top of page


In past posts, I talked about other things we did on lazy summer afternoons to keep ourselves entertained and out of our mothers’ hair. Now let’s talk games.

With sidewalks galore, Hopscotch was always popular. We drew the squares with chalk, then numbered them and started play. Each person had to throw the marker (usually a random rock,) hop to it, alternating feet, and without stepping in the square with the marker, pick it up and move on. Sound easy? Believe me, it wasn’t. The bending on one foot always did me in.

Another favorite was Mother May I. One kid was the “mother,” while the rest lined up, side-by-side. Mother would tell each player how many and what kind of steps to get to the finish line:  baby steps, regular steps, giant steps, or my personal favorite, scissor steps. Then came the catch; we had to say, “Mother may I?” first. If we forgot to ask permission, we had to go back the same number of steps.

We liked Red Light, Green Light, too, called Freeze Tag in some circles. In that case, the leader called “Green light!” and everyone ran until the leader called “Red Light!” This one eventually lost favor, since we were all in the same boat. 

The rowdies among us loved Red Rover. We’d divide into two teams, with one team clasping hands to make a strong chain. The hand-holding team would call, “Red rover, red rover, send Bonnie right over!”  Then Bonnie, the football coach’s daughter, would run hard and throw herself full-tilt into the group, trying to break their chain—a total running back maneuver.    

kids jumping rope

I saved my favorite for last:  Jump Rope.  Yes, it could be played alone, but the kind we liked best had two turners, one at each end of a long rope. We used chants to keep the rhythm, like “Susie and Johnny, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. How many kisses did they get?” Then the player jumped in and counting began. Sometimes, we’d do Double Dutch, with 2 kids jumping at once. Other times the rope-turners would have a rope in each hand, to speed up the tempo. These versions were especially popular at school recess, with plenty of ropes and kids to use them.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? Yep, we played outside with other kids, instead of alone, in a darkened room, gawking at a computer screen. Our Old School eyes thank us and so do our muscles, even if we haven’t played for a while.    


bottom of page