Kickin’ it old school – favourite schoolyard games

favourite schoolyard games - Gift Grapevine

It seems everything old is new again in the schoolyard as old fashioned games make a resurgence.

I have fond memories of playing my favourite schoolyard games at recess and lunch. Back then, we had seasons – marble season, elastics season, four square season… I had no idea who decided when each season began but marbles would appear one lunch and then, the very next day, everyone was in on the action. Each season ended when the games suddenly stopped or the school decided to ban the game. Not to worry – there was always another game to move on to!

I love the idea of kids being kids, engaging in play, involving others, jumping around, learning to win and lose, and having fun – apart from eating, isn’t that what recess and lunch should be about? Here’s 5 of my favourite schoolyard games which I’m pleased to see are standing the test of time.


favourite schoolyard games - elastics


England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Inside, Outside, Puppy Dogs Tails! We always started off with standard levels (ankles, kneesies, bumsies) and you became an elastics legend when you could make it to the more advanced levels of hipsies, waisties and pitsies!

I recently introduced Miss T to elastics. She’s learnt some old school chants and moves and even took hers to school to show for news. With cold and wet weather on the way, I foresee many elastics sessions in the school undercover area this winter.

favourite schoolyard games - Smiggle elastics  favourite schoolyard games - rainbow elastics

Smiggle elastics are affordable, bright and fun and come with jump patterns and rhymes.

Another fun find, Daju Rainbow Elastics also come with a playing guide and game variations information, plus some recommended jumping songs.



I taught Mr TT how to play marbles last month and I think I’ve created a monster. He’s turning into a marble shark and robbing me of my marble collection. Before I know it, he’ll win all of my favourite ‘spacies’.favourite schoolyard games - traditional marble set

This traditional marble set from Kmart contains 230 marbles in a variety of colours, sizes and patterns. Chuck them into a small drawstring material bag and you’re ready to play!



My coordination when it came to yo-yos was poor. I longed to ‘walk the dog’ and ‘rock the cradle’ but all I could muster up was a standard ‘up and down’ and occasional ‘around the world’. What I lacked in yo-yo coordination, I made up for in enthusiasm and managed to survive my yo-yo years without taking anyone’s eye out.

I wish I kept my Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta yo-yos of the 1980s although I’m not sure if my tornadoes would appreciate the retro cool factor of them now. Miss T would be more interested in the light up Smiggle ones or the variety of designs from Duncan like the Pro Yo, Butterfly or Imperial.

favourite schoolyard games - Smiggle light up yo-yo

favourite schoolyard games - Duncan Pro Yofavourite schoolyard games - Duncan Butterfly favourite schoolyard games - Duncan Imperial


Four Square and Handball

How I loved playing four square! The whole class would line up to play and, for a bunch of primary school kids, things got seriously competitive. Little did we realise how great these games were for our hand-eye coordination.


favourite schoolyard games - Tiger Tribe Play Balls

These Play Balls from Aussie brand Tiger Tribe are beautifully illustrated and the balls are made from durable rubber with a great texture to make them easier to catch and grip.

And let’s not forget handball, a game that’s just as popular in the quadrangle at school today. Kmart sell rubber bounce balls in a variety of fun designs and, at only $2 each, they make a great stocking stuffer, small gift or party bag item.

favourite schoolyard games - bounce balls


Jump Rope For Heart was a huge fundraising activity at my primary school in the 1980s and each year this event came around, the whole school got skipping fever.

My tornadoes and their friends love to skip – how could you not when skipping ropes come in cute designs like these Seedling Fox and Ice Cream ones? I never remember my skipping rope being this adorable!


favourite schoolyard games - Seedling fox skipping rope  favourite schoolyard games - Seedling ice cream skipping rope


Let’s not forget the games that require no equipment except your own coordination (or lack thereof), imagination and perhaps some chalk and a small rock. Think hopscotch, hand clapping, British Bulldogs, Duck Duck Goose and What’s the Time Mr Wolf.

When it comes to schoolyard games, there’s lots of fun to be had and memories to be made. I’ll leave the stories of kiss chasey for another time…

Which schoolyard games were your favourites?

Which games are popular at recess and lunchtimes today?

Some of these suggestions feature affiliate links. You won’t pay any more however I will receive a small commission which goes towards the running of this blog. As always, every item I feature on Gift Grapevine is something I love and would love to give!


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