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Traditional "Old Time" Kids Games - Active

Kids Party Games- Kids Group Activities

Cat and Mouse

One child is designated to play the role of cat, another that of mouse. The mouse can escape thecat by sitting in the seat with some other child. Thereupon that child becomes mouse. Should the cattag a mouse before it sits in a seat, the mouse becomes cat and the cat becomes mouse, and the lattermust get into a seat to avoid being tagged.

Button, Button

The children sit or stand in a circle with their hands in front of them, palms together. The one whohas been selected to be "It" takes a position in the center of the circle, with his hands in a similarposition. A button is held between his hands. He goes around the circle and places his hand overthose of various individuals, dropping the button into the hands of one. He continues about thecircle, still making the motions of dropping the button in the hands of others, so as to deceive thosemaking up the ring. After he has taken his place in the center of the circle, those in the ringendeavor to guess into whose hands he has dropped the button, the one succeeding in doing thistakes the button and continues the game.


Some object is determined upon for hiding, such as a coin, a button, a book, etc. A child is sentfrom the room. During his absence the object is hidden. Upon his return the children buzzvigorously when he is near to the object sought and very faintly when he is some distance away.The object is located by the intensity of the buzzing.

I See Red

One child, “the thinker” is given the privilege of thinking of some object in the room. He tells hisclassmates the color of the object he’s thinking of. For example, if he sees a red apple he says, "Isee red." Thereupon the other children try to guess what red object in the room he is thinking of. Thefirst child to guess correctly is the next “thinker”.

Hide the Clock

This is a good quiet game for the schoolroom. A loud ticking clock is necessary for the game. Allof the children are sent from the room. One of them is selected to hide the clock. The others, uponcoming back, try to locate it by its ticking. The child that finds the clock gets to hide it next.

Charlie over the Water

(Editor’s Note: Kind of like Ring Around The Rosies with a twist!)

This is an old game and is always popular. The children form a ring, joining hands. One isselected to be "It" and takes his place in the center. Those in the ring then dance around, singing,"Charlie, over the water, Charlie, over the sea, Charlie, catch a blackbird, But can't catch me."Having completed these lines, they all assume a stooping position before "Charlie," who is "It," cantag them. If he succeeds in tagging one, that one takes his place in the circle and the gamecontinues.

Tap Relay

The children of each aisle constitute a team. All bend their heads forward, placing their faces in thepalms of their hands on the top of the desk. At the signal to go, given by the teacher, the one in thelast seat in each aisle sits up, claps his hands and taps the back of the student in front of him, whichis the signal for that student to sit up, clap, and tap the student in front of him. In this manner, thetap is passed until it reaches the student in the front seat of the aisle, who, upon being tapped, standsup, clapping his hands above his head. The first to stand and clap their hands above their head winsthe race.

Spin Around Race

A boy is selected from each aisle to take his place at least six feet in front of the aisle. Upon thesignal to go, the last boy in each aisle runs forward to the right of his desk and links his left arm inthe right arm of the boy standing in front of his aisle, and in this position spins around twice,returning to his seat, and tagging off the boy next in front of him, who repeats the performance. Thelast boy in the aisle to spin around ends the race when he has returned to a sitting position in hisseat.

Name Tag

A child who is "It" is sent to the board. He writes thereupon the name (initials can be substitutedinstead) of some other child in the room. That child is to try to tag "It" before he can return to hisseat. If successful, he becomes "It" and continues the game by writing some one else's initial on theboard.

Hunt the Rattler

All of the players in the room are blindfolded, except one, who is given a tin can in which isplaced a loose pebble. He is known as the "rattler." The blindfolded players attempt to locate andtag the rattler by the rattle. The first child to tag the rattler takes the place of the rattler.

Corner Spry

The children in the room are divided into four equal teams. Each team is assigned to a differentcorner. A leader stands in front of each team with a bean bag, cap, or ball. At the signal to start, theleader tosses to and receives from each member of his team in turn the bean bag. Having receivedthe bag from the last one in his line, he takes his place at the foot of the line, and the one at the headof the line becomes leader and proceeds to toss the ball to each member as did the preceding leader.The group, in which all have served as leaders and which successfully completes the game first,wins.

Flag Race

The children of each aisle constitute a team. Flags are given to the children in each front seat. On thesignal to go, each child holding a flag steps out on the right hand side of the seat, runs around thefront of his own aisle, back on the left hand side, around the rear seat, returning to his own seat upthe right hand aisle, and hands the flag on to the one next behind him, who continues the race.When all the children in the aisle have circled their row of seats with the flag, the last one, instead ofreturning to his seat, runs forward and holds the flag above his head in front of his aisle. The onefirst succeeding in reaching the front, wins the race.

