Hop on Back to the Future’s DeLorean time machine and let’s have a blast from the colorful past.
Before texts and video calls became a thing, the sure-fire way to know where your friends are hanging out is to see which front yard has the most number of bikes sprawled all over the garage. If not bikes, then the most number of mismatched pairs of shoes lined in the front door. And when we hang out, we don’t simply stay inside, we enjoy the sun and sweat all day. We all have our favorite old-school outdoor games, right? How about we pass these 90s outdoor games on to live on tradition?
Why Play Outside?
Before the advent of gaming consoles or any kind of device, kids really had no choice but to play outside. Run around with friends or rely on their creativity and imagination to pass time. Around the 1980s, the earliest Nintendo gaming console was produced. But, it did not falter the popularity and preference for the 90s outdoor games. Rather, the presence of game consoles provided additional recreational activities than a replacement.
And thank goodness for that. Playing outside brings more benefits than what we can think right off the bat. It helps in a child’s physical and social development. Aside from those obvious ones, it also helps develop the mental and emotional aspects of the child’s wellbeing. Most outdoor games require cooperation among groups to defeat, to outsmart, the other group. In a sense, it is the earliest attempt of formulating strategies that will, later on, be an excellent foundation for the child’s sense of critical thinking.
Taking risks and calculating them is another benefit that comes with playing outdoors that we often do not realize. In a published article by Harvard Health Publishing, encouraging your kids to play outdoors will lead them to take risks that will help in holistic development. Just thinking about the risky decisions your child will make when they’re outside will make any parent anxious and stressed out, but at the end of the day, know that letting them make their own decisions early on helps them manage their lives later on.
Lastly, why did we really want to play outside as kids?
90s outdoor games or not, we wanted to run around and be carefree. During playtime, kids get to release all the pent-up energy that is stored from sitting idly at home for long hours. Aside from that, children who prefer to play outside have a greater sense of appreciation of natural sceneries. Some even have their own little spots around the neighborhood. Others have their own little nook to witness the sunset and the light hitting the right spots to create shadows and silhouettes.
Why Childhood 90s Outdoor Games Aren’t Just for Old Times’ Sake
Granted that playing outside with friends has a number of benefits, playing childhood games isn’t just an ode to the past. Playing it and passing our knowledge about these games to our children is like passing on culture. Passing on the rules and the knowledge isn’t that simple. You also need to pass down hope that they get to enjoy these games as much as we did when we were younger.
Also, another thing that makes these outdoor games great is that they’re classic and timeless. Most of them don’t require a lot of fancy equipment that will go out of production in the next years. As long as you have some space and friends to play with, then everything will go on smoothly.
So, no. Playing outdoor games isn’t just nostalgic and sentimental, it bears more meaning than that.
Old School Outdoor Games and How to Play Them
Kick the Can
This is one of the 90s outdoor games that may have been your first sight at heroism. Kick the Can is a variation of hide and seek. There’s no limit on the number of people who can join the game. You only need to choose an IT and the IT is tasked to look for all the other players. The other players are given time to look for covers to hide themselves as the IT counts down. And don’t forget the metal can. The metal can should be in the middle of the playing area. The IT basically has two major roles. They need to find and capture the other players, and at the same time, they need to protect the can from being kicked. Why? Because if one of the other players gets to kick the can, all the captured players will be released and they can have a chance to hide from the IT again. The game ends once the IT captures all the players.
You can play spud with at least five people, a bouncing ball, and a whole will to run around. Start off by choosing an IT to start the game. This IT will not be the only IT for the entire game. Each of the other players will be assigned a number and then the IT will throw the ball upwards. Once it reaches its highest peak, the IT will choose and call out an assigned number. At this point, everyone needs to pay full attention. The player whose number was called out should catch or run after the ball. Once they get the ball, everyone else should stop moving and the one holding the ball will throw the ball at someone. If they get to hit the other player successfully, that person gets a letter from SPUD. The first player gets S and so on until the word SPUD gets completed. If the ball didn’t hit any player, the thrower shall be the IT for the next round.
Monkey in the Middle
Another favorite among 90s outdoor games, especially during break times, is monkey in the middle. The name is pretty much straightforward. Gather at least three people and a ball to enjoy the game. The IT or the monkey gets to stand in the middle of the other players. If there are more than three players, the monkey will stand in the middle of a circle. The IT’s goal during the game is to intercept the ball as the other players pass it around. When the monkey successfully gets the ball, the thrower will become the new monkey. An added benefit of this outdoor game is that it isn’t for little children only. Adults can play and enjoy this too. And with some modifications, this game can also be an effective sports drill.
When it comes to talking about some good old outdoor games, it would be a mortal sin to leave out tag. Even if tag is a relatively simple game, it surely is very enjoyable and a favorite of many. You don’t even need any equipment to enjoy a game, what you need is a handful of people to play with. Before you start running around, the players must decide who will be the first IT. Some decide through rock-paper-scissors, while others decide by blind picking. Once the game starts, all players must run around and the IT shall decide who to tag. The player that the IT successfully tags will be the next IT. To make it more exciting, some players add a rule that you can’t tag the person who tagged you. Tag is pretty much just running around and shouting when the IT gets near you. It ends when everyone starts to get tired. As I said, tag is pretty much a straightforward game.
Hide and Seek
Another outdoor game classic is, of course, hide and seek. Playing this game is almost a rite of passage from childhood to teenage years. Even parents play this with their children from time to time to spend some quality time together. The goal of this game is simple. Someone from the group is the IT. The IT will countdown from ten or twenty or a hundred if there are many people playing the game. The other players will then choose a hiding place and try their best so that they won’t be tagged by the IT. The game ends once the IT finds all the other players. However, there is a more exciting version of this game. It’s like a combination of hide and seek and tag. So, what happens is that there will be an area where the other players can run to and tag themselves as SAFE. Once they are in that spot, the IT isn’t allowed to tag them. But if the IT sees the other player running towards the area, the IT can tag the other player and be marked out from the game.
If you’re not a fan of running as a child, this game might have been one of your favorites. You can definitely teach this game to your kids and, maybe, show off your skills just a little bit. Take out some of your sidewalk chalk to create a hopscotch grid on your sidewalk or garage area. You also need a stone that’s good enough for throwing. The players take turns in throwing the stone to the first grid until they complete the entire grid. If the thrower misses the grid, the next player gets to play. The game is really easy yet it’s fun to play with friends. It fosters some friendly competition too.
Jump-Rope (Double Dutch)
Jump-rope is also a fun outdoor game that is enjoyable alone and with friends. If you want to have some alone time, you can use one jump-rope and play until you get tired. It’s also an effective cardio exercise. However, you can also play jump-rope with friends, but you need more people. There must be people who will hold either end of the rope and two or three of you will try to jump over the rope at the same time. It’s fun to stumble over the rope with your friends. If you want to up the challenge, even more, there’s always double dutch. Similar to the previous one, there are still people who will hold either tip of the rope but they will follow a different pattern in swaying. It takes a long time to perfect but it’s enjoyable every time.
Take some time off work and spend it with your children. Relive the times when what you wanted all day was to run around and play catch or tag or hopscotch. Don’t just tell your kids that you had a fun and memorable childhood, let them feel it by teaching them your favorite games. Encourage them to play under the sun together with their friends. Let your children see how enjoyable outdoor games are and how their benefits affect adulthood.