Games Kids Played

Games / Activities from my Childhood

By Jeff Salter

I interpreted this topic to be about the games we played as kids, whether we enjoyed them back then, and if we’d still want to play them. Conversely, were there any games we hated?

Sports & Physical Activities

I was hardly ever on an organized team of any sport and the only organized sport in my small community (other than in / at school) was baseball, which I disliked because the ball was too hard. But I enjoyed nearly every other activity with a ball involved. [Note: at the time of my childhood, America had not yet imported soccer … but I would not have enjoyed it anyhow because I like to use my hands a lot.] Football and basketball were my favorites and I was pretty good at both, though I played mostly with friends and neighbors. Co-ed volleyball was a particular favorite!

I also loved running, jumping, climbing, swinging, swimming, boating, hiking, camping, shooting, biking, and skate-scootering.

Of all the physical activities I enjoyed, two stand out: Dodge Ball and Capture the Flag.

Dodge Ball got a bad rap somewhere along the line, probably because of a Ben Stiller movie a few years ago. I loved Dodge Ball and I was very good at it — I had speed, good eyes, great reflexes, and I was a strategic player. Often I was among the few left standing and several times I was the last guy on the court.

Capture The Flag requires a large number of kids, a lot of space, good organization and instruction, and supervision by an impartial referee (to prevent cheating). The concept, if you don’t know, is to break through enemy lines to capture the flag of the other team and return (with their flag) safely to your turf.

While you’re on enemy turf, any contact (i.e., a tag) by the enemy puts you out (or in jail); while you’re on your own turf, any contact with the enemy puts THEM out (or in jail). Rules varied somewhat, but once a player was out, they were usually jailed. Almost everybody else was going for the flag, so I often made it my quest to free my jailed comrades… which you did by racing through enemy territory (without being tagged) and then tagging the jailed comrades, who must make it back (on their own) to safe territory without being tagged again. Some didn’t … and were either re-jailed or called ‘out’.

As in Dodge Ball, I was very good at this activity because I was fast, with quick reflexes, and I employed good strategy.

Indoor games

As some of the Foxes have mentioned, I enjoyed many different board games. No particular favorites, but I less enjoyed the ones which relied solely on luck. You know, spin a dial or roll dice and you go where it says and do what results. I far preferred games which also involved strategy, planning, and even (in a few games) cunning. Stratego and Risk and Clue were among that later category.

I also liked games like Concentration, Password, and other activities which involved the mind.

I’ve always enjoyed card games. I have trouble remembering the rules these days (and even the overall goals, sometimes) but usually I can pick them up rather quickly after I see them in play. Of the card games, I much prefer the ones where you have a partner. It’s fun to learn how a partner plays and then play to that partner’s strengths and strategies.

Once I finally learned (basic) Dominoes, I’ve enjoyed playing it… though it’s been a good while since I have. As a kid I never knew there were rules.

Reading & Writing

Though it does not fit in to the category of games or play, I certainly spent a lot of my childhood reading… and, as I grew older — writing.


Oddly, for someone who has worked with words for most of my life, I do NOT enjoy Scrabble. And, despite its popularity, I don’t enjoy the TV game, Jeopardy.


What games did you enjoy as a kid? Hate as a kid? Still like (or dislike) today?




About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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24 Responses to Games Kids Played

  1. my obsession as a child was chess. 🙂


    • jeff7salter says:

      I piddled with chess and had a very basic grasp of the moves. But I had no idea of strategy or deliberateness — so every opening my opponent gave me, I took it. I played a very reactive game.


  2. jbrayweber says:

    Of course you liked co-ed volleyball.

    I enjoyed most outdoor games. Enjoyed them more at night (like Kick the Can). The challenge is exponentially higher. Like you Jeff, I was fast and crafty. The Board games I liked were Clue, Scrabble and Trouble, and I loved (and still do) playing Uno.

    Dislikes? Can’t think of any at the moment other than Monopoly. I hated how it took so long.

    Great post!


    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Jenn. Yeah, the games like Monopoly and Risk could sometimes consume several hours and that was definitely a downfall for me as well. At least partly because it was rare for all the players who sat down to start the game would still be there 4 hours later.
      Not familiar with “Trouble”. Is that like “Mousetrap”?