In this race it is often better to run two aisles at a time and thus avoid the possibility of childrenbumping into each other in their attempt to race through the aisles. In this way the various winnerscan race against each other, making an interesting contest.


This game stimulates quick thinking. A student is selected by the teacher to start the game, andthereupon gives some word to which the first child in the aisle must give a rhyming word before theformer can count ten. Failing to do this, the leader continues and gives a word to the second one inthe aisle. The rhyming words are to be given before the leader has completed his count of ten. Thenthe one succeeding in giving the word replaces the leader.

Clapping Song

A child is selected by the teacher to clap the rhythm of a familiar song. The rest of the children inthe room try to guess the name of the song being clapped. The first child to guess correctly will bethe next clapper!

Number Relay

The children of each aisle constitute a team. They are numbered, beginning with the one in the firstseat. The teacher describes some mathematical problem she desires done and calls certain numbers.All the children having those numbers rush to the board and compute the problem. The first back tohis seat wins a point for his team, the aisle gaining the largest number of points wins the game.

Last Man

This is an active game thoroughly enjoyed by the children. The teacher selects one child to be"It," and another to be chased. The one chased can stand at the rear of any aisle and say, "Last man."Thereupon the front child in that aisle is subject to being tagged by "It" and leaves his seat. All theother children in that aisle advance one seat and the first man chased sits down in the last seat in theaisle. "It" tries to tag the man who left the front seat before he can go to the rear of any of the aisles.Should he succeed in doing so, he can immediately be tagged back if he does not hurry to the rear ofsome aisle and say "Last man."(Caution: Should any child appear fatigued when "It," substitute another child in his place).

Change Seats

This is a good relaxation game. The teacher says, "Change seats left." Thereupon all the childrenshift to the seats to their left. The children who are in the last aisle on the left must run around theroom and occupy the vacant seats on the right hand side. Should the teacher say, "Change seatsright," the reverse of the proceeding is necessary. The teacher can also say, "Change seats front," or"Change seats rear," and the children are expected to obey the commands. Those left without seatsmust run to the other end of the room and take any seat found vacant there.

Relay Run Around

The children of each aisle constitute a team. The child in the last seat in each row, upon the signalto go, steps out in the right hand aisle, runs forward around the front of his row of seats, back on theleft hand side, circling the rear seat, and sits down, touching off the next child in front of him, whorepeats the performance. The aisle first accomplishing the run, wins.


One child is selected to be "It". He stands with his back to the group and counts five, at the end ofwhich he turns rapidly around. If he sees any of the group moving, that one seen must go back tothe starting line. While the one "It" is counting, it is the object of the group to progress toward himas rapidly as possible.


The players stand behind a line. Each in turn must cover the space between said line and anotherline twenty yards distant by a manner of progress different from that used by any of the previousplayers. For example, the first one called upon to cover the intervening space between the lineswalks, the second one runs, the third hops, the fourth crawls, the fifth walks backward, etc., and soon until all of the players have reached the far line. This game taxes the ingenuity of the last playersto be called upon, as they have to initiate new methods of progress.

Shadow Tag

This game is similar to ordinary tag, with the exception that the child who is "It" must touch orstep on the shadow of one of the players to get them! Succeeding in doing this, the player whoseshadow is tagged becomes "It".

Handkerchief Tag

A player is selected to be "It". A knotted handkerchief is given to the rest of the players. "It" canonly tag the player holding the handkerchief in his hands. The players endeavor to get rid of thehandkerchief by throwing it from one to another. Should the handkerchief fall upon the ground,there is no one for "It" to tag until it has been picked up by one of the players.

Back to Back

This is a tag game in which "It" may tag anyone who is not back to back with one other player.Players may not remain back-to-back for more than 30 seconds!

Turtle Tag

One player is selected to be "It" and chases the rest. In order to avoid being tagged, a player maylie upon his back with both feet and hands off the ground.

Antony Over

A group is divided into two teams, A and B. The game is played around a small building, such asa small school house or wood shed, around which there is free running space. To team A is given asoft ball, such as a tennis or yarn ball. The ball is thrown over the building to team B. If it is caughtby one of the players of team B, the whole team slips around the building, all going in the samedirection, and trying to hit with the ball some one on team A before they can get around to theopposite side of the building. Team A tries to escape being hit by dodging and running around thebuilding to the opposite side. If a player is hit, he goes to B side. The teams keep their new placesand B throws the ball over to A. If the ball is not caught, it is thrown back and forth over thebuilding until caught. The team which first hits all of its opponents wins, or a time limit may beagreed upon and the team having the greatest number of players at the end of that time, wins.

