#69 Games you made up when you were a kid

Let’s turn off the TV, put away the board games, and toss the deck of cards in the trash.

Yes, it’s time to play all the made up games you played as a kid. Let’s chat about some of the greatest:

• Erupting volcano (also known as Snake Pit or Shark Tank). Here’s where you pretend the floor is covered in molten lava and you have to jump across the furniture without falling in. Sweatsocks on slippery coffee tables, ottomans with wheels, and top-heavy bookcases can be dangerous. House rules dictate whether riding the Golden Retriever across the room is allowed. Either way, I’m pretty sure you can use a blanket as a life raft to get to dinner.

Kitchen Rock Band. Grab all the pots and pans you can find, steal a handful of wooden spoons, and set up your kit on the cold linoleum floor. Now most makeshift kids bands are all drums – or percussive ensembles, if you will – so bonus points are awarded for anybody bringing in new instruments. Tip: Rubber bands over empty tissue boxes add a banjo section.

Indoor baseball. Never popular with the parents this is where you simply swing a mini baseball bat at a tennis ball in the front hallway. Feel free to set up a GI Joe and Cabbage Patch Kid stadium seating area, create bases around the house, and keep playing until something shatters.

Cardboard roll swordfights. Remember those long and thin cardboard rolls left over when mom finished wrapping the Christmas presents? Those were perfect for trumpeting announcements around the house, practicing robot voices, or using as pirate telescopes. After that they made for great lightsaber duels, Robin Hood swordfights, or gentle beating sticks. Finally, after a giant whack to your brother’s forehead caused them to spiral apart it was time for some nun chucks battles. Everybody wins.

Any game involving leftover cardboard. Yeah, speaking of leftover cardboard, the holy grail of made up childhood games was when your parents got something delivered in a giant cardboard box. A new fridge or oven could meant months of fun inside a new basement stronghold.

Store. Here’s where you empty out your kitchen pantry, put everything on the floor, and sell it back to your parents.

Yes, made up games you played as a kid let creativity roam wild to the outer edges of our brains. Rules are invented and changed, action takes over the living room, and big-eyed fun, screaming smiles, and sweaty foreheads crash together in a great big bang on Saturday afternoon.


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86 thoughts on “#69 Games you made up when you were a kid

  1. Oh man, these were AMAZING. A few weeks ago a friend and I were choreographing a sword fight for our Peter Pan adaptation of Richard III, and it quickly devolved into the most amazing wrapping-paper tube fight I’ve had in years. It’s amazing how epic they can become when you actually know some moves…

    1. Love that you included the “store” I was only telling my friends last week that this was my favorite game when I was a kid!

  2. My parents had bought a bulk package of paper towels, so naturally my sisters and I set them up as a bowling alley with a soccer ball. Oh, and we had mega hide and seek, where the “it” person had to follow a chain of clues hidden around the house that would eventually lead you to the hiding spot. It was a very advanced game.

    1. I used to do something similar with my brother but we would hide an object and leave clues for the other person to find it. I loved it! Honestly, I still love it…

  3. My favourite was one my brothers and I used to play on long car rides, strapped into our seat: “Prove the Other Isn’t Dead”. Taking turns being the dead person, we had to prove that the person, who would try to stay as motionless as possible, was in fact alive, by eliciting a smile, a laugh, and a (significant) movement, all while not moving from our own seat… great times

      1. i do that alot but i walk along the top untill it falls backward. the person who is on it when it falls is out. it go’s on untill one person is left standing.

  4. I loved when my parents got a new fridge. My brother and I used the cardboard box in tandem as a hybrid treadmill/hamster wheel on the floor. Super epic.

  5. We liked to pretend that our parents were monsters and they weren’t allowed to see us or we would die. The fact that they weren’t in on this game made it even better when we keeled over on the floor doubling with mocked pain. The best deaths got bonus points (obviously)

  6. I laughed out loud at Store…did it exactly as described! Hey, I fattened up my piggy bank that way. :) Cardboard was soooo terrific! Giant boxes, tubes, etc. were full of possibility.

