I have warm-hearted childhood memories of playing group games with my cousins and the kids in the neighbourhood. In this article I reminisce and share with you some of those fond childhood memories of traditional group games.
An Awesome Outside Night Group Game
On the coastal seaweed banks, whilst camping with family friends, we would play a night group game called ‘Kick the Can’. We loved this game because of the exhilaration of hiding in the dark from our ‘enemy’.
The aim was to kick the Can without being caught by the Spotter who held the torch.
We’d run around late into the night dodging the torch light, hiding behind sea weed banks and sneaking along the sand dune from bush to bush. We’d watch from the dark corners, our comrades getting picked off one by one by the Spotter. They would be sent to the Spotter’s jail!
We’d join forces with those still at large to mount a strategic counter attack to free our captured friends! The only way to free them was to kick the Can.
If you managed to do that, you would most definitely be the hero of the game!
Have you Ever Tried Playing Hid-n-Seek, Back-to-Front?
Another fun traditional group game that we played all the time in the back yard with the neighbourhood kids was a game called ‘Squashed Sardines’.
This game is a reverse of Hide-n-Seek. Rather than one person counting whilst all the other players hid; with Squashed Sardines, one person hides whilst all the other players count.
Once the countdown was complete, we would franticly race around searching for our buddy who was secretly hiding. When found, we would silently slide into their secret hiding spot awaiting others to find us. These guys would also join us in our hiding spot.
When the last poor sole finally discovers us and our hiding spot… we’d jump out shouting, “Squashed Sardines”. It was our worst nightmare to be that last poor sole! (Find more outdoor group games here)
Heads Down Thumbs Up a Traditional Group Game
At school, our teachers would have us playing traditional group games. An old favourite, that has stood the time, is ‘Heads Down Thumbs Up’. Such a simple game that we were so stoked to play!
I bet many of you played this game as well.
Five students were selected to quietly move around the class, each picking a player by touching their thumb. These players had their head buried on their desks and their eyes closed.
Once all five students have made their selections, the coordinator of the game (which was usually one of us kids!) would call, “heads up stand up”.
Those who had had their thumb touched would stand. Each would have an opportunity to guess who it was who touched their thumb. If they guessed correctly, they would get to swap with that out the front. Then the game repeats.
I used to try and peek under my arm at the feet of the kids doing the picking. I’d usually end up getting caught!
Do the French Play Cricket?
A cool group game we played on the oval was ‘French Cricket’.
This was played with a bat and a ball. The batter’s legs were his/her wickets.
The aim was to hit the batter’s legs below the knee with the ball! Not as easy as it sounds.
Fielders would work together, passing the ball between themselves whilst moving in on the Batter. The Batter wasn’t allowed to move his/her feet unless he/she manages to hit the ball with their bat when the ball was tossed underarm at their ‘wickets’. When the ball has hit, the Batter could race off to find a new spot on the oval.
As soon as a player picked up the ball again, that player would call out “freeze”, and the Batter would stand with feet still again, ready to defend their wickets. Fielders were not permitted to run when they had the ball.
They had to pass the ball to players closer to the Batter. Attacking the Batter with the ball from behind made it easier to get them out. If the ball was being tossed at the batter’s legs from behind, then the Batter would have to keep their feet pointing in one direction, whilst twisting their body around to defend their wickets with the bat.
French Cricket works best with small groups of about six players. I have no idea if French Cricket was a game the French play!
Do you Remember These Traditional Group Games from Your School Days?
A bunch of other traditional group games that I remember playing as a kid were ‘Four Square’ and ‘Wall Ball’ on the quad; ‘Knuckle-Bones’ and ‘Elastics’ in the hallways; and ‘Brandy’ and ‘British Bulldog’ out on the oval. We loved pen and paper games like Boxes, SOS and Pen Flick; or games to practice number concepts (Buz) or for learning our spelling words (Beat-the-Chalk).
I have so many happy childhood memories. It was a time long before electronic games and social media. Playing group games helped me form the foundations to who I am today.
Now, here I am many years later, a Dad to seven kids and a school teacher, reliving my awesome childhood with my own cool little tribe of kids at home and with the kids I teach!
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