Pass Ball

The group forms a circle and is counted off in 2's. The Number 1's are given a ball or some otherobject easily tossed, at one side of the circle and the Number 2's a like object on the other side of thecircle. Then 1 competes against 2 by passing the object around the circle, to have it overtake thatpassed by the other team. When the object passed by one team has overtaken and passed that of theother, it counts one point and the game starts over, with the objects on opposite sides of the circle.

Channel Tag

The group forms a circle, faces to the right and assumes a stride position. The one selected to be"It" takes his place in the center of the circle. The others pass a ball or bean bag either backward orforward between their legs. The one in the center tries to capture the ball or bag. If he succeeds, theone last touching it must take his place in the center of the circle. Everyone must touch the ball orbag when it passes by them, either forward or backward.

Dodge Ball (‘Soak Em’)

A sock stuffed with straw (you can substitute the straw with cotton balls) is used in this game. Acircle is drawn upon the ground. The group is divided into two teams. One team takes its place inthe center of the circle, the other lines up around the circumference. Those on the outside of the ringendeavor, without stepping over the line, to throw and hit those within. Succeeding, the one hit mustlie upon the ground within the ring. The others endeavor to avoid being hit by dodging here andthere. When everyone in the first team in the ring has been hit, they take their position outside of thering and throw at their opponents. The team succeeding in hitting all of the opponents in the

quickest time, wins.

Ball Tag

The one who is "It" is armed with a soft ball. He attempts to tag another by means of hitting himwith the ball. The one who is hit becomes "It".

Couple Tag

Similar to ordinary tag, except that the group is arranged in couples. Couples must lock arms. Thecouple which is "It" endeavors to tag some other couple. If either of the men making up the "It"couple succeeds in tagging either man of another couple, that group is "It".

Twenty Questions

This is a quiet, entertaining and instructive game. One member of the family is given theprivilege of thinking of some specific object anywhere in the universe. The others endeavor to guesswhat that object is and are only allowed to ask twenty questions in doing so. The one who thinks ofthe object to be guessed, only answers the questions asked by yes or no. It is exceptional when theobject is not guessed, no matter how difficult it may be, before the twenty questions have beenasked.

Example,—the King of Belgium is selected by the player. The first question asked by anotherplayer is, "Is it in the animal kingdom?" This question is answered by "Yes".Second question: "Is it in a menagerie?"Answer: "No."Third question: "Is it a man?"Answer: "Yes."Fourth question: "Is it an historical character?"Answer: "Yes."Fifth question: "Is he an American?"Answer: "No."And so the questions and answers continue. Any one has the privilege of asking a question at anytime. The one who is thinking of the subject keeps a record of the number of questions asked. If anyone has guessed within twenty questions, he has the opportunity of thinking of the new object to beguessed.

You Know Me

One of the group is given the privilege of starting the game by assuming he is some well knowncharacter, and makes the statement, "I am the man who invented the lightning rod". The others ofthe group endeavor to guess who he is. The one first guessing Benjamin Franklin is given theopportunity of continuing the game by assuming he is some other prominent character.

Hide the Thimble OR ‘Warm or Cold’

All of the group leave the room, except one, who hides somewhere about the room a thimble. Theothers are then called back and endeavor to find it. If the thimble is hidden in a very difficult place,the one who hid it can inform the searchers if they are "warm" or "cold"; "warm" indicating thatthey are near, "cold" that they are not seeking in the right place.

Tit Tat Too or Tic Tac Toe

A diagram similar to the illustration (Fig. 1) is drawn on a sheet of paper. Two players only canparticipate. The first player marks a cross in any of the spaces between the lines; the next playermakes a circle in any other space. The object of the game is to have one of the players succeed inplacing three of his marks in a straight line, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, upon thediagram. If neither succeeds, a new diagram is drawn and the game continues. The player makingthe crosses has won the game in (Fig. 2) as he has three crosses in a line.

Last Match

Three piles of matches (blunt/rounded toothpicks may be substituted instead) are placed upon thetable. Each pile can contain anywhere from ten to twenty matches. The object of the game is tomake your opponent pick up the last match, two players playing. Playing proceeds by each playertaking up from any one pile as many matches as he wishes. He may take all in the pile if he sodesires. Each takes matches in turn, endeavoring to make it so that the opponent has to take the lastmatch left on the board.

Spinning for 20

A wooden top is made by sawing off the end of a large spool and sticking a match or small stickthrough the hole in the centre. Four concentric circles are drawn upon a sheet of paper which shouldbe about twelve inches square. Inside of the smallest circle, which should have a diameter of 2inches, the number 20 is placed. The next circle outside of this one, having a diameter 2 inchesgreater, should be numbered 15, the next circle numbered 10, and the next 5.

The players spin the top in turn. Should it cease spinning so that the point of the pin lies withinthe centre circle, a score of 20 is made. Should it fall outside of the last circle, no score is made. Theplayer first gaining 100 points wins the game.

