I was born in the 1960s and the 70s and 80s are the decades I remember as my childhood. There were no electronic devices, no personal computers until I was in my teens and then it was the ZX80 and the ZX81 which where we waited patiently listening to the ‘noise’ as we loaded our games using magnetic tape cassettes.
Boy what a difference a few decades makes. We now have Nintendo, X-boxes, Wii, laptops, desktops, tablets, smart phones, Game Boys: the list is seemingly endless and my children often ask me what I did before these things existed.
Now I remember that back in the 70s and 80s we used to entertain ourselves perfectly well. We played horses and showjumping, went for hours to the park and cycled round the village without fear. We climbed trees and made mud pies and I learned to roller skate!
“And we played fun kids games as a family” I reply.
“What do you mean mummy?” they ask, inquisitively.
“Well, like these” I say and retrieve some ancient board games from the attic that have travelled with me since I moved out of home over 30 years ago.
We settle down for an afternoon of ‘classic kids boards games and toys’ and you know what? We haven’t had so much fun in ages.
So here are a few more of my favourite games that you might like to resurrect to play with your family on rainy days, sunny days or just for a bit of nostalgia when your friends come round.
The great thing about most of these games is that they usually cost less than the price of a family meal out but provide so much more, longer-lasting fun.
See how many you remember from your own childhood?
1. Kerplunk (No limit but 2-6 is ideal)
This is a fast-paced, fun game of manual dexterity, observation and luck. Narrow sticks are placed into a tubular container to create a kind of stick platform. Marbles are added to the container and are held up by the sticks. Each player in turn must attempt to remove a stick without letting a marble fall.
You win by having the fewest marbles at the end of the game.
If you like a bit of tension, and physical skill, then this is the game for you. It can be played in a few minutes and each version of it will be different due to the placement of the sticks and marbles. There are other variations available nowadays such as tumbling monkeys or space alien version.
Whichever one you choose, be warned that there can be some disputes since the rule is, “if you touch a stick then you have to take that particular stick”, so be careful when moving your hand around the container…….my sisters never, ever let me off if I touched a stick inadvertently!
Where to get it
Get your stethoscopes out and those surgical gloves on for a game of skill where a steady hand means your patient’s organs are removed without the dreaded buzzer going off.
This is basically a game where you have to remove the body’s organs (not literally of course) using a pair of tweezers, without touching the sides.
If you touch the sides, then a loud buzzer sounds which always makes you jump and you lose your turn. It’s a bit like Kerplunk in that tension is created with each person’s go.
And although my sister always wanted to take out my real kidney, that is definitely NOT part of the game! And a bit like real surgery, it’s better to have a steady hand and a calm disposition if you’re aiming to win!
Where to get it
3. Connect 4 (2 players)
My children love this and it is one of our favourite ‘quick games’ because you can play it in a few minutes, so if we are waiting for someone to get ready before going out, we often have a sneaky round of connect 4.
I really like this too as younger children can enjoy and play as well. All you have to do is get 4 of your counters in a row before your opponent – either horizontally, vertically, or remember the sneaky diagonal?
That’s the way to catch them out and win it!
We like the travel version of this game too as it’s easy to play in the car and no one has to concentrate too much, and there are no board pieces to slide across the floor when you stop at the traffic lights.
We also love the giant, garden version which we play with my own mum sometimes on balmy summer days. Perfect!
Where to get it
4. Twister (2-4 is ideal but more just makes it more difficult)
If you really want to tie your family up in knots then this is a great game which is just so simple but great fun. We all love to see everyone else make a fool of themselves, and most of us are foolish enough to think that we really can still do the splits, which makes for some great laugh-out-loud moments.
I played this with my girls, my sister and nephew last Christmas and can honestly say that we haven’t laughed so much in ages and the premise is extremely simple.
There is a large plastic mat with different coloured circles that you lay out on the floor. You move a spinner which decides which hand or foot you need to place on which coloured circle. As the game progresses, you find yourself in increasingly ‘twisted’ positions so you’ll definitely get to know your fellow players well. If you fall or touch the mat with anything other than your hands and feet, you’re out.
A word of warning here: you really need to wear trousers or leggings to play this game or you may show off more than you bargained for!
What’s so much fun is seeing yourself and others contort themselves into shapes that are really not humanly possible but you give it a go anyway! I’ll never look at my Aunty Sylvia the same way again! 🙂
Great fun and there’s also a giant outdoor version as well.
Where to get it
And finally …
5. The Rubix Cube
OK so this I know is not really a board game, but it is a classic toy from the 1970s that I couldn’t leave out.
Created in 1974 by Erno Rubik, it’s a 3D puzzle shaped like a cube where there are 9 (3×3) individual squares making up each of the 6 faces of the cube. The aim is to manipulate the layers so that instead of each side containing random colours, they display only one colour per side. Far more preferable to those of us who like symmetry and order!
I did manage to do this when I was a child. I worked out the simple sections and could always get to having one side completely one colour. From then on I had to learn it by rote. Can’t remember any of it now though but I’m sure there are plenty of youngsters who can do it easily.
The Rubik cube is still one of the best mind games on the market and it’s pretty good for finger dexterity too! There are even puzzles now with 16 squares per side and those in various other shapes such as pyramids too.
It’s not the best ‘family’ game as it only needs 1 player (but you might need a few more brains to help), age 8 upwards.
Where to get it
If you want to be really impressed, then check out the world record – less than 5 seconds. Unbelievable but true!
So go on, as we used to say in the 70s “I dare you” to challenge your family and have some good old, family fun together.
I’d love to hear your stories of playing these games with your family, so please do leave a comment so we can all remember some good times.