  3. I still love Concentration type games – I can flip cards over and over again! I like the new Monopoly express game – that’s much more my speed!


  4. Amy Mullen says:

    Kick the can? I lost half of a front tooth to that game. It was fun though. Overall, football was my favorite. I wish I could still play.


    • jeff7salter says:

      Amy, how did you get injured playing kick the can?
      I must not know the rules very well.
      I do recall a game with a stick and a can, but it was modeled after softball. You couldn’t hit the can as far as a softball, of course.


  5. Angie Schroeder says:

    Because I grew up in a house with three brothers (my sister is 10 years older than me so had no time for me) I had to learn how to play Risk. I love the game! For hours we would sit at the table in the kitchen, I did not get good at this game until I was in my 20s but I still enjoy it.
    We also played monopoly when we were inside and poker.
    Outside we played tag, baseball, football, wrestling, freeze tag, statues.I still enjoy these but my kids more like things like Blind Man’s Bluff so we tend to play that a lot.


    • jeff7salter says:

      Yes! I forgot about tag and games like Simon Says. I didn’t play them much, but when I did, I enjoyed them.
      I don’t recall how blind man’s bluff works.


      • Angie Schroeder says:

        One person is blindfolded while the rest run around that person. When the blindfolded person catches someone they have to guess who they caught (without anyone talking). It is a lot of fun. I actually learned it from some older books I read. My mom said they used to play it as kids. So I taught it to mine.
        Oh and red rover was always fun because you got to clothes line people


      • I forgot all about “Concentration”.I enjoyed it on TV. I find it hard to believe that you do not like Scrabble.When we had a major power-outage years ago, Joe and I played Scrabble every day/night by candlelight….and he is a hard fellow to get involved in a game, unless he is playing alone.
        Dodge ball! I would not have liked to be in school with you,Jeff! Easy for you to like, being the last guy on the court.I was one of the first out with a stinging ball to the face or legs…we girls had to wear dresses. (AT least tell me you never aimed for faces.)
        I ran into more than one wall trying to play Blind Man’s Bluff.


      • jeff7salter says:

        In my schools, the rule was if you hit anybody in the face (even if accidentally) you were out.


  6. jeff7salter says:

    I remember red rover. Saw a girl get her arm broken playing that.
    Blind man’s bluff sounds like a lot of fun if you played it co-ed.


    • Angie Schroeder says:

      Red rover could be harsh, I flipped over more than once in that game. Luckily nobody in our school never got seriously hurt playing that.


  7. pjharjo says:

    I’ve had my brushes with a lot of the toys/games mentioned. But this topic on a favorite game or “toy” was hard for me to write about bc I was all about horses when I was young, and so did not get involved with everything else too much. I never thought about my equine friends as toys or games so it did not register that I might write about them as my favorite “toys” from the past.

    I spent as much of my free time on my ponies, which graduated to horses as I grew, as I could. Pleasure riding with friends, rodeos, horse shows, and stuff like that. I belonged to a Barrel Racing Association when in high school. In my first lifetime I did not have time for anything except riding. 🙂 I miss my first lifetime. 😦


    • jeff7salter says:

      I had a good friend who raised, rode, and raced horses. Barrel racing was her specialty also. She had a wall cabinet full of trophies. Very sweet girl and still has horses today.


  8. Iris B says:

    Don’t like soccer? LOL (comes from this reader who’s eagerly waiting for the start of the world cup 😉 )
    I LOVE THIS SUMMARY: I also loved running, jumping, climbing, swinging, swimming, boating, hiking, camping, shooting, biking, and skate-scootering. …. yup, that sums up a great childhood.
    Had to ask the girls about dodge ball …. from what I understood, we played that as well and I loved it. And it made think of playing “what’s the time mr wolf”. Another popular one.
    Capture the flag sounds interesting, but probably wouldn’t have survived in our neighbourhood with all the rules … LOL


    • jeff7salter says:

      yeah, as a kid, I was very much out of doors. For one thing, we never had air conditioning, so the inside of the house was too hot during the day.
      Capture the Flag worked well during our Physical Education (i.e., Play time) class hour. Enough time to set up the teams, mark the boundaries, run through the rules, and still have enjoyable exercise.


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