Old-Fashioned Games for Children

Updated February 21, 2017

Modern children's games often include complicated equipment or high-tech gaming systems, but old-fashioned children's games provide opportunities for entertainment and learning with limited or simple accessories. Incorporate old-fashioned children's games into a classroom for a playful history lesson. Old-fashioned games for children are also suitable for birthday parties and rainy days.

Card Games

The traditional deck of cards featuring four suits and 52 played cards was popularised during the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe, and classic games use rules that are simple enough for children to follow. A complete deck of cards is all children need to play traditional card games like Old Maid, a Victorian-era card game in which players make pairs of cards until all cards are out of play except for one unmatched card, referred to as the Old Maid.

Go Fish is also a traditional card game, suitable for teaching children numbers and matching. Players draw cards from other players, and use the undealt cards from the deck, to create pairs until they've matched all the cards in their hands.

Outdoor Games

Outdoor games are best suited for large groups of children, so consider them if you are hosting a children's birthday party. If game accessories are scarce by space is ample, host a round of "Kick the Can" in which one child is designated as "It" and the rest of the players hide while "It" closes her eyes. After opening her eyes, "It" places a can on the ground near where she is standing, and she runs to tag other players and take them to a designated "holding area." If a player manages to kick the can without getting caught, the captured players are released and must be recaptured. Other classic games, such as hopscotch or "Simon Says," require less space but are just as active and engaging for children.

Party Games

Victorian-era parlour games are easily adapted to younger players. Put a classic spin on "I-Spy" with the more traditional "Lookabout," in which the host of the party or a guest hides a small toy or object in the room while guests are elsewhere. When the guest returns, the first person to identify which object is missing gets to hide the next object. A variation is to hide a small toy which the child then gets to keep as a party favour.

Another object-based game is "Forfeit," in each player brings a small token to the party and places it in the centre of the room. The guest of honour then comes into the room and describes the item as if he was an auction host. The owner of the item must do something funny or clever to win the item back.

Classic Toys

Old-fashioned toys often include simple objects designed specifically for children's games. String games such as Cat's Cradle challenge children to create abstract string shapes without dropping the string or creating knots. Jacks is a game that test children's speed and coordination as they attempt to scoop up small metal pieces in the time allotted by bouncing a rubber ball. Other simple games, including those using marbles or yo-yos, are suitable for days when the weather keeps kids inside or when children don't have playmates.

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About the Author

Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.