17 Bright Ideas for Vintage Games & Sports

Are your kids stuck to their iPads 24/7 even while the sun is shining? They may be sick of hearing that you didn’t have screens in “your day”, but why not show them what people did in the days before digital. Thanks to Chloe Quin from Health.com.au, here are 17 retro sport and games ideas to get children outside and active. Do you have any other fond vintage outdoor games from your own childhood? Let us know!

1. Skipping Rope

You can jump rope solo or with friends. Done vigorously it’s great cardiovascular exercise, similar to jogging or bike riding, burning up to 700 calories per hour.

2. British Bulldog

A variant of tag – one player in the centre of the field is the “bulldog” and the others have to evade them as they run from one side to the other. Once they’re caught they become bulldogs too, until only one player is left.

3. Hopscotch 

Got chalk? The perfect vintage outdoor games. A worldwide favourite possibly as far back as Roman times, you’ll need strong legs and good balance.

4. Hula Hoop

Hooping has resurged in popularity in recent years, with circus performers taking it to an art with fiery hoops. It’s a popular fitness activity for adults too, and one way to a flat stomach and a wasp waist.

5. May Pole

A European folk game using long ribbons around a wooden pole. Usually practised on May Day (the seasonal equivalent to 1st November here) it sees children dancing around one another as they weave their ribbons around the pole.

6. Marngrook

Believe to have inspired Aussie Rules, this traditional Aboriginal game used a ball made of possum skin with the aim being to jump and kick it as high as possible.

7. Stilts

These are fun to make too, using two old paint cans and string, and good for practising balance and coordination. Circus skills workshops often teach them.

8. Poohsticks

You’ll need a river and a bridge for this (or two bridges) – drop a stick on the upstream side, and whoever’s stick first appears on the downstream side wins.

9. Kite Flying 

On a windy day, when it’s a bit nippy to sit on the beach, go fly a kite. You can make your own or buy a colourful ready-made one.

10. Marbles 

Good for a rainy day as you can play indoors as well if you need to, marbles are great for concentration and hand-eye coordination.

11. Cats Cradle 

Cats Cradle requires two players, a loop of string or wool, and some very deft finger movements to follow the patterns. Check out youtube for examples and ideas.

12. Musical Statues 

Even toddlers can play this traditional party game, trying to freeze in place and not wobble when the music stops.

13. Hot Potato 

Another party game where a beanbag is tossed around the circle – make sure you’re not the one holding it when the music stops, or you’re out.

14. Kokan

Beach cricket, Torres Strait-style. It’s a traditional hockey type game played on a long stretch of sandy beach, using a small ball called a “kokan”.

15. Rock, Paper, Scissors 

Summer can involve a lot of queuing to get on rides at fairs and amusement parks, and this is one way to relieve the boredom.

16. Thumb War

Another one that’s good for queues – hold hands in a thumbs up position, and try to outmanoeuvre the other contestant’s thumb. “One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war”.

17. Hide and Seek

A great way to get ten minutes peace – have the kids go and hide, and “fail” to find them while you sit down with a cool drink…You have to love these vintage outdoor games.