Monday, August 18, 2014

Games with Benefits

The games young animals play prepare them for adult life.  Likewise, childhood games like I played as a child help prepare children for the demands of school.  Large and small muscles develop and eye-hand coordination improve as these games are played over and over.  The mastery of these games build perseverance, concentration, and a feeling of accomplishment.  How many of the following games did you play?  How many are enjoyed by children today? 

How I loved to play jacks! I can remember sitting on the our linoleum floor in the kitchen crying with frustration, trying to master the coordination required to play this game.  I was so happy when I finally conquered it! My sister and I played many an hour at home.  My friend across the street from my house and I played jacks at recess with classmates many, many times.  I taught my second graders to play jack on inside recess days.  I started by first having them master the bounce-catch rhythm with the ball before we moved the bounce-grab-catch moves with the ball and jacks.  Here are the rules.

Pick-up sticks is a game that calls for a little more fine motor skills than most 1st and 2nd graders possess.  Most 3rd or 4th graders have the steadiness to master this game and possibly a few 2nd graders have the ability.  This short video shows a couple of techniques for getting a stick out of the pile without moving any other sticks.

I was a lousy yoyoer, but my brother and his friends got pretty good.  It sure is fun to watch someone who is a whiz at yoyoing, like these folks

Paddle ball is not too difficult for many children.  I played it a lot when I in grade school.  Watch this little girl.  She's like the Eveready battery bunny!

 I never played marbles that I recall, but my husband has very fond memories of playing them.  I don't know of any kids that play this game these days.  It's a game that calls for a great deal of eye-hand coordination.  Here's how to shoot a marble, here are the rules, and here are some other activities you can do with marbles.

My sister and girlfriend and I honed our cutting skills and imaginations when playing with our paper dolls.  We each kept our dolls and wardrobes in a special box so they would be ready for our many play sessions with them.  McCalls magazine printed Betsy McCall and her new set of clothes each month.  We made up stories to use our dolls in and even drew, colored, and cut out our own costume designs for our paper dolls.

Hula Hooping
Jumping Rope


As we played these games with our friends, we never dreamed such entertainment was also helping our fine and gross motor skills, concentration, eye-hand coordination, coordination, social skills, perseverance, patience, confidence, and imaginations grow and develop.  We were just having fun without depending on adults or technology to keep us entertained.


I've only listed a few of the childhood games I remember.  I'll bet you can think of more.  Please post your reminiscences below.  Consider teaching the children in your life some of these old favorites they don't know about.  You'll be helping their brains and muscles develop as they have fun like I (and probably you) did.


  1. hmmmm....don't see video games on here anywhere... And the children look happy and contented! And are those girls playing OUTSIDE? Could we possibly retrain our young minds to step away from the video games and televisions to enter the world of creative play and interaction? Perhaps we CAN teach an old dog new, uh...."young children." :)

    1. Step 1 would be to limit exposure to electronics. Sadly, in some cases they have become baby sitters for the young ones and even ways of avoiding conflict for older kids. However, there are lots of good things to be seen and learned through television, video games, and the Internet. The key is balance.