childhood games in the 90s

Vintage and retro are some of the buzzwords these days, whether it’s related to fashion, home furnishings and décor, hairstyles or music. The good old days were fun times to be a kid. For one thing, school was a whole lot less stressful, and play was neither high tech nor costly, but mainly inexpensive and innovative.

It’s time to bring back those glorious days – of spending more time out of doors, leaping to new heights, and using hands to catch and throw, instead of swiping and tapping on screens! Many of these games are group games, and encourage children to think for their team, and not just for themselves. They encourage teamwork, cooperation, and gives them the opportunity to spur each other on. Children also get an outlet for expressing their bodies and energy in positive ways, and don’t just slump on the couch with an iPad in hand.

Let’s revisit a few old-school games that still ooze charm and character, and share these with our little ones. Here are a few of these old favourites that we hope will become new hits with our young ones!

1. Hopscotch

playing-hopscotch photo by vancity197

A popular playground game in which players toss a small object into a space in a drawn pattern of numbered squares outlined on the ground, and then hop or jump in the squares to retrieve the object. Children would use chalk to draw on the pavement, but these days, chalk is a rare commodity, and pavement drawing isn’t so well-received! Try making your own hopscotch squad in your home, using coloured tape to mark out the squares. Or if you live in landed property, let your kids draw with chalk in the yard area.

2. Five Stones

how to make 5 stones

Photo: The New Age Parents

Two or more players can play this game. Sometimes it’s every person for himself, sometimes there are two teams. The five ‘stones’ are essentially tiny bags of cloth containing rice, sand or saga seeds. These are thrown and caught according to a fixed set of patterns. There are eight stages to ‘complete’ the cycle to get ‘1 point’. The player or team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

3. Pepsi Cola 1, 2, 3!

This was often used as a ice-breaker game in camp groups. All join hands in a circle, number themselves, and shout “Pepsi Cola!” Then they shout “1, 2, 3!” as they jump three steps backwards as far as they can go, letting go of their hands as they jump. Taking turns, they shout out the number of another person, and try to step on that person’s foot in a single leap. Anyone who gets stepped on is out of the game, until only one person is left standing.

4. Zero point

The main feature of this game is the rope, made out of many elastic bands ingeniously strung together. At least three players are needed – two to hold each end of the rope, and one to jump on/over the rope in a series of four patterns. The game starts with the rope at ground level, and then with it raised higher and higher, until it is at the same level as your head. The rule of the game is that no part of the body should touch the rope, except for the soles of your feet – if you touch the rope, your turn is over.

If you need a refresher course, here’s a video to help you.

5. Goli (marbles)

Childhood games - Goli

Photo: The New Age Parents

This was a favourite recess game and was a hit with many school boys back in the 1980s. All you need is 2 or more people to start a game. Simply draw a circle in the sand, or you may use a string (as seen in the photo above). The aim of the game is to knock your opponent’s goli out of the circle. However, you must contribute your golis and place them in the circle. The last man standing will be the one with the most goli.

Other games you might find familiar…

6. Chaptek

Chapteh

Photo: Plaza Singapura

Throw the chapteh into the air and use the heel of the feet to keep it in the air. Game over once the chapteh touches the ground. You can either win by having the most number of kicks or by keeping the chapteh in the air for the longest about of time. No hands allowed.

7. Block Catching

hdb flats

Photo: Yew Kwang

8. Kuti Kuti

Childhood games in Singapore Kuti Kuti

Photo: The New Age Parents

Take turns and use one of your fingers to push the kuti kuti. You win when your kuti kuti piles on top of your opponent’s and you get to keep it. More than 2 players can play at any one time.
9. Eraser Game

old school childhood Eraser Games

Photo: Plaza Singapura

Take turns and use one of your fingers, normally the thumb, to flip the eraser. You win when your eraser piles on top of your opponent’s eraser and you get to keep it. More than 2 players can play at any one time.

How many of the above games you used to play when  you were a child?

By Dorothea Chow