School Games We Once Played

Wasn’t school more fun when the sound of the bell had us dashing outdoors to pick the best sides for kho-kho? Relive the good old days with these popular games and draw in your kids for a good time!

By Team ParentCircle  • 13 min read

School Games We Once Played

Taking a trip down memory lane, a smile always pops up on our face when we fondly remember our school days. Days of non-stop chattering, chanting lessons, and strict teachers! The games we played during those years brought joy that no device could bring today. Step out with your kids and ‘reconnect’ with them and yourself as we teleport you to school! Off you go!

Indoor Games at School

Yes, we confess! Most of these indoor school games were played in the back benches when the teacher was too focused on the blackboard writing or during library hour. School time games are passed down from generations, but still has not lost its touch. These games can still bring on the fun element in any dull moments, be it travelling by a car, inside your home on a rainy day or waiting for doctor’s appointment. Check out the list of Indoor Games from our childhood days spent in the corridors of schools!

Name Place Animal Thing: This delightful game can be played anywhere, anytime – be it on a long train ride, a rainy day or a family picnic. A letter from the alphabet is called out and the players need to come up with – a name, a place, an animal and a thing, all beginning with that letter. They jot it down in their notebooks under the respective columns. Each entry gets 10 points. If entries are similar, all those who have similar entries get 5 points. After several rounds, the points are added and the one with the highest score wins. It’s not just a fun game, but also a lovely way to brush up on proper and common nouns and a challenge especially when you get tricky letters like ‘Q’ and ‘X’!

Four Cups/paper fortune teller: “Which colour do you want?” – remember this? To play this, a bit of origami is involved (to turn a sheet of paper into four cups). The origami craft in itself would be a fun activity to do together with your child. Once you have made it, parts of the cups are labelled with different colours and numbers. On the inside are eight flaps, each one concealing a silly message meant to be the fortune of a player – “You will become a superstar one day” or “You will turn into a goat”.

If you didn’t quite get how to play the game, follow the instructions in this YouTube video:

Dots and boxes: A popular pen and paper game, Dots and boxes is absolutely simple to play! In this two-player game, rows and columns of dots are made on a plain sheet of paper. How many rows and columns you want depends on how long you want to play. Each player takes a turn and joins two dots by either making a vertical or a horizontal line. The aim of the game is to make a closed shape – a square or a box. The objective is to conquer ‘land’ by closing the squares. The person with the maximum number of ‘claimed’ squares wins. It involves a bit of strategy and just a pen and a paper.

Pro tip: carry a blank notebook while travelling with your child and play Dots and Boxes and Four Cups while on the go to break the boredom!

Tic Tac Toe: In the days of Tik Tok, a humble Tic Tac Toe holds its own unique place. Also known as ‘Noughts and Crosses’, this famous game needs just a paper and a pencil. It is a two-player game where you need to get three noughts or crosses in a row on a three-by-three grid. Almost everyone knows how to play this addictive game. Are instructions even necessary?!

Hangman: Can your child spell? If yes, then try this one! The objective of this word game is to guess the secret word before a certain hand-drawn ‘character’ is hung. A great way to learn spellings and new words, and a fun game to keep the family engrossed.

For a refresher course on how to play Hangman check out this little video: 

Raja Rani Kalla/Chor Police: This four-player game involves figuring out who the ‘chor’(thief) is. Chits are made with Raja, Rani, Chor and Police written on them. Each character is assigned some points. Then the chits are folded and tossed. Each player picks up a chit. The person who has picked up the police chit has to guess who the thief is. If the police catches the thief, he gets rewarded with a certain number of points, else the thief gets the points. Several rounds are played. The player to accrue the maximum number of points is the winner.

For a detailed video on how to play the game, watch this video: 

Book Cricket: This ingenious way of turning a field sport into an indoor game shows just how much cricket is loved in India. Any book with numbered pages will do. Players take turns to close and open a book. The last digit of the page number on the right side of the page is considered as the ‘runs score’. For instance, if the book opens to page 231, then 1 is taken as the number of runs. If it is page 256, then 6 is the score and so on. But if you open page 80, then 0 is considered out.

Want to learn more? Check this out to learn all the rules of book cricket: 

Clapping Games with a Song: School time was all about children forming circles and clapping to rhythmic sing-songs such as, ‘Miss Marie Mac Mac Mac…Her dress was black black black’ or ‘Ice cream Soda Sugar on the Top, Tell me the Names of Ice Cream Shops…’ These and other songs were common sounds resonating in schools of yesteryears. Simple times…Bring back the rhythm.

Ring around the Roses: Holding hands, singing a song and all falling down. Perfect for tiny tots – they will love it if you join them too! Ring Around the Roses, A Pocket Full of Posies, A-tishoo, A-tishoo, We all fall down! So, get ready to go around in circles a zillion times, every time your toddler asks you to! A great way to bond, laugh and be merry.

Outdoor Games at School

These outdoor games were simple and fun and were usually played during lunch breaks or after school hours in the playgrounds or porches.

Pro tip: On a lazy weekend or a holiday, get the whole family outdoors and try one of these! The more the merrier!

Chain: A variation of ‘tag’, this game was a favourite among kids. “We used to play it at home and school, and to get a twist we used to play variations such as ‘bandhi chain,’ and ‘khuli chain’. In bandhi chain the chaser and the players tagged by the chaser had to join hands to form a chain and catch the remaining players. Whereas, in khuli chain, the players caught by the chaser didn’t have to join hands to form a human chain. They could catch anyone. This game is both interesting and challenging. Right now, I’m transported back to my childhood days when we used to play this game till dusk arrived,” recalls Aman Arora, an accounting professional from Raipur.

Lock and key: This is a fun game. The chaser starts chasing the rest of the players. When he manages to catch one, he taps that player on the head and shouts ‘lock!’ The ‘locked’ player will remain stationary in one position till the other players manage to reach him, tap him and shout ‘key’. Then the chaser continues to chase the other players and tries to lock them all. This is a good game to get the kids all breathless and sweaty!

Oranges and Lemons: Also called by other names such as Poshampa, this simple playground game involves two children locking hands and holding them in the air to form an arch. The kids run under the arch, while a song is being sung – like Oranges and Lemon sold for a penny, all the schoolgirls, all so many. The grass is green, and the rose is red, remember me when I’m dead dead dead (a bit morbid I guess). Or the other song that goes thus, “London bridge is falling down, falling down.” And then, the human arch collapses when the song ends, and one kid gets ‘caught’ in the arch and is out of the game. The game resumes till only one child is left.

Dog and the Bone: This team game is bound to bring back fond memories for many of you. "We had a Sunday ritual of playing the dog and the bone. During that one hour, all our focus would be on that one piece of cloth for which both teams would fight. The losing team would treat the winning team with orange ice candies –– the victory treat. The orange candies still have a special ‘dog and the bone’ impact on me. Kids these days will neither understand the fervour behind that white cloth nor the genuine smiles behind the orange candies," shares Manasi Tiwari, storyteller and lawyer.

Hopscotch: This game is not unique to India but is a common favourite – it is called Aeroplane, Kith Kith, Nondi and Kunta Pille in some parts. It involves throwing a small flat stone or a similar object on a numbered square and then hopping and progressing through all the numbers. Irresistible.

Lemon and spoon race: This is extremely easy to play and good fun. With a spoon in your mouth and balancing a lemon upon it, you must race to the finishing line without dropping the lemon. First one to reach, wins! Get, set, go!

Hide and seek: A big favourite among children of all ages, here, one player closes her eyes for a brief period (often counting to 100) while the other players hide. The seeker then opens his eyes and tries to find the hiders; the first one found is the next seeker, and the last one to be found, is the winner of the round.

Parent Speak:

“The best part about games like book cricket, dots, police and killer, four cups, hangman, and Name Place Animal Thing, was the sheer creativity and simplicity. All you needed was a piece of paper, a book and a pencil. We used to play these games during spare moments we got – lunch break, free period, library hour and sometimes even when class was going on, right under the teacher’s nose! Good times…” - Arshia Zafrulla, mother of two, recalling her school days.

Spend some quality time with your family and include these games to take the fun quotient a notch higher. This is what we say 'Disconnect2Reconnect'. Go on, relive your childhood memories with your children with these fun school games and make new memories.

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Written by Team ParentCircle on 30 October 2019.

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