5 Free, No Supplies Needed, Traditional Games that You Played as a Kid that are Worth Sharing with Your Child

There is a reason of these traditional games have been played for generations.  They are easy, fun, and cheap, but they also teach important developmental skills, such as ….

  • Social skills.
  • Attention skills.
  • Impulse control
  • Problem solving
  • Strategy use

I often hear parents and other caregiver say that are not sure how to what to “play” with children.  Adult end up in the supervisor role and often miss out on playing with their children.  These are easy, familiar games that almost all adults played as a child that are great to share with your own children.


  1. Ring Around the Rosie. This is one of the easiest games to start with for younger children.  It focuses on cooperation and coordination with other children to sing and walk together.  Impulse control is use as you have to wait to “fall down” together at the end of the song.
  2. Follow the Leader. This is another game that can be played by younger children with at least some success.  As children get older, the game can become more complex to continue to challenge them.  Attention to other person is key in this game (social skill), as well as controlling one’s own behavior to math the leader (impulse control).    Taking turns being the leaders is great way to start encouraging social and behavioral skills for children.follow the leader
  3. Red Light, Green Light. By about 2 ½ to 3 years old children can really enjoy this game.  Attention and impulse control are critical to knowing when to go and stop.  This game also allows children a chance to be the person saying stop/go or red/green light as a challenge for social and behavioral skills.  Frustration tolerance and emotional regulation skills are challenged when children make a mistake and are “out.”Red light, green light
  4. Duck, Duck, Goose (or if you are from Minnesota, we call it Duck, Duck, Grey Duck). Children seem to understand this game between ages 3-4 years.  Younger children can participate, but don’t usually understand the steps yet.  Children have to work hard at this game to maintain attention while controlling their bodies while sitting.  The tapping of heads builds anticipation and excitement, providing a chance to practice impulse control skills.  Social skills and frustration tolerance are building into the turn taking aspect of this game as well.
  5. Simon Says. Most children need to be 4-5 years old before the idea of this game makes sense (specifically to not do an action when Simon doesn’t say to).  However, younger children can enjoy this game as just an imitation activity.  To be successful at this game a child needs to pay close attention and inhibit the urge to do an action when the leader says and does it (an impulse control skill).  Frustration tolerance and emotional regulation skills are challenged when children make a mistake and are “out.”Simon says

Looking for more ideas?

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net