6 Classic Games for Kids to Play -- With a Twist!

Laura Richards
Aug. 11, 2015

Remember all those games you played as a child? Here are some optional twists on those old favorites!

Want to make those classic games you enjoyed as a kid even more fun? Here are 6 games for kids to play with a twist or two added in for more fun:

Sardines Game
This is a reversal of the classic game of Hide and Seek.

How to Play the Sardines Game:

  1. One player (the sardine) hides while the other kids count to 20.
  2. All the kids go searching for the sardine.
  3. The first child to find the sardine asks, "Are you the sardine?" The sardine will answer "Yes."
  4. The child who found the sardine then joins the child who is hiding.
  5. This continues until all the kids end up in the same hiding spot all squished together like a can of sardines.
  6. The last kid left seeking the sardine becomes the next sardine, and you start the game all over again.


  • After the first kid finds the sardine, he and the person he finds move to a different hiding spot and hide together.
  • Play sardines in the dark -- outside or inside with the lights off.

In this standard game, kids flick marbles out of a circle, and the one who collects the most marbles wins. All kids need are a flat surface and a bag of marbles.

How to Play Marbles:

  1. If you're outside, draw a circle with chalk on the pavement or with a stick in the dirt. If you're inside, make a ring with yarn or string on the carpet or floor. The circle can be as big as you want, but the bigger it is, the harder the game will be to win.
  2. Make a plus sign with 13 marbles inside the circle.
  3. The first player flicks a marble with his thumb and knocks the marbles out of the circle, keeping the marbles that he's knocked out.
  4. The winner is the one who shoots the most marbles out of the circle.


  • Play the game by shooting the marbles with your eyes closed, with your back turned to the game from behind your back or using your less dominant hand.

Cat's Cradle
This is a classic string game for two players. It requires a loop of string that's used to form a cradle shape by following a series of steps. For the cat's cradle game, you'll need a piece of yarn or thick string cut to approximately three to four feet in length and tied at both ends, making a large loop.

How to Play Cat's Cradle:

  1. The first child puts her hands out in front of her with palms facing each other and with thumbs pointing up. (The position is as if you are holding a large ball out in front of you.)
  2. The second player places the string in the "Ys" that are formed between the other player's thumbs and index fingers with the string looped around the outside of each palm.
  3. This same player then loops the string on each side around the first player's palms, avoiding the thumbs.
  4. The first player then takes her middle finger and pulls the wrapped palm string to the opposite palm, doing this for each side. This creates the first cat's cradle with two Xs formed.

Make a soldier's bed out of the cat's cradle.

  • Follow the four steps above. Then have one player use his pointer and thumb fingers on each hand and pinch the Xs on either side of the cradle and pull both underneath the entire string cradle then up and through the middle as the first player lets go of her strings and the second player opens up her pointer and thumb fingers to get the string onto her hand. This forms another cradle called a soldier's bed.

Charades involves one child acting out words or a phrase without using any words while the other kids try to guess what words or phrase the actor is trying to act out. This can be a team played by individuals or as teams. No supplies are needed, but free charade cards can be found online to give you ideas for words to act out.

How to Play Charades:

  1. The player who goes first chooses what word or phrase they are going to act out, either by picking it or by selecting a random card with the word on it.
  2. Without using words, the actor must pretend and act out what that word or phrase is.
  3. The first child to guess wins that round, and then it's her turn to get up and do a charade. If playing in teams, the team that wins can select the player on their team to go next.


  • Use a timer and see how fast kids can act out their words or phrases.
  • Kids have to keep one hand behind their backs while acting out the charade to make it funnier and more challenging.
  •  Have all but one kid act out a word or phrase -- that one kid has to figure it out in one minute.

Go Fish
The goal of Go Fish is to win the most "books" of cards, which means four of any card -- for example, four kings, four queens, four twos, four sixes, etc. To play, you need at least two players and a standard deck of playing cards.

How to Play Go Fish:

  1. One child shuffles and deals the cards.
  2. If playing with one to three players, deal seven cards to each player. For four or more players, deal five cards to each. The rest of the cards are stacked face down.
  3. The first player asks another specific player to give them a certain card they are seeking, saying, for example, "Give me all your kings." The child asking must have at least one of those cards themselves.
  4. That child will then hand over any kings he has in his hand. Because the asker got what he asked for, he gets another turn. If the player he asked didn't have any kings to hand over, he would say, "Go Fish!" and then the asker would have to take the top card from the deck in the middle. If the card he picks up happens to be a king, the child shows it to everyone and then gets another turn. If not, it's the next player's turn.
  5. The winner ends up with the most "books" of cards.


  • Instead of saying, "Go Fish!" the player must do a silly dance and then everyone decides if it was silly enough to take a card.

The object of Jacks is to bounce the ball and pick up a jack with only one bounce. What's needed are one small bouncy ball that fits into your hand and metal or plastic jacks. This game must be played on a flat surface.

How to Play Jacks:

  1. Scatter the jacks onto the floor by holding them in your hand and dropping them from above.
  2. Take the ball and bounce it once and try to pick up one jack along with the bounced ball.
  3. Continue doing this by trying to pick up two jacks with the ball bouncing once, then try to pick up three and so on.
  4. The winner is the person who can pick up the most jacks along with the ball only bouncing once.


  • Get two balls and try to do this same game but with both hands at once.
  • Try to pick up two jacks at a time while picking up the ball on one bounce and do it in increments of two.
  • Play with another player and see who can