Couponing for the Rest of Us

Top 10 Neighborhood Games to Teach Your Kids: 4 Square, Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, More!

Remember all the great neighborhood games you used to play when you were a kid? 

I remember yelling “Red rover, Red rover”, slamming the ball into my brother’s 4-Square square,  sneaking around the corner of the house during hide & seek to head for base….  wow – there are so many happy memories that surface when I think of summertime and neighborhood games!

Every night after dinner, my brother & I would run down the street knocking on doors, getting kids together for flashlight tag or kickball.  And every night we would play until parents started flickering their porch lights for their kids to come home.  While those days are just memories – you can make new memories with your own kids using the same tried-and-true neighborhood games!

This summer, break out of the boredom cycle by teaching your kids how to play some of the great old games we grew up with.  Here are my Top 10 Neighborhood Games:  *NOTE: These are not full instructions, just what I can remember to help jog your memory :)

  1. Four Square

    Players take turns bouncing the ball into each other’s squares – starting with the “King” serving the ball (the king is in square 4).  The ball must bounce 1 time in someone else’s square before they hit it – and may not hit a line or go out of the lines.  If you miss hitting it or hit it out of bounds, you go back to square one (or the end of the line waiting their turn behind square 1) (There are lots of extra rules to 4-Square, check them out here)

  2. Freeze Tag

    Choose one person to be”It” and he/she chases the others until he tags them.  If tagged, the player freezes in one spot until another team member runs by and tags him – thereby unfreezing him to run again.  (We used to play another version where you have to crawl through the frozen player’s legs to unfreeze them – we called it Eiffel Tower tag or Chinese Tag)

  3. Hide & Seek

    Choose one person to be “It” and he counts (with eyes closed) while everyone else hides.  With a shout of “Ready or not, here I come!” they open their eyes and look for the hidden players.  The first person to get found is then “it” and (Optional!  This is just what we used to do :) ) yells “Olly-olly-oskin-free!” which announces that everyone else can come out.
  4. Red Rover, Red Rover

    Two opposing teams form lines facing one another, holding arms within their line to make a tight chain.  They chant “Red Rover Red Rover, we dare (someone from the opposite team) over!”  and the called member of the opposing team makes a run at their chain, trying to break through it.  If they succeed, they take a hostage back to join their team.  If they fail, they join the team.
  5. Sardines in a Can

    Basically Hide & Seek backwards.  There is only 1 hider, and everyone else is “It”.  When one of the “It” players finds the hidden sardine, he quietly hides with him.  This goes on until only one person has not found all the “sardines” packed into the same hiding place.

  6. Kick the Can

    Much like hide n seek but the “Base” is the can.  Kick it to be safe from the chaser!  Read more HERE

  7. Red Light, Green Light

    One person is the caller (or cop) and the other players stand behind a line facing him.  The cop yells “green light” and the players rush to reach him first.  When the cop yells “Red Light” they must freeze.  The first person to reach the cop wins.

  8. Mother May I?

    Much like “Red Light Green Light” – but the “Mother” calls out instructions to each player individually.  (i.e. Take 4 scissor steps!)  If the player forgets to ask “Mother May I?”, he must go back to the starting line.
  9. Simon Says…

    Much like “Mother May I” and “Red Light Green Light” – Simon calls out instructions to the entire group of players at the starting line.  (i.e. Simon Says – take 4 Jumps Forward!)  They advance towards him, but he then tries to occasionally trick them by calling out an order without begining it with “Simon Says…”  If they still move, they’re back at start.  (We always taunted them by yelling “Simon didn’t sa-ay!”)
  10. Capture the Flag

    This game is a little complicated in my mind – I must’ve been smaller when we played at Girl Scouts – but there’s a great write-up HERE.



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