When most of us were kids, the school holidays were spent either outside with your friends, falling off bikes, out of trees and exploring – or staring out of the window at the rain, waiting for a bit of blue sky so that our parents would let us go out and call for our friends again.
These days, newspaper reports are full of horror stories about how children spend hours glued to their screens and a report from last year found that the average British child spent less time outdoors than an adult prisoner!
74 per cent of children spent less than an hour every day playing outside while almost a third of children played outdoors for less than 30 minutes. One in five kids didn’t play outside at ALL.
We think it’s time that we redressed the balance and tempted the kids outside with some of the retro games that we used to play when we were little. Here are a few ideas to jog your memory – introduce the family to the joys of good old British Bulldog or What’s the Time Mister Wolf and you might be able to cut their screen time and get them active in one fell swoop.
We all remember this gem; and it gets more fun the more people are taking part. One or more children are chosen to be the ‘bulldogs’ and they stand in the centre of the garden or play area while everyone else stays ‘home’ at one end.
The players have to run from one end of the designated area to the other, then back again, without being caught by any of the bulldogs, and if they are caught, they turn into bulldogs too. The winner is the last person left who isn’t turned into a bulldog!
We all played this one and it’s dead easy to play – choose one player to be ‘it’ and they have to chase everyone else until they catch someone – who then becomes ‘it’ and chases everyone until the ‘it’ is transferred. This game can be never ending so it’s great for using up excess energy following a few rainy days.
Stuck in the Mud
You need at least three players for this one. One person (or two if there are a lot of you) are catchers. Catchers case after the others until they touch them, and when they do, the person they catch becomes ‘stuck in the mud. The person who is stuck has to stand still with legs and arms spread wide apart until someone else releases them. To release them, another person has to crawl underneath them! The game can either carry on until you’re all stuck – or everyone has just had enough…
One child takes the part of a hungry shark – and everyone else has to pretend that they are shipwrecked, by holding on garden furniture, walls or trees. These are decided in advance but there are less of them than there are children playing, so everyone has to run away from the shark to find their piece of wreckage – and one child is always left in the water.
Only one player can hold on to on each piece of wreckage at a time and if you are caught ‘in the water’, you turn into the shark and have to chase the others.
What’s the time Mr Wolf?
You must try not to get ‘eaten’ by Mr Wolf. The kids choose their Wolf and then the others line up at the end of the play area or garden. Mr Wolf turns away from the other children who then chant out loud, “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” Mr Wolf answers either with a time, like six o’ clock, and the kids have to take six steps towards him/her or ‘dinnertime’ whereupon he turns around and runs after them making wolf noises!
His aim is to catch as many kids and ‘eat’ them as possible before they get to their designated ‘home’ area and start again. Those who get eaten are out and the winner is the last child standing.
Can you remember any more silly (but fun) playground games?