4 Classic Playground Games to Play with Your Kid

Stir up memories — and make new ones — with these old school activities.

1. Marbles

What you need: two or more players, chalk (or a stick), marbles

How to play: Draw a circle, about 1 m across, on asphalt with chalk (if you’re playing on sand, use a stick). Scatter a few marbles from each player into the ring. Have each player select a “shooter” marble that looks different from the others (and is preferably larger). Taking turns, shoot your marble from just outside the circle. Kneel on the ground cradling the shooter in the crook of your index finger, and flick the marble with your thumb. The goal is to bump the other marbles out of the circle. If you’re successful, go again and collect the marbles you’ve knocked out. Remove your shooter at the end of your turn. When the ring is empty, count your marbles; the player with the most marbles is the winner.

Fair-play tip: Decide at the outset if you are playing for keeps or if you will return the marbles to the original owners.

2. Four-square

What you need: four players, chalk, bouncy ball

How to play: Draw a large square (about 2 x 2 m) on asphalt. Divide it into four equal squares numbered one to four. One player stands in each square. The player in square four starts by bouncing the ball once in her own square, then sends it to another player in one bounce. If the ball lands outside of the intended square or doesn’t bounce before it reaches the intended player, the sender goes to square one and all the other players go up a square. If the intended player doesn’t catch the ball, she goes back to square one. If she does catch it, she then bounces it to another player, and  so on. Each round always starts at square four. The player who spends the most time in square four wins.

Fair-play tip: Who should start in square four? Try going alphabetically by first name.

3. Beanbag toss

What you need: one or more players, chalk, beanbags (Don’t have a beanbag? Fill an old sock with rice or dried beans and knot the top.)

How to play: Draw a target (1 m) with three concentric circles. Number them one to three, the smaller the circle the greater the number. Mark a spot about three metres from the target to throw the beanbags from. Take turns throwing the beanbags; you get the points indicated in the circle the bag lands in. The player with the greatest tally at the end wins.

Fair-play tip: Decide how many turns each player gets before the points are tallied.

4. Hopscotch

What you need: one or more players, chalk, hopscotch marker (beanbag, keychain, rock)

How to play: Draw a hopscotch board of squares numbered one to 10. Taking turns, throw your marker into square one. If it lands without touching the lines (otherwise you lose your turn), hop on one foot in each square – unless the squares are side by side, where you  can put both feet down – to the end of the board, skipping over the square containing your marker. Then turn around and hop back, picking up your marker on the way. On your next turn, throw your marker into square two, and so on. You lose your turn if you step on a line or miss a square. The winner is the first to get her marker to the square 10.

Fair-play tip: Got young hopscotchers? Start with a board that only goes up to five.

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