One of the things we learned, as kids growing up, was we had to ‘entertain ourselves’ when playing outdoors. No technology in our time during the 1960s. We always found something to do when we lived on the cane farm in Millaroo, 70km inland of Ayr.
I regularly return to Townsville to see mum and dad, 75 and 85 respectively. Apart from our Sunday chat day, I like to catch up each school holidays. I know I’m not getting any younger, so I anticipate this applies to them also.
When visiting my parents, I’m also blessed with an entourage of nieces and nephews that descend on mum and dad’s place. A house full of kids at nonno and nonna’s house is the norm. What better way to encourage them to entertain themselves than being outside in the great outdoors. Here are four of their games, that kept them entertained for hours-at-a-time; in between water breaks and toilet stops.
To Work Out Who Is In
Everyone crouch in a circle, while one person chants ‘Dip, dip sky blue! Who’s in? Not you.’ While chanting they tap each person’s foot for each word; until there are two feet left. To change the tagger or the person in, use the ‘chant’ or just share the role. If a younger child is tagger, then change when they’re puffed from running or after a few minutes. Here are four games that they loved playing. Games can be modified provided everyone knows the rules before starting to play. These are the rules the girls played with:
- The girls start running away from the tagger or ‘person in’.
- If you are tagged, you stop, stand still and extend your arms like an octopus.
- While the octopus stands still, they try to tag you with arms waving, as you run past.
- Behind a designated line, is a safe zone – where you catch your breath, until the tagger says: ‘Go’. Then you have 3 seconds head start to run away.
- Once everyone becomes an octopus, the game restarts.
- The girls run away from the tagger.
- Once tagged you stand (for adults – much kinder to our knees) or bend your knees, with your arm bent and hand horizontal.
- The tagged person positions their ‘horizontal’ hand ready to be flushed; like a toilet.
- Once you have been flushed, you are free to run back into the game.
- The tagger sometimes tries to protect the tagged. Mix this up so the tagger has to chase someone to give someone a chance to ‘toilet flush’ the person tagged – otherwise the game is at a stale mate.
- When everyone is in the toilet flushing position, the game restarts.
Duck, Duck, Goose
- All sit in a wide circle.
- One person walks, jogs or runs in a clockwise (or anti-clockwise) direction tapping each person gently on the head or shoulder.
- As they tap each person, they say ‘duck, duck, duck, duck’. When they say ‘goose’ the tapped person gets up and chases you to tag you back.
- If the runner gets back to the vacated position, they are safe.
- If the runner gets tag, they sit in the middle.
- When everyone is in the middle, the game restarts.
Cops and Robbers
- When you are tagged you are put in jail.
- The other runners can free you by tagging you; so you can get out of jail.
- Once you are out of jail, the tagger has to wait 5 seconds to allow you time to escape.
- Game restarts when everyone is in jail.
Even the dog, Jasper – my parent’s maremma, enjoyed the kids’ commotion of laughter rippling across the side yard.
As I’m having a well-earned break, just like many other teachers, I have donned my aunty hat while I supervise the games. Therefore I am sitting back and relaxing while the kids run around exercising. And each time they come past they keep admiring my pedicured toenails with the bronze polish. I know, it’s the little things that kids find amusing. I’m sure they’ll be after me to do a toenail painting session shortly.