Let's all get nostalgic for a moment and remember all those old-fashioned games we used to play as kids. Those games stood the test of time long before we played them and now it's our children's turn to enjoy some good old retro fun and games!
You can find lots of traditional, centuries-old DIY games like Tapatan or Len Choa here on the blog. For this resource of screen-free, old-school games I focused on games and activities that kids can play by themselves (as well as with others), so you don't need to gather together for a play date, or have a large family in order to enjoy them.
See also: Giant list of indoor activities for kids
Each old-school activity on the list is accompanied by a how-to video so kids can see the game/activity in action. And, hey, if kids want more screen-time, they might as well have it in a way that is productive: learning a new skill!
Note: this post contains affiliate links
Indoor Old-Fashioned Games
Most of these indoor old-fashioned games can be played solo even though a few are designed for two or more people. Of course, being inside is not a requirement, but the games don't require a lot of physical activity or space, making them perfect for those stuck-inside days.
String and Bead Puzzle
This is really fun brain teaser and an excellent time filler. Kids can also race side by side to see who can complete the old-school puzzle first! I also have written instructions for the string and bead puzzle here.
- One bead
Watch the video to see how it's done!
Tweens and teens will quickly become addicted to yo-yo! The best part about learning how to yo-yo (is yo-yo a verb? It is now!) is how engaged the brain is during the process of mastering tricks.
Watching others can be immensely helpful when starting out with a you-you. I love the YoTricks YouTube channel.
- Yo-yo, like this one for beginners
House of Cards
The game here is really player vs. cards. Who will win? Will the human remain in control, or will the cards refuse to cooperate? Trying to build a house of cards is a rite of passage, not to mention a feat of patience!
- One deck of cards (or more, if you dare)
- A steady hand
Jacks is meant to be played with 2 players, but kids can practice on their own if they find themselves bored and without a partner.
- Set of jacks and rubber ball like this vintage-y one
- Fast reflexes
You may think marbles is an old fashioned outdoor game, but these kids demonstrate how to play indoors. There are different versions of the game. Your kids could even make up their own rules! Like the game of jacks, kids can practice their marble-shooting skills solo.
- Set of 40 marbles
- String (in the version below)
- A good eye
I adored string games when I was a kid! There are a ton of these old-fashioned finger string games like Cat's Cradle. MomsMinivan has an entire playlist of how to make different ones.
Here's a video for how to make Jacob's Ladder.
Outdoor Old-Fashioned Games
Unlike tag games and other playground games, these old-fashioned outdoor games can all be enjoyed by one person if need be.
Single Person Jump Rope Tricks
Did you know there are lots of jump rope tricks that a lone jumper can do? That's right! Old-fashioned fun with a jump rope is not limited to Double-Dutch!
This is not the most exciting video, but she demonstrates the jump rope tricks well.
Children of the 1980s and 1990s! This is your thing! You remember the Skip-it, right? Well, this video shows you how to make your own, or you can head over to Babble Dabble Do for the written instructions.
Tin Can Stilts
Tin can stilts (aka "monster stompers") are a must. Sure you can buy a plastic version of can stilts, but it's so much more fun and better for the environment to make your own. Like Skip-it, this old-fashioned activity is great for coordination and gross motor skills.
Little known fact: you can also make these from sturdy quart-sized yogurt containers.
- 2 tin cans
- Sturdy twine or rope
- Adult supervision
Chances are, your kids are well-versed in hopscotch. But what about mixing up the rules to add some variety and excitement? This video has some truly terrible camera work but around the 2 minute mark the kids explain several hopscotch variations.
- Sidewalk chalk
- A rock