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After School Fun for Kids: Classic Games for Young Children

Classic games for young children.

classic games for young children

My kids have spent most of their free time this past week playing classic childhood games – tag, hide and go seek, digging in the sandbox, pretending they are at the beach by running around a local beach volleyball pit we like to visit when no adults are playing, and making all sorts of interesting concoctions out of dirt and water in our patio. The weather was absurdly nice, and we spent most of our free time outside – mostly away from home, since the complex where we live doesn’t have a lot of space where children are allowed to run and play. Eight-year-old Emma has a friend at school who is very good at origami, and she has been teaching Emma and several other kids how to make swans, complicated bowls, and more – and Emma spends a lot of time planning very complex origami projects.

See also: Classic Childhood Games Every Generation Loves

Classic Games for Young Children

Here are a few classic childhood games my kids play over and over:

  • Tag. They often create handicaps to make this game fair for the wide age range – maybe Anna is it and they all have to crawl, instead of run, for example.
  • Hide and go seek. I remember hiding in the same spot over and over again as a kid, and my kids do this also. Just as I remember from my own childhood, they still look carefully before going to the favorite spot. My siblings and I took this to the extreme – one of our favorite hiding spots was behind a French door with see-through glass panels. The person who was “it” ALWAYS opened the door to look behind, and never looked through the panels.
  • Mud concoctions. My kids mostly play at “science” experiments that involve grass and flowers and mud, but they do occasionally cook mud “food” as well.
  • Role play. This week leprechauns ranked high on the pretend play list, since St. Patrick’s Day was Monday. Here my four-year-old is pretending to be a sleeping leprechaun, because apparently you can catch leprechauns when they are asleep.

pretending to sleep because sleeping leprechauns dont get caught
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

16 thoughts on “After School Fun for Kids: Classic Games for Young Children”

  1. I made so many mud pies when I was little! My kids love hide and go seek. They also like pulling out the classic board games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders and taking them outside to play with everyone on the picnic table.

  2. jeannine: waddleeahchaa

    I love that my kids are so resourceful and imaginative. They do a lot of pretend type games both inside and outside of the house.

    Last week Miss Enigma said, “I feel like my home is outside.” She spends most of her free time playing outside with our dogs and digging in the sandbox. She is content all afternoon outside.

  3. Elisa | blissfulE

    Love that picture of Johnny hiding his eyes, and your sleeping leprechaun is soooooo cute! :)

    Unfortunately the sand volleyball courts near us, while often deserted, are strictly off-limits for people who aren’t members. I can only imagine how much fun your kids have in such a huge sandy area!! I can’t complain, though, because we have a lot of wonderful playgrounds nearby.

    My kids play lots of pretend games; I would say that’s 90% of their play. Yesterday they asked to take an abridged version of Around the World in 80 Days outside so they could act it out – everytime I looked they were huddled around Nikki who was reading aloud, so I’m not sure they acted anything out that time! They also do some basic ball games with foam bat and ball, climb all over the swing set, and also organise racing and jumping contests.

    1. I’m impressed that Nikki is reading “Around the World in 80 Days” – and that the other kids are listening in! That is a shame about the beach volleyball courts, although I’m glad you have plenty of nice playgrounds! We have a sandbox in the complex where we live, but my kids prefer to drive to the volleyball courts because they are so big and because the sand is coarser and doesn’t stick to them! I’m happy to take them because they get so much exercise running around – and we usually find somewhere to play hide and seek if the volleyball courts are taken.

  4. Love these games! We’ve been having gorgeous weather too :-D.

    I can’t wait for J to have a playmate so they can enjoy playing outside together (it’s just not the same playing with mom and dad).

  5. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    I am grateful that daughter goes to Y program where they teach kids a lot of group games. She loves tag and “duck duck goose”.

    1. Emma used to play “duck duck goose” in Massachusetts, but they haven’t played it here so far. Smarty’s Y program always sounds excellent!

  6. My kids always make “soup,” which near as I can tell is an excuse to get very messy as they bring random bits of grass, twigs, and mud and drop it into a bucket.

    1. My kids went through a phase of making concoctions and then letting them sit for a few days to see how bad they would smell. I wasn’t a big fan of that experiment!

  7. This is what I’m looking forward to once the two little ones are old enough to play with my eldest. I grew up playing these types of games with my siblings. We even had a term that translated to “the cat that joins” for the youngest players (which usually meant me) where we were allowed to play with the big kids but we weren’t technically playing and couldn’t be “it” for instance. Absolutely some of my best memories.

    I hope that once the babies are old enough, all three of my kids can play their own classic games, made-up games, anything they can concoct.

    A friend and her same-aged kid as my four-year-old recently came over, and I mistakenly assumed that I would need to provide them with an activity—stickers in my case—and the two boys would sit quietly doing their crafts at the table. Wrong! All I needed to do was let them be. They had so much fun picking up any toy and finding some way to play with it. They ran through the rooms, played on their own, came back to us moms in the living room… so rambunctious, so fun and carefree.

    1. Your son will have so much fun with his younger siblings in a few months! And I am always amazed at how resourceful children are at entertaining themselves. I find that they nearly always prefer their own made-up games over those I work to structure for them.

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