  7. Sea Monster in the back yard. Cherry tree was the underwater store. Pear tree was the monsters home. The porch was the ship and whomever in the neighborhood really didn’t feel like playing was the boat captain. It was always the same game. Someone would swim off the boat to the store and the sea monster would try and catch them. If they got caught someone from the ship had to try and rescue them. The whole neighborhood would get involved and we played this for years. Never got old.

  8. Reblogged this on Lilywhitewash's Blog and commented:
    Omg, weird and completely freakin cool. My 8 year old just came from outside playing with her friends to check in. I asked what they were playing and she said Lava. So I asked what that was and she said they pretend the ground is covered in lava and the have to do like an obsticle course without touching the ground or they will get burned up by the lava. So they traverse our communities playground equipment without touching the ground.
    It reminded me of a very similar to a game I used to play as a child in my livingroom at home. I would throw all of the couch cushions and pillows on the floor and jump from pillow to pillow to cushion to couch and back and forth around and around. I would pretend that they where little islands and the floor was shark infested water. If my feet touched the floor than I would be the instant victim of JAWS. Lol, awesome memory.
    The crazy part is, as soon as she explained her game then set off back to play outside with her friends I went back to reading and skimming articles of the blogs I follow. The first one I seen was this one from 1000 awesome things. OMG, wild! I love when this kinda odd coincidence happens. What a cool feeling. Anywho, I figured I would reblog their post. Enjoy

  9. The game we were totally the first inventors of, EVER… “I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band!” And, nothing says, “I wanna hold your hand”, “I’m a believer”, and “I think I love you” better than a vacuum wand, hair brush and wooden spoons on tupperware drums in front of a picture window stage! Good times! REALLY some of THE BEST!

    1. Yes! The whole neighborhood was in our band and we usually sang something from the Monkees or The Partridge Family. Hours were spent looking for things that could be used as guitars, tambourines, keyboards, etc.

            1. Now that was FUN!
              I do believe we have ourselves “The triple A band!” And you are all capital A- Awesome:)

  10. I LOVE the photo of boys playing ball in front of China cabinet!
    A daycare I attended had a poster on the wall which read- “Perhaps imagination is intelligence at play.”
    So kids, go make up a game today…just maybe not in front of the China cabinet:)

  11. My friends and I had a few classics.
    Sledboarding: Using a sled like it’s a snowboard (not for steep or particularly slippery slopes). The ditch made an excellent training slope, especially before we were allowed to go to the school field, which had a great big hill with trees around it.
    Space Training: Someone would lie in our little plastic wagon and the rest of us would push them into the aforementioned big cardboard box, knocking over mini skittles on the way. Then we graded each other on things like posture, number of skittles knocked over, keeping our eyes open, and not screaming. What exactly we thought that had to do with space travel is beyond me…
    Sitting on the Slide: Exactly what it sounds like. We would all sit, one above the other, on the slide in their backyard swingset. I honestly can’t remember why, but we used to do it all the time.

    And you know what, I would happily play all those again today.

  12. The swingset was the door into the other universe (which was probably heavily inspired by Labyrinth). Clothes pegs were magic, colour-coded keys by which to complete specified tasks to get back into the correct universe.

    You mean kids don’t do this kind of stuff now? Sucks to be them.

  13. Four words that make a mother cringe while trying to relax in a tiny hotel room:


    Good times, good times. (…For us, obviously. Not so much for Mum.)

  14. Ah, such great times. The floor is lava and mini bat baseball were classics. I would also include indoor “knee” football. You could only “run” on your knees. This was usually played when we couldn’t go outside for some reason. There was also “flash picture” tag. Take an old polaroid camera, and turn out all the lights, except for one room. If you think you’ve found someone, you take a picture with the flash on, and go to the light room to see if you’re right. If so, the “flashed” person is out. Last man standing wins.

    1. That sounds like an awesome (albeit expensive!) game! :)

      We always used to play dark tag … one room, absolutely NO lights, lots of flailing and crashed items. Plenty of bruises, too, but it was so fun.

