17 Old-Fashioned Games To Bring Back In Lockdown

Ellie Sylvester
Feb 16, 2024 By Ellie Sylvester
Originally Published on Mar 27, 2020
Japanese Folding fan and a spinning top

It’s time to delve deep back into your childhood and recall all the fun games you used to play as a child - back before the online world came blasting into our lives!

Perhaps not the family fun you envisaged but playing games is a great way to pass the time, educate your youngsters and of course, get a little competitive - who says self-isolation can’t be fun?

We’ve rounded up the top 17 old-fashioned games for families and tried to keep them as non-equipment friendly as possible so they’re super easy to recreate at home.

Start reminiscing and get your game faces on!

Skipping Games

You’ll need: a skipping rope

Now’s the perfect time to dig out your old skipping rope and start putting it to use again. Start off with your basic skip and if your little ones are feeling more adventurous, try levelling up to games such as Cinderella or the Teddy Bear Game!

Plus, skipping is more than just a game, it’s great exercise and helps with children’s fine motor skills - win, win!

Making Chatterboxes

You’ll need: a sheet of A4/origami paper, scissors and coloured pens

Chatterboxes - everyone’s favourite classic game. It’s simple to make and is a great way to get the whole family involved.

1. Take your A4 sheet of paper and fold the right hand bottom corner in so that it lines up with the top edge to form a square, then trim the excess paper and open up the square.

2. After you’ve got your square, fold it in half to make a triangle (point to point) and then unfold.

3. Then fold each of the corners into the centre to create a smaller square and fold this smaller square in half to create a rectangle and then open back out.

4. Flip the square over and then fold each of the corners in to the centre to create another smaller square.

5. Afterwards, flip your square over and you’re ready to begin decorating!

6. On each of the four quarters, write four different colours.

7. Then flip the square over and write numbers 1-8 on the flaps, and underneath you might like to write questions, facts or if you’re feeling brave, dares!

8. With the numbers facing up, fold the square in half to make a rectangle and slip your thumb and pointer fingers into the flaps.

9. Then open and close your chatterbox, moving your fingers up and down and side to side.

10. You’re all set - get chatterboxing!

Cat's Cradle

You’ll need: 40 inches of string (use ribbon/shoestrings if you don’t have any string) tied into a loop

An oldie but a goodie! Cat's Cradle is better suited to older kids but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s impossible to put down.

1. Start by forming the Cat's Cradle - loop the string around the back of both your hands, keeping your thumbs outside.

2. Then loop the string round a second time, ensuring your thumbs are still kept outside.

3. Slide the middle finger of one hand under the strand looped in front of your palm and repeat with your opposite hand - then you’ve formed your Cat's Cradle!

4. Now there should be two X’s on either side of the cradle that your partner can use their thumb and forefinger to pinch those X shaped parts and form the next part of the cradle on their hands.

5. Continue alternating the Cat's Cradle and explore new and different ways to accomplish moving the cradle from one person to another.

6. Our top tip - work together and don’t give up! 

Snap Card Game

You’ll need: paper, scissors, coloured pens and a good memory!

Don’t have snap cards, make your own! Get 2 sheets of A4 paper and cut them into 9 squares on each.

On your squares, you might want to write pairs of numbers, names or if you’re feeling super creative you can draw your own set of designs. Then lay the cards down, jumble them up and try to match two of the same cards.

Blind Man’s Buff

You’ll need: a blindfold (you can always use a scarf/headband)

Gear up your senses for Blind Man’s Buff and get ready for some seriously funny family fun. Blindfold a member of your family and then spin him/her five times whilst the rest of the family members disperse into their hiding spots.

Then it’s up to the blindfolded player to find the family members and once they’ve found someone, they then become the ‘Blind Man’ and so the game continues. It’s best played indoors and in a confined space - that way it remains safe but still hilarious!

Clapping Games

You’ll need: your hands!

Nothing beats the good, old-fashioned clapping games! Whether you used to play for hours in the school playground or have never dabbled in the world of clapping games, it’s something the whole family can get involved with, plus it’s another great one for younger kids and their fine motor skills!

See if you can remember any from your childhood and pass them on to your kids, search Youtube clapping games and see if you can memorise them or why not try and create your own?

Hot Potato

You’ll need: music and a stuffed sock

This family game will have you laughing for hours! All you’ll need is a stuffed sock and music.

Sit in a circle and pass the sock around the circle to the music, pretending that it’s an extremely hot potato. When the music stops, the person holding the sock is out and the last person remaining in the circle wins. Make sure you don’t burn yourself!

Hide and Seek

You’ll need: some good hiding spots

Ready or not, here we come! Hide and Seek might not be original but it’s super fun to play and doesn’t require any equipment or set up.

