The games we used to play 108



View Profile

If you are like me, aghast at the hours of wasted youth, you are no doubt sick and tired of watching your grandchildren stare aimlessly at endless TV shows, a multitude of gadgets, handheld devices and gaming consoles…or worse still (despite having more toys than Hamley’s), slouching on the couch, moaning and groaning of boredom.

Some of this time is obviously useful for developing hand-eye coordination, encouraging an outlet for relaxation and online social comradeship. However, it can’t possibly be as useful or rewarding as time spent outside, physically socialising with friends, creating games, role-playing and all manner of other live organic play.


When we cast our minds back to our own childhood, it is so easy to remember the games we use to play. Our memories are not cluttered by technology, too many toys or talk of being hungry – code for ‘I’m bored’.Old Glass Marbles

There was hours of fun to be had in a stick, a tin can or a piece of rope. A bag of marbles, a ball, pick up sticks, jacks, tiddlywinks, a bit of chalk, night time a torch and 6 to 10 friends…hell, we could even make a game out of a bit of dog poo. We climbed trees like chimpanzees; rode our bikes like Evil Knievel; we caught more spiders, flies, bees and bugs than a mozzie zapper on a warm humid summer’s night.


We could equally do many of these things as a group or if required, by ourselves. Either way we were happy. We found things to do that kept us interested, kept us active, kept us health – despite the candy and soft drink – which we bought by ourselves with our own money that we earned from doing chores or other bits of entrepreneurial genius (or dastardly penny pinching genius).


Games of backyard cricket were epic, lasting longer than a 5-day test match. My father’s garden would be shredded by the end of the holidays. Cubby houses would be hacked together from bits of wood, aluminium and probably asbestos. We’d make billycarts with offcuts of timber, our sister’s skipping rope, wheels from the lawn mover and extractors from the rusty car from next door. It didn’t need a Standards Australia approved design…nor parental supervision, a helmet or a brake, well maybe it did need a brake but you could always throw on your shoes if need be.

The Hills Hoist was a family favourite. They certainly don’t make them like they use to!


It’s a shame that we can’t or don’t feel safe sending our grandkids down to the local creek (unsupervised) to catch guppies and yabbies like we use to. They can’t or don’t wander through the neighbourhood, collecting friends along the way like we use to. Their sense of community is so restricted. Nowadays it is confined to their home, school, and footy club or dance hall. When I was a kid, our sense of community had a circumference of at least 10km. We’d ride where we wanted. We’d walk along the creek until it punched out into the river. We’d jump on the bus and take ourselves to the movies. We’d invite ourselves over to our friend’s house, for a play, for a sleepover, for dinner…and that was always ok. Mum knew, if we wanted to be fed, that we’d be back by dark.

Girls jumping over the rope with friends

The one and only handheld device in the house was the telephone – which was fixed to the wall – and was only mobile to a radius of 1.5m (the length of cord attached). We actually knew how to talk to one each other…there were no texts, emoji’s or Skype. Face Time meant a whole different thing!

If you ask the kids of today, they will tell you they’re happy. If you tell them stories of what you got up to as a kid, they look at you with absolute amazement, astonishment and adoration…whilst questioning why they don’t get to do these things. Some they can, others they can’t or not at least in the same spirit as we did.


What type of games did you play as a kid? Do you teach these to your grandkids today?

Tobe Frank

Tobe Frank is a recently retired 62 year old gentleman with many views. He has grand ambitions for his retirement he just isn't sure what they are yet and is constantly looking around to find them. Tobe shares his views on Starts at Sixty regularly as one of our columnists.

  1. My grandchildren are very active; all play outside, the eldest plays sports: cricket, soccer and tennis. While all are very tech savvy as is required in this modern world, they are into all sorts of games and mischief, as are all their little mates.

  2. Much fitter, healthier children. So many behavior problems, bad attitude was never tolerated. Discipline is a dirty word now. At least we knew how far to take it. Boundries. D

  3. My friends, siblings and I spent hours every day in our ‘camp’. We built it just over my back fence in Mary Moo Cows field in Kent, England. It was a natural space in bushes which made a perfect large protected area, with just a few tweaks and materials we could gather for the job. We took old crockery and bits and pieces for picnics or snacks and imaginations ran riot. It was a sad day when they sold Mary and her field so that the developers could build a new estate.

  4. Well, if people miss the good old days then I challenge you to give up all your modern conveniences and go back to living that way. Bet you won’t do it……

    1 REPLY
    • Yes, Ruth, the ‘good old days’ for me were days of constant drudgery and going without even things others considered basics. Never again, thank you.

  5. We used to go tadpoling or getting silk worms from the mulberry tree…. kids wouldn’t know how to amuse themselves these days. … way too many computer games!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *