Posted by: ladybughugs | June 3, 2008

Games Kids Play

What were your favorite games growing up? I don’t mean Monopoly, Backgammon, Chess, the standards. I’m talking about the made-up stuff. The games you played with siblings or friends that didn’t need batteries or AC power. Remember? Before GameBoy, Nintendo, Atari (am I dating myself with this one?). You know, the low-tech stuff. The stuff of imaginations.

There are a couple of things I remember playing with my brother and sisters.

First, there were Matchbox cars. And this begs the question: are Matchbox and Hot Wheels like Coke and Pepsi? You were/are a fan of one or the other or did you play with both interchangeably? We were a Matchbox house. Before Mom would buy a Matchbox car the salesperson had to take it out of the package so she could give it a test-drive. Because, she knew, when she got it home it would be tested by my brother and if the wheels didn’t work correctly? it would go directly to the reject pile and be wasted money. He played with those cars for hours. We played with him, but he would start before us and continue after we lost interest. He made roads and buildings out of whatever he could find, he had a different voice for each car, and a story in his head to tell with them. HOURS were spent on the floor with nothing but Matchbox cars and our imaginations. I can’t help but think he may have been happier when we just left him alone with his cars to act out the stories he was imagining. He never complained, though. This was before the rugs with buildings and roads were made. Mom should have come up with that concept.

Next, we played pennies. Pennies was taught to us by my mother’s best friend, Mrs. D. (and yes, that is what we call her). It’s mostly a diversion for little kids (i.e., toddlers) who are bored and starting to get antsy, but need a distraction to keep from bouncing off the walls. It is an interesting game for parents because as the toddler gets older you see them catching on to how it is played, first, and then the strategy as their brain develops strategic ability. All you need to play is a penny or other small object. Yes, it’s a choking hazard, but you’re not leaving them alone with it and there is never any reason for it to go into the mouth. To play: behind your back, put the penny in one hand. Bring both fists in front of you and the child has to guess which hand it’s in. Open the hand s/he chose. If it’s there cheer, if it’s not open the other hand so s/he can see it. There is usually an element of surprise or cheering accompanied by the appropriate facial expressions. Give the penny to the child so s/he can do it. Usually, when starting out the child will leave the penny in the same hand and so expects the penny to be in the same hand when you bring your fists forward. Toddlers love this game. As they get older they learn to make the hand without the penny appear larger so you think the penny is in that hand.

Lastly, when we got older we had fun playing ‘ghost in the graveyard’. It’s kind of like hide-and-seek in the dark. I always remember other kids, like cousins, playing with us so I’m thinking the parents were looking to get us out from under foot to burn off energy after dinner. One person, the ghost, would go around the house and hide somewhere in a shadow. Then the rest of the group would go around the house looking for the ghost. Usually the ghost wouldn’t be found and would then jump out and scare the seekers and chase them back to the starting point. Tagging someone would make them the ghost in the next round. Thinking about it now, I’m not sure I’d let my kids play, it sounds dangerous. I don’t remember any of us getting hurt, though.

Mrs. D. has been teaching Lil’bug pennies. She also plays with her baby dolls (Lil’bug, not Mrs. D.). Besides that I can’t think of a single thing that my kids play with that isn’t high-tech in some way. Scout loves his Nintendo DS. It is our #1 go-to toy when privileges get revoked. We used to have a huge pile of jumbo Lego-type blocks in Scout’s room which H has moved to solitary in the basement. Never to be seen again. We got them ages ago, one-by-one, when Scout was a baby. They came with Chubbs baby wipes. It’s scary when I look at them and think, ‘I went through how many boxes of wipes’?! He has had loads of fun through the years building and knocking down towers. I’m sorry they’ve been moved to the basement. I think Lil’bug and Scout would enjoy playing with them together.

What did you play when you were a kid?



  1. don’t forget all the remote control items I bought with my hard earned money for Scout’s birthdays year after year that are now in solitary in the attic only collecting dust…i’d like them if you don’t

  2. I used to play cops and robbers with the neighborhood kids. They used to play Manhunt too which was when you hid in the dark at night and everyone had to find you (Ok, it’s Hide and Seek just at night with a different name).. I guess the dumbest one we did was TV Tag. It was freeze tag but to unfreeze yourself you had to shout out the name of a TV show.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: