Classic Kid's Games - Leave your Wallet in Your Pocket

Robyn Adams and Elise Britton, principals in StrapsawayGames rock! For child and family learning, growth and development, playing these classic games just might be the pinnacle of awesomeness. 

During the COVID shutdown, some might bemoan the loss of time in formal education, but families who get out the games know that playing together can accomplish even more valuable child development. Not to take anything away from the importance of schoolwork, but most of us have more catching up to do with family.

These classic kid's games don’t require much special hardware, so they are inexpensive. Traditional games do less for you, so they demand more of you. That’s where the development comes in. They require communication and interaction. Typically, they demand memory and strategy. You play with real people (members of your family) and so relationships are developed.

We grow together. Nothing could be more important.

And there are all the other benefits! There is a game for every mental skill and intellectual interest – from memory to strategy, from dogged persistence to mental agility. Every subject is covered – math, language, history, geography – anything at all.

And, maybe the best part, is that the abundance of learning and development takes place behind the scenes while you are busy having so much fun together!

Here are the Strapsaway top classic games for family fun! Some will be familiar, others new to you. (Arranged easiest to hardest.)

 

Fancy red tulip

I Spy

Learning: Colours, observation

Supplies: None

1.The first player says, “I spy with my little eye something that is [colour].”

2.The second player tries to guess the object.

 

Child hiding in the dark

Hide and Go Seek in the Dark

Learning: Creativity, patience, counting

Supplies: Flashlight

  1. Plain-old hide and seek is done with the lights on.
  2. This is done with the lights off!
  3. One person is ‘it’ and counts to 30 (parent can help).
  4. Everyone else hides.
  5. Person who is ‘it’ runs to find everyone who is hiding.
  6. We use a flashlight - that's fun in itself!
  7. When you find someone they join the search.

 

Three tic tac toe images

 

Tic Tac Toe

 

Learning: Strategy

Supplies: Paper and pencil

  1. Draw a large hashtag.
  2. The first person puts an ‘X’ in one of the boxes.
  3. The second person puts an ‘O’ in one of the boxes.
  4. Repeat until one person wins by getting a horizontal, diagonal or vertical line of three Xs or three Os.

(It is possible to draw the game so that nobody wins).

 

Mountain

Image for Mountain children's game

Learning: Counting, number recognition, adding

Supplies: One or two dice

  1. Draw the simple outline of a mountain on a piece of paper.
  2. Draw small squares going up one side and down the other side of the mountain.
  3. Put a number, 1 to 6, in each square.
  4. Roll a die to get the first number. Then the second number, and so on until you get all the way up and down the mountain.
  5. For added difficulty and more practice with arithmetic, use two dice so you have to add to get the number.

 

Two dice showing four and three

Beat That!

Learning: Counting, adding and multiplying

Supplies: One, two or three dice

  1. A simple game with one, two or (for experts!) three dice.
  2. Roll, total the dots and see who wins!
  3. You can also add up the dots from several rounds for a winning total.
  4. Then, once you are really good at adding, you can start multiplying the dots on the dice for the high score!

 

SOS (This is Tic Tac Toe for experts!)

SOS game chart

Learning: Strategy

Supplies: Paper and pencil.

Draw a grid that is 12x12.

  1. The first person puts an S or an O into one of the squares.
  2. The second person then puts an S or an O into one of the squares.
  3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  4. Whenever a person completes an SOS sequence, (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) they draw a line through the sequence and they get a point.
  5. Play continues until all the squares are full. Player with the most points wins.

 


Spoons game layout with 4 of a kind

Spoons

Learning: Concentration, strategy, quick-thinking and quick-reaction.

Supplies: Deck of cards, some teaspoons

Spoons requires a deck of cards with four suits. The object is to get a hand of four-of-a-kind, and grab one of the spoons from the middle of the table.

  1. The players sit around a table.
  2. Remove a four-of-a-kind set from the deck for each player (e.g. for six players, remove four each of the numbers 1 to 6 from the deck, or 24 cards).
  3. Set the other cards aside.
  4. Get five teaspoons and put them in the centre of the table in a circular pattern, spoon in and handle out.
  5. Shuffle the cards and deal four cards to each player (i.e. all of the cards are dealt).
  6. Now, the player to the right of the dealer attempts to get 4 of a kind by instructing everyone to pass a certain number of cards to the player on their right. Everyone passes at the same time. (For example, the player to the right might say, “Pass 2,” and each player must pass two cards to the player on their right.
  7. The first player to see four-of-a-kind in their hand grabs a spoon from the centre of the table.
  8. As soon as the others see this happen, they grab a spoon, too.
  9. One person will be left without a spoon – they lose and get an ‘S’ – and so on until they get SPOON spelled – then they are out.
  10. The first person to touch a spoon without anyone having four-of-a-kind, gets a letter against them. Be careful, because sometimes a player will fake grabbing a spoon just to trick you!
  11. Once a player is out, a set of four cards is removed from the deck.
  12. The person who is out tries to get other players to talk to them. If you make a mistake and talk to a person who is out, you get a letter toward your SPOON.
  13. The last person without the full word SPOON spelled, wins! 

 

Battleships

Battleships game charts

Learning: Graphic representation, psychology, names of ships

Supplies: Paper and pencils

One of my childhood favorites! I could imagine myself in a real naval battle.

