Five forgotten childhood games that your modern kids will love

18 February 2019, 00:00 | Updated: 18 February 2019, 00:01

Your kids might adore old fashioned games - here are some suggestions
Your kids might adore old fashioned games - here are some suggestions. Picture: Getty

Kids might think they can only have fun when absorbed in an app or social media video, but we think that they could be convinced that an oldie is a goodie with these retro games...

Telling children that you grew up in a world without smartphones, hashtags and apps can make them look at you like you're from another planet.

But the chances are that once you've persuaded them to put their device down, you can get them just as enthusiastic about a game of hopscotch as you were when you were their age.

With half-term on the way, why not suggest heading outside and teaching them some of your own schoolyard favourites?

You could even pack up some drinks and sandwiches, invite some other families along and make a proper day of it!


Marbles can be played inside or outside - and games can last for hours.

Kids can save up their pocket money to buy marbles from their local toy shop - and as they're so cheap, you can even treat them to a few new ones without breaking the bank.

The rules:

Draw a circle 90cm wide circle on a pavement in chalk, or make one out of string if you’re playing indoors.

Select one larger 'shooter' marble - this should be bigger than any of your other marbles and then place 5 to 10 other marbles in the centre of the circle.

When it’s your turn, kneel outside the ring and flick your shooter marble out of your fist with your thumb, trying to hit as many marbles out of the ring.

If you knock any marbles out of the ring, keep them and have another turn, but if you don’t knock any marbles out of the ring, leave your shooter marble in the ring.

Continue until the ring is empty.

The winner is the person with the most marbles at the end of the game - you can then return your marbles to each other, unless you have agreed to play for keeps.

Pin the tail on the donkey 

This is fun for one or a few, and is ideal for a rainy day.

Buy or draw a large tail-less donkey, before sticking blu tack on the end of a separate donkey tail.

Hang the donkey picture on a flat surface that is roughly eye level with your party guests, and ask the children to line up in single file and blindfold the first one in the queue.

Give the blindfolded child the donkey tail and gently spin them around three times, before pointing them towards the donkey and asking them to place the tail on the donkey.

Mark the spot where he places the tail with his name.

Once every child has had a turn, the child with the donkey tail closest to the correct position wins.

Marbles is a classic game the younger generation will enjoy
Marbles is a classic game the younger generation will enjoy. Picture: Getty

What’s the time Mr. Wolf  

This a really fun game for a group of children to play - and will send their adrenaline levels surging.

One child is chosen to be Mr Wolf, who then stands at one end of a playing area - a field or church hall is ideal for this.

Mr. Wolf keeps his back to the children, who ask "What's the time Mr Wolf?"

He turns to answer with a random time before turning back to face the wall, where he stays as the children slowly creep closer and closer, continually chanting, "What's the time Mr Wolf?"

He will continue to respond, giving random times until the players are very very close to him.

Seeing them within easy reach he will then respond to the chant with "It's dinner time!" and give chase back to the starting line.

The first person he catches will become Mr Wolf for the next round of the game - or they stay Mr. Wolf for another round.

Oranges and Lemons 

You need a group of children for this game. Two form an arch with their arms after deciding in secret which of them shall be an 'orange' and which a 'lemon'.

All the players sing the Oranges and Lemons song (see below) and the other children take turns to run under their arched arms until one of them is caught when the arch falls, 'chopping' them at the end of the song.

The captured player is privately asked whether they will be an 'orange' or a 'lemon' and then goes behind the original 'orange' or 'lemon' team leader.

The game and singing then starts over again until there are no children left.

The finale of the game sees the teams have a tug of war to test whether the 'oranges' or 'lemons' are stronger.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St Clement's.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I'm sure I don't know,
Says the great bell at Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
Chip, chop, chip, chop, the last man's head.

Please Mr. Crocodile 

One child is Mr Crocodile and the other children form a row and say: "Please Mr Crocodile, can we cross your Golden River?"

Mr Crocodile will give permission to just a select few to venture forwards, for instance saying, "Only if you are wearing red".

If you are wearing that colour you can move on one step safely, but if you aren't wearing something red, Mr Crocodile will try and catch/"snap" you while you dodge and run to the safe zone.

The first person to reach Mr Crocodile and survive- this is achieved either by not wearing any of the chosen colours or by not being caught - is the winner and the next Mr Crocodile.