Games That Don’t Get Old

Fun with Kids

Many of us have memories of growing up in the city or suburbs. On weekends or after school, our parents would encourage us to “get some fresh air” (most likely an excuse for getting us out of the house). We’d be out for hours, returning only for a snack or to have bandages placed on scraped knees or elbows. 

Grandparents can give children the gift of joyful, freewheeling play, where there is one essential goal: to have fun. We can introduce them to the games that kept us occupied for hours when we were children.

Here are some that I remember. In addition to demonstrating to your grandchild that you are, in fact, fun and fully comfortable being goofy, you can share your memories of being a child. The grandkids will be happy, dirty, exhausted, and grateful.

Here are some games I loved:


Red Light, Green Light 1, 2, 3

Children stand in line 20 or so feet behind the back of the grandparent. The
grandparent shouts out “Red light, green light 1-2-3” during which time the children are allowed to run forward. After calling out the same phrase, the grandparent turns around. If they spy a child moving, the child must go back to the starting line. If not, the grandparent turns their back again and, once again, calls out “Red light, green light 1-2-3.” (Changing cadence is always a good strategy).  The first grandchild to reach the grandparent wins. Reverse roles for more fun.

Sack Race Games that Don't Get Old 72 dpi


Hide and Seek

A perennial favorite. One person covers their eyes and counts to 10 while the other hides. Bellow the words “ready or not, here I come!” Be sure to find goofy places to hide. Choose the difficulty of the hiding place based on the age of the child.

Frisbee Catch

Frisbees are wonderful because they are so unpredictable, and a grandparent can be just as bumbling as a toddler in attempts to throw or catch one. Embrace your ineptitude; your grandchildren will love you for it!



This game works with almost any sized ball, although bigger balls will be better for young children. To begin, have each player count off and remember their number. After everyone is assigned a number, have players group together in a bunch.

One person starts with the ball in the center of the bunch. At the beginning of each round, the person with the ball throws the ball upwards while yelling a number. Everyone disperses in all different directions away from the bunch except for the person whose number was called. That person catches the ball and then yells “Spud!” When he or she yells this, everyone must freeze.

3 legged race Games that Dont Get Old 72 dpi


There’s more: The person with the ball then is allowed to take three giant steps toward any player. He or she throws the ball and tries to hit someone. To dodge, players are allowed to move all parts of their body except their feet. If a player is hit the first time, he or she earns the letter “S,” eventually spelling the word S-P-U-D. The person who was hit becomes the new thrower; otherwise, the thrower who missed earns a letter.

Are you still with me? Trust me, it’s a hoot. The next round begins and play continues. Whoever spells the letter S-P-U-D is out of the game; alternatively, if you do not wish to eliminate players, you can set a time limit and whoever has the least number of letters when time expires is the winner.

Box Ball

This game requires a sidewalk. Alternatively, use chalk to draw two adjacent boxes about 3 feet square on a driveway or concrete surface. The rules are similar to ping pong or tennis. Using a ball (some of us favor Spalding while, for others, Pennsy Pinky work best), slap the ball back and forth, with an open palm, into the box closest to your opponent. They return it back to your box after one bounce or on the fly. If you step into the playing court, fail to return a shot, or if your return shot’s first bounce lands out of your opponent’s box, you lose the volley. Kids can set the required number of points for a win.


Freeze Tag

When the player who is “it” tags another player, they tap them and say “FREEZE!” The participants who are not it need to run, dodge, and hide from the players who are it. They also unfreeze other participants who have been frozen by tapping them and saying “UNFREEZE!” Grandparents with balance issues may want to pass on this one.

Photographs (bottom three) by Stephanie Fink


Playing Tag Games that Don't Get Old 72 dpi