  15. I LOVE THIS.

    Every single day of my childhood (barring vacations or extreme illnesses), my sister and I would play outside (or inside, but ONLY if the weather was completely unacceptable for outdoor play) with our next door neighbors. We had tons of toys, but most the time, we didn’t even need them. The slide and gas meter were our McDonald’s drive thru (serving, of course, leaf salad with acorns as the main course). The fort in their yard was a castle, house, hospital, and airplane. Our driveway was a canvas for chalk houses and rollerblading paths. We lived on a dead-end street, too, which meant the one-car-every-couple-hours traffic flow allowed the street (and sometimes even neighbors’ yards!) to become completely fair game for our made-up activities. You know, like for a rousing round of Across the Street Tennis Keep Away. Stuff like that. :)

    On those rare times we did play in someone’s basement, we had our go-to basics for inventing awesome games. Almost always, Waffle Blocks, that Little Tykes red and yellow car that everyone had, large cardboard (good call, that was my favorite one!), and bean bag chairs were somehow involved.

  16. I guess I am too old to remember all the games we played.
    Most were made up as we really did not have so many ‘toys’
    All the chairs in the house could be laid on their sides and make a great …… well anything, to explore especially if you covered them with blankets.
    Our children had a large cardboard box in the corner of our living room for most of their childhood with window and door cutouts and spent lots of time with that. It worked as a toy box too.
    Grandchildren seem to have mountains of plastic toys and they still like to run outdoors when they visit us with lots of imaginary games.
    Childhood is a great place to use the imagination.
    Too bad we all seen to give that up.

  17. Oh, man…we played so many games. Ok.. this might sound silly, but one game we played was about a robber breaking in our house. We hid under our beds, pretended that we saw the bad guy. Every once in a while, one of my brothers would try to fight this invisable guy.
    Another game… had no name… we got 4 pillows, there was 3 of us, and we would only walk on the pillows. We’d lay them in a line and step on one. The last person in line would pick up the the 4th pillow and pass it up. The first person in line would lay it down in front of them and we’d all move up a pillow. We’d do this for hours.
    One game, my uncle made up. It was called Victor. Yeah… Victor. Victor was another invisable bad guy. We got out our pretend guns and my uncle would tell us where to shoot.
    I know there was way more, but that’s all I can remember right now. Wow… flashbacks….

  18. In reference to the Big Bang! (Although not quite so flashy, upside down chairs, as Bill said, and slides, as Jenn said; the highest branch on the tallest tree, we said, were OUR time machines!)

    *and to make games up with, best imaginary friend EVER, “Drop Dead Fred!”

  19. Ahahaha so true! I played indoor baseball with my sister once with oranges. It made some juicy stains on the wall that might still be there….

  20. Aw, my friends and I once found a pair of crutches that were much too high for us and honestly spent the whole day putting them under our arms and getting extreme air as we launched down my driveway.

  21. Lol! A lot of the games I used to play with my sisters and friends have already been mentioned, pretty neat that we all came up with the same games (pretty much).
    There was one we called ‘The Indiana Jones game’; One person would stand at the end of the driveway, while the other two would stand at the open garage door. On go someone would pull the garage door down (which was quite heavy), while the person at the end of the driveway has to try and get under the door before it hits the ground (or you, cause once it was pulled down we couldn’t really stop it ).
    There was another one we made up to make cleaning up go faster. We had this Barbie car and the ‘it’ person would roll it at people and if it hit you in the ankles or feet then you became the ‘it’ person, all the while trying to tidy the place (usually after playing house, which we tended to take up the entire basement no matter who’s house it was). It always seemed to escalate to a flying car instead of staying on the ground.
    Then there was the one,(usually played in the summer) where the play structure was ‘on fire’ and we were the flames, and the ‘firefighter’ would spray us with the hose, being a flame, you were doused when you couldn’t breathe or see anymore from the water or you got too cold.
    We had so much play food that we would have a play-food war. Obviously, we took out the hard things, like bottles (my sister has a scar from being hit on the forehead with a bottle) or things that just didn’t fly well, like lettuce. Cupcakes were great as was sliced meat or a hamburger patty ‘cause you could throw them like a Frisbee.
    Night time baseball – pretty much how it sounds, but without lights.
    Finding hard clumps of sand or dirt (sometimes unopened pinecones) and throwing them from the play structure as if they were grenade as the people on the ground were storming your fortress. (the people on the ground were part of the game too, willingly. They weren’t just random people :p).
    Or we’d pile six of us in a little red wagon, with someone pushing from behind and another pulling from the front, until we clipped the edge of the driveway on our decent unable to steer, and fell out as a ball into the ditch. And then someone would cry because they scraped their knee on the driveway or the culvert, or their fingers got stepped on or run over, and/or they were all wet and muddy now because the ditch had water in it, or someone landing in dog poo.
    My sister and I used to play this one that involved climbing up the back of the stairs and shimming your body through the gap between the steps.
    The games we made as kids are some of the best. You just think about the fun, nothing else.


