Make it a throwback summer

Try one (or all!) of these good old-fashioned games

Back in the old days of summer, when kids didn’t have smartphones, computers or cable TV, they were often found outdoors playing simple old-time summer fun games to beat the boredom. Don’t want your kids’ summer to be filled with screen-time pursuits? Stash away those electronic devices, gather the neighborhood friends and head outside for some of these old-school games and activities! They’re sure to get everyone up and moving – and having a good ol’ time!


Hopscotch is a wonderful game because it can be played with several people or alone. Using chalk (or paint, if you’re at home and want a permanent fixture on your driveway!), draw a hopscotch design on asphalt or concrete. When it’s your turn, toss a small stone or similar object (ie, bean bag or small toy) into square 1. If it lands without touching a line or bouncing out, hop on one foot into the first empty square (i.e. skipping square 1) and every subsequent square, jumping with both feet at the pairs (4-5 and 7-8). Then, turn around at the top and hop back, balancing on one foot to pick up your rock. If you make it through without stepping on a line, you get to throw the rock on the next number when it’s your turn again. The first kid to get through all 10 squares wins.

Flying a kite

Watching a kite float through the sky and dance in the wind is a fun and peaceful family pastime, and children as young as 4 or 5 can hold their own spools and learn how to fly kite. When there’s a gentle breeze outdoors, it’s time to fly: Find an area clear of obstructions and stand with your back to the wind. Unwind about 60 feet of string and have a helper hold the kite and walk backward until it’s almost taut. When you feel a gentle tug of the wind, signal the helper to let go and watch the kite fly. Kiting teaches children to pay attention to weather and wind, and it’s great time of bonding.

Stone skipping

What kid doesn’t want to be a stone-skipping rock star? The simple, yet fun sport of bouncing a stone across a body of water involves a delicate blend of skill, angle and surface tension. First, seek out the perfect rock – flat and round, about the size of your palm, preferably with a feature for gripping. Make sure the stone has some weight; a heavier stone will punch through a ripple. The stone should fit snug in your hand between your thumb and your index finger. It’s best if the curve of the stone matches the curve of your hand. Your middle finger should support the stone from underneath to assure that it stays flat while you throw it. Now, set your stance, bend back your wrist, flick it forward quickly like you’re cracking a whip sideways and follow through. The world record of 88 skips may not be attainable, but you’ll have fun trying!

Jumping rope

Jumping rope is not only an old-time summer fun game, but it also burns more than 100 calories jumping rope in just 10 minutes, while strengthening your body and improving coordination and balance. Fun skipping games are something the whole family can do together, so grab that rope and let the kids and adults jump right in! Look for jump ropes that have a plastic beaded segmentation design – that way the skipping rope won’t get tangled. For beginners, the tops of the handles should reach close to the shoulder. Once you’ve got the basic rhythm, try some creative ideas, such as crossing your feet, jumping on one foot, or crossing the rope. Or try running in and out, adding songs and choreograph routines. If you’re really good, you can move on to Double Dutch with two ropes that are swung alternately, similar to how an egg beater works. It takes more skill to master Double Dutch jump roping: For motivation, check out the Double Dutch championships on youtube!


Kids today have so many games and toys to choose from, but they’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much fun they can have with an old-school hula hoop. Hula-hooping is also a great way to burn calories, strengthen muscles and improve coordination at any age. First, try to find a high-quality hoop – one that isn’t so lightweight that it kinks. The bigger and heavier, the easier to spin. Start with it at your waist and move your hips side to side or back and forth. Once you've got the hang of it, encourage each other to try something fancier: Try turning around inside the hoop, or get a pair of hoops and see if you can whirl one on each arm at the same time. A great way to make fitness fun for the whole family!

Red Rover

A recess staple, Red Rover is one of the easiest games to play and even young kids can get in on the action. Two groups of kids interlace their arms in two rows facing each other about 30 feet apart. One group calls, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (child’s name) on over.” The child who has been called runs toward the opposite line and tries to break through. If he/she is able to break it, he/she takes a kid from the broken line back to his/her original line. If the child doesn’t break through, he/she joins the opposing line. It may sound pointless but it’s really fun to try and see if you can keep the other kids from breaking through.

Monkey In The Middle

This is a fun throwing and catching game for a small group. Two or more people stand outside the circle and throw the ball (or bean bag, Frisbee, etc.) back and forth, keeping it away from the person in the middle (the “monkey”). When the monkey grabs the ball, the last player to have touched it is now the monkey. (Or decide on your own more specific rules depending on the size and ages of the players.) Take turns on who is in the middle and it can be a game that keeps a group of kids busy for a long time!


With just a basketball and a hoop, this classic and often hilarious game is great for players of all skill levels. You need a basketball net and at least two players for this game, but you can have more. One person tries to make a basket from a specific spot in a specific way. If the shot is successful, players must duplicate it until someone misses or all players have done it. If a player misses, then he earns the letter H and it moves to the next person. Players may miss up to five times (H-O-R-S-E) before they are out.

Hand clapping games

At one time, hand clapping games ruled the playground. From Miss Mary Mack to Down Down Baby and even Patty Cake, these throwbacks to your childhood are great for building eye-hand coordination, memory and cognitive skills. But the best part? They provide a great form of socialization. No matter how old the players are, they all laugh and have fun. Part of an oral tradition of passing down stories and tales, hand clapping is found throughout the world and played by at least two people. The games blend singing with rhythmic slaps, snaps and sound effects in an organized and repetitive manner. Take some time to refresh yourself with a few YouTube videos ( and then teach your kids the more complicated ones. Here’s an extra fun one: For song lyrics and instructions, check out: