Sister and brother playing hopscotch

7 old-school games to keep the family entertained

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In a tech-dominated world, playing old-school games with your family can be a great way to shake off the cobwebs and chalk up some quality family time. Here are some classic all-ages games worth resurrecting.

7 family friendly-games – no equipment needed

Other than a piece of chalk and some elastic, these games don’t require any special equipment or supplies – and they’ll hopefully bring back happy memories of your own childhood! 

1. Elastics

Great for burning energy, elastics is an old playground favourite easily transported to the backyard – or the living room. 

Find some elastics in your sewing box, knot a two-metre length and loop it around two pairs or ankles (or dining chair legs). 

Accompanied by a rhyme, each player jumps on the stretched elastics, before moving onto to a more complicated or higher routine.

You can find some great 'how-to play elastics' videos on YouTube and elastic jingles on Kidspot

2. Hopscotch

Grab some chalk, find some pavement, and draw up the classic hopscotch grid with numbered squares to play this active game. 

Centuries old and with a lot of variations, hopscotch involves tossing a small marker – normally a coin – into the first square along a numbered court. 

Kids hop down the grid on one foot, skipping over the grid with the coin, then turn, pick up their marker, and hop back. 

The next player tosses into the second square and continues on. 

If the player loses their balance, steps on a line or misses a square, their turn ends. 

The first person to complete one course for each numbered square wins the game.

3. Charades

Not just the staple of dinner parties and workplace team-building activities, charades is a fantastic family game. 

First, mime whether you’re reading a book, watching a movie or singing a song. 

Hold up your fingers to indicate how many words there are, again hold up your fingers to indicate which word you’ll act out (e.g. “second word”) and tug your ear if you want to mime a word that sounds like the word you have to act out. 

To add a little pressure for older kids, you can also set a time limit and keep score.  

4. Simon says

Fun for the little ones, Simon Says is a great game to sharpen your kids’ listening skills while also being active. 

The designated “Simon” tells each person what to do, and they model his or her actions – such as, “Simon Says touch your nose”. 

However, if Simon doesn’t say “Simon Says” before the instruction and the kids perform the action, they’re caught out.

Check out these 30 funny Simon says ideas for a little inspiration.

5. Noughts-and-crosses

Perfect for a rainy day, noughts-and-crosses is the perfect game to teach your children strategy. 

Designed for two players, simply draw a 3x3 grid and competitors write either an “O” or “X” in the boxes to get three in a row. 

Give it an outdoor twist by using sticks, leaves and stones to play. 

6. What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

This game teaches stealth and numeracy – and it’s also great exercise. 

The designated “Mr Wolf”, who can be either a grown-up or child, stands with their back turned to the group, who call out, “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” 

Mr Wolf then tells them the time – for example, 2pm. 

The group must then take two steps toward Mr Wolf. But once the line of players is close to Mr Wolf, he can respond to the chant with, “It’s dinner time!”, and chase the group back to the starting line. 

If he catches a player, they then become Mr Wolf for the next round.  

7. Hide-and-seek

The staple game of any childhood, hide-and-seek remains a firm favourite with kids of all ages and is perfect for one-on-one play or siblings. 

One person counts to 10 (making it great for numeracy) while the others hide throughout the house. 

If you have very young children, try stashing one of their toys, then help them find it. 

Looking for more great ways to keep the kids entertained? Download these fun kids activity sheets the kids can do at home.

Kids activity sheets