  1. Draw a square graph, 8x8, and name the rows with the letters ‘A’ through ‘H,’ and the columns ‘1’ through ‘8.’
  2. This is called the ‘primary’ graph. Here you draw your boats and track your opponent's shots.
  3. You’ll need a second graph just like this to keep track of your ‘shots’ on your opponent. It’s called the ‘tracking’ graph.
  1. On the ‘primary’ graph, outline squares to represent warships. 1 square = PT boat; 2 squares = Submarine; 3 squares = Destroyer; 4 squares = Battleship; 5 squares = Aircraft Carrier. They can be oriented horizontally or vertically on the graph. Position them strategically so that your opponent has a hard time finding them.
  2. Flip a coin to see who goes first.
  3. The player who goes first takes a guess at where a ship might be by designating the coordinates of a particular square (for example, C4). This is called a ‘shot’. This first player marks the guess on the C4 square of his tracking graph to keep a record of his shots.
  4. The second player declares ‘hit’ if a ship is hit, or ‘miss’ if the shot falls into the water.
  5. Remember, each shot is marked on the shooting player’s tracking graph, and on the defending player’s primary graph.
  6. The turn passes to the second player, and so on. A ship is ‘sunk’ when all the squares for that ship are crossed out.
  7. When all the ships of a player are sunk, the game is over.

 


Elephant, plant, gold bars sketch for twenty questions game

Twenty Questions

 Learning: Logic and science.

Supplies: none

  1. The person who is ‘it’ thinks of something (say an elephant).
  2. They tell everyone else the category it belongs to, either Animal, Mineral or Plant. (Elephant is Animal). That’s the only clue you get.
  3. Everyone else takes a turn asking a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to narrow into the correct answer.

Example:

Is it bigger than a bread-box? Yes.

Is it a fish? No.

Is it a reptile? No.

Is it a mammal. Yes.

Does it live in Australia? No.

Does it live in Africa? Yes.

Is it a giraffe? No.

Is it an elephant? YES!

The limit is 20 questions. Run out of questions, and who ever is ‘it,’ wins.

 

Checkers board with checkers

Checkers and Chess

Learning: Strategy and Memory

Supplies: board, set of checkers, set of chess pieces

These classic games can be learned by children as young as 4 years old (checkers) and 6 years old (chess). Developed over millennia, they are played the world over. Especially in chess, strategic thinking can be developed to a world-class level. The rules are beyond the scope of this posting but are available in many other places, but here are some ‘words to the wise.’

Start with checkers, it’s easier. Teach a very basic set of rules to start, just moving and taking single pieces. The add 'double jumps.' Then add ‘kings.’ Then, after a while, the other rules.

Same idea with chess. Start with the basic moves and leave out the other rules, adding them slowly over time as the child develops proficiency.

Make sure that every child gets their share of wins. Play with them yourself, and make mistakes, and let them win as often as they need to so they maintain interest (and self-esteem!).

Teach the importance of putting the pieces away after play is finished.

 

Stick men charades sketch

Charades

Learning: Acting, problem solving and non-verbal communication

Supplies: Strips of paper, pencils, timer

  1. Divide into two teams.
  2. Each team makes up a list of words or phrases on individual slips of paper for the other team to act out. Usually they are in a category, like: children’s stories, songs, TV shows, movies, books, and so on. (Examples: The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Bean Stock, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears]
  3. One team goes first. The ‘drawer’ (who is not allowed to speak on pain of losing their turn) takes one of the slips of paper from the opposite team, and silently reads the word or phrase.
  4. Start the timer! The actor has 2 minutes to act out the word or phrase for his or her teammates to guess.
  5. Usually, the actor holds up the number of fingers corresponding to the number of words in the phrase.
  6. Then, they hold up the number of fingers for which word they are acting out. This is done several times so that the team can figure out each word in the phrase (unless they recognize the phrase from one or two words and can say the whole thing)!

 

T-rex sketch for pictionary

Pictionary

Learning: Drawing, problem solving and creativity

Supplies: Slips of paper, pencils, timer

Similar to charades, but with drawing instead of acting.

  1. Each team makes up a list of words or phrases on individual slips of paper for the other team to draw.
  2. Usually they are in a category, like: fruits, animals, machines, or things that fly. (Examples: strawberries, bananas, dogs, reindeer, dump truck, goose]
  3. One team goes first. The ‘actor’ (who is not allowed to speak on pain of losing their turn) takes one of the slips of paper from the opposite team, and silently reads the word or phrase.
  4. Start the timer! The actor has 2 minutes to draw the word or phrase for his or her team mates to guess.
  5. Usually, the drawer draws a blank for each word on the paper, and points to the blank they are drawing.
  6. The team that successfully guesses the words or phrases in the least time, wins!

 

Password

Learning: Vocabulary and word association

Supplies: Slips of paper, pencils, timer

  1. Divide into teams of 2 to each team.
  2. Teams write 5 words on individual slips of paper.
  3. Flip a coin to decide who goes first.
  4. The member of the team that goes first is given a slip of paper with a word on it by the other team.
  5. The timer is started (time limit is usually 2 minutes, but can be varied).
  6. The team member with the word gives a one-word clue to their partner.
  7. Their partner tries to guess the word.
  8. Repeat Steps 6 and 7 until the word is guessed or time runs out.
  9. Play passes to another team.
  10. If you wish, you can keep track of the time it takes to guess your words. Team with the shortest total time wins!

For example, if the word to be guessed is ‘dog,’ then the clues given might be ‘hot,’ ‘poodle,’ ‘bull.’

Only single-word clues are allowed.

It’s a timed game, rapid and intense!

 

What are your family's favorite classic kid's games? Please tell us by posting in the comments section below! 

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