Treasure Hunt

This game is a very adaptable one and can be run in a great number of different ways. It can be assimple or as complex as any leader may desire.A mysterious letter may be read to the group or a letter in code posted where the group can see it.The contents of this letter will direct any one to a place where he will find detailed information as tothe exact location of a buried treasure. By following instructions or working out the code, a boy willdiscover a second letter in hiding, or a time limit may be allowed to find letter number 3. At the endof that time the information contained in the second letter may be given to the entire group, so thatall may hunt for letter number 3. This method keeps everybody in the game. As many letters may behidden as desired, using the treasure as the last. This game can be used to teach observation, trailingand tracking. Letters using identification of trees, flowers, marks on trees, birds' nests, etc., may beused. Map and chart reading make the game more difficult. Letters may be written in Morse andContinental codes, or easy codes may be made. The hidden treasure is well, anything you wish it tobe. Suggestions include candy, a small toy or some other special treat.

Hide and Seek

One boy is chosen to be "IT." He blinds his eyes while the others hide. He counts 100 by 5's, thensays, "Ready or not, you must be caught." He then endeavors to find the hidden players. Succeedinghe must tag the goal and call the name of the player observed. Should he, in seeking a player, passthe spot where one is hidden, that player can race in to the goal and say, "In free." The one who is"It," however, can tag that player or the goal. When all the players have been discovered, the onefirst discovered or caught by "It" must blind his eyes for the next game. One who succeeds ingetting "In free" is not subject to being "It" in the next hide.

Hang Tag

This is a good game to play around a barn or in a grove where there are low limbs. A player isselected to be "It." He may tag any player who is not hanging with feet clear of the ground. Theplayer tagged immediately becomes "It" and may tag back the one who tagged him after thatindividual has taken five steps.

Fox in Hole

Any number of players may participate in this game. The playing area should not be too large. Afour foot circle is marked upon the ground as a base. One player is selected to be the Fox. While thefox is on the base he may stand on two feet, but when he leaves the base to catch any of the otherplayers he must hop on one foot. Should a player become tagged, he becomes the fox, and the otherplayers may slap him on the back until he is safe on the base. Should the fox put the other foot down, he must return to the base, and every player may slap him on the back until he succeeds indoing this, but no player can block his path to the base.

Fence Tag

This is a simple active game which can be played where there is a low fence or bar, over whichthe players may easily climb or vault. A player is selected to be "It". He takes his place on theopposite side of the fence from the other players and must climb or vault over and endeavor to tagsomeone who fails to get over the fence in time. "It" cannot tag anyone whose feet are off theground, in an effort to get over the fence. Neither can he tag anyone who is standing on the otherside of the fence from him. This is a very active game, as it keeps the players leaping back and forthover the fence in an effort to avoid being tagged. A player tagged immediately becomes "It". Hecannot tag back the one who tagged him, until after that one has a fair chance to get on the otherside of the fence.


One of the players in the group hides, while the other players seek to find him. Should a playersucceed, he endeavors to get into the hiding place unobserved by the others and hides with the firstplayer. As the game continues, and other players succeed in finding the hiding place, the number ofhiding players continues to increase until they are packed in like sardines, hence the name. It isdifficult for them, crowded together, in this way, to keep from disclosing the hiding place to theremaining players. The game continues until the last player has discovered the hiding place. Thefirst one to make the discovery hides in the next round.This is a good game to be played around a farm house where there are a number of hiding places,or in the woods where there are trees, boulders and ravines.

One Step Off and All the Way Across

Two goal lines about fifteen yards apart are marked upon the playing space. This game can beplayed on the road, using the opposite curb stones as goal lines (as permitted by parents.) A playeris selected to be "It" and takes his place between the goal lines. He starts the game by saying, "Onestep off and all the way across". Thereupon, all the players who may be behind either goal line,upon stepping over the goal line, must run across the space between the goal lines towards theopposite goal. "It" endeavors to tag the players as they run between the goal lines. Each playertagged, helps "It" in tagging the others. After the game starts, the players may run back and forthbetween the goal lines at will. The game continues until all the players are tagged. The first playertagged becomes "It" for the next game.

Dodge Ball

This is a game enjoyed by boys. It is necessary to have half a dozen soft yarn balls or indoorbaseballs or bean bags for this game. A large number of players can participate. A playing space ismarked off on the ground with a line drawn through the centre. The group is divided into two equalteams. The teams take positions on opposite sides of the center line. The balls are divided equallybetween the two teams. At the signal to start the balls are thrown at such opponents as may hold oneof the balls. The players may move around in their playing space, but are not allowed to step overthe centre line. Each time a player is hit by an opponent, he drops out of the game. The team firstretiring all of the opponents wins.

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