  22. If you didn’t play the Floor-Is-Lava game when you were a kid, you didn’t have a decent childhood. :)

  23. sometimes, me and my fiends would carve boxes and other cardboard, make shurikens(ninja throwing stars) and be the “cardboard assassin, and he would try and sneak up on us and “kill” us. *lol* i always won: IM ONE WITH THE JAPANESE DRAGON!!!

    #suck it, branden

    1. lol, i clearly meant “friends” and not “bad and evil creatures” lol

      also, we had to carve a ninja mask (and armor, sleeves, and pants *lotta work* (; )

      #suck it branden, joe, mikey, rich, kyle, michayla, logan, AND mark (lol, i destroyed everyone!!!)

  24. My favorite was when we got our new stove. The box was not quite big enough to sit in, so you would go inside via mini door we cut in the side and the other person (or 2) would roll the box around, flip it, push it, roll it, no rules. You would slide around and fall and come out bruised, and then the next person would go in, and you would roll them around for a few minutes…
    Another game was See How Long You Can SIt In A Bucket Of Straight Hose Water. brr…

  25. trolls:
    the game trolls is a great game to play with friends its best to play around the table because its a great hiding place. one person hides round the table while the other peolple are t one end the objective is to get past the troll. the troll has to try and catch the other peolple.

  26. Natives:
    As a kid my little brothers and their friends and I would play a game where we pretended to be a native community living in a large tree (a hammock attached to a large tree) in the middle of a bear and wolf infested forest (the bears and wolves were golden retrievers). It became very elaborate, we had signals, jobs, and a ruling system. The jobs included Protectors who
    guarded the princesses (little girls) from the bears and wolves (I was a protector), hunters (hunted for food), gatherers (gathered food), and watchers (climbed the tree and watched out for bears and wolves). There was also a king who had an advisor. Eventually the king turned against his own people and kidnapped all the princesses so that was the end of that game. That is the only one I can recall.

  27. Vacuum cleaner tag: Adult turns on the vacuum and the kids aviod having their toes “sucked up.” Amounts to a lot of screaming.

  28. People in a circle, one person has a ball, they throw it straight up and call someone in the circle’s name and that person has to catch it. If they don’t they pick it up. The second that person’s name is called everyone bolts (there should be a limit zone). When the person called gets the ball, they have to yell “stop” or something else and everyone running has to freeze. Then the person can throw the ball at anyone, and they can’t move. If you hit a person, they’re it.

  29. Make wooden bows and bamboo stick arrows and shoot them at people. You can put something at the tips to not hurt anyone. Goggles and glasses are good to prevent eyes being poked out. Best played in a forest with trees that doesn’t get much light. I always won because I had the best aim and the fastest reload. Also, I was the most stealthy and had sufficient camouflage skills.

    Hahaha! Whitney, Patti, Brendan, Tyler, James, Anne, Jeffery, Karissa

  30. vampires
    you play it when it is pitch black outside and inside. So you choose who the vampire is and the rest hide, once the vampire finds you you do a really loud scream so that the rest know that you are now a vampire then you keep on looking with the vampire once the rest are found then you restart the game.

  31. Me and my brother use to play this game ( actually, we still do!) Where you had 6 dice and had to get them into this cup that was about 2 meter’s away, except you had to guess the number it would land on. If you got it right you got 5 points, if you go it in but not on the right number you got 3 points, if you missed but got the right number it was 1 point and if you missed and didn’t get the number it was no points. First to 50 points wins! It get’s really competitive!

  32. me and my brother used to take coloured tin cans and see who could find the curliest can to pick up the most cans. each colour had a different amount of points.

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  34. i play with a 5 yr old sis, a 2 yr old cousin, and a 4 yr old cousin so i have to get really creative or one will get bored.

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