Classic Marbles

You’ll need: a bag of marbles, A4 sheet of paper, pencil and a plate

Marbles provide endless entertainment for both younger kids and old. To play classic marbles, draw a circle around a medium sized plate on an A4 sheet of paper and arrange several marbles in a circle formation around the circle.

Then take it in turns to flick marbles into the circle, attempting to knock the marbles out. The person who knocks the most marbles out wins!

Hula Hoop Games

You’ll need: a hula hoop

Grab your hula hoops and get swinging! Not only can hula hoops be used for, you know, hula hooping, there’s endless possibilities for activities and games for kids too.

For example, try threading your body through the hoop by passing the hoop from one hand over your head and down your body. Or why not try human ring tossing - if Mum or Dad are brave enough!

The Telephone Game

You’ll need: a really quiet whisper and imagination

For this one, the bigger the group the funnier! The Telephone Game provides hours of entertainment and laughs and doesn’t require anything except people.

The concept of the game is that one person thinks of a phrase and that phrase gets whispered around the circle. Once the phrase gets to the last person in the circle, they have to say it aloud and more often than not, it’s entirely different to the original phrase!

To up the difficulty, try and get creative with the phrases as you go along!

Spinning Tops

You’ll need: a plastic lid, large toothpick, paper, scissors, coloured pens, metal skewer

Spinning tops are great for younger kids, plus they are pretty easy to make! Here’s how:

1. Find a plastic lid, either from a water bottle, coffee container etc. and trace around it on a sheet of paper.

2. Cut out the circle with a pair of scissors and then fold it in half horizontally, open it out and then fold it vertically and unfold. Feel free to decorate your circle at this point!

3. Fit and glue the paper circle in the lid and then poke a hole through the both of them in the middle using a metal skewer - grown-ups only!

4. Then fit a toothpick or wooden skewer through the hole in the plastic and you’re all set to get spinning!

Card Games

You’ll need: a pack of cards

When it comes to card games, the sky’s the limit! Ranging in difficulty and length, there’s so many to choose from but we think ‘Pig’ also known as ‘Go Fish’ is a great card game to start with. Here’s how to play:

1. Deal four cards to each of the players.

2. Then each player passes one card to the left and picks up the card passed by the player on their right. Depending on the ages and abilities of your kids, you might want to speed up the passing as the game goes on.

3. As soon as a player assembles four cards of one denomination, they must stop passing and picking up cards and put their finger to their nose.

4. The last person to stop passing and put their finger to their nose is the Pig!



You’ll need: some nifty acting skills

A game of charades always guarantees laughs all round and makes the time fly by. Playing charades is super simple:

1. Choose a film, TV show or book and indicate, through mime, which of the three your chosen charade is.

2. To indicate a film: pretend to crank an old movie camera. To indicate a TV show: make a square shape with your pointer fingers. To indicate a book: pretend to be reading a book.

3. After the audience has guessed which category your chosen charade falls into, indicate how many words are in the title by holding up your fingers.

4. Then indicate the number of the word in the title and begin to act it out (for example, if the film is The Lion King and you wanted to act out the Lion, you would hold your second finger up).

5. Continue to act out the words until someone guesses your charade and make sure to keep track of the person with the most correct guesses!

Twenty Questions

You’ll need: to put your detective hats on

Guessing makes great games for kids! All you have to do is take it in turns to think of an object or person and let the others guess who/what it is through asking twenty yes/no questions. To make it trickier, try thinking of fictional characters!

I Spy

You’ll need: little eyes

I Spy is always a great crowd pleaser! You’ll be surprised at how many unique things you’ll find in your home as you scan the kitchen for the most obscure items. Plus, if you want to ramp up the difficulty, why not pick things which are two words, for example, photo frame or door handle.


Memory Game

You’ll need: a good memory

We went to the shops and we bought… Memory games are super addictive and can last ages so are great for times like these. Our favourite memory games for kids are:

'I went to the shops':

1. One person starts by saying ‘I went to the shops and I bought (something beginning with the letter A)’.

2. Then the next person continues by saying the previous item (apple) and then something beginning with the letter B.

3. Continue working through the alphabet, adding one more item to the end of the list each time and see how far you can get!

'What’s missing':

1. This game is aimed predominantly at younger children.

2. Place some objects on a tray and allow your child to memorise the objects.

3. Then cover the tray with a tea towel and ask your child to close their eyes whilst you remove an object before showing your child the tray again.

4. Then see if they can remember which object you removed - the more similar the objects, the harder it is! 

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Written by Ellie Sylvester

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ellie Sylvester picture

Ellie SylvesterBachelor of Arts specializing in English

As a passionate Londoner, Ellie enjoys exploring the city's theaters and food markets with her younger siblings. She has a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Nottingham. She's particularly fond of Primrose Hill and the Natural History Museum, as well as the constantly changing Spitalfields Market. In addition to her love of theater, Ellie also enjoys trying new foods and dabbling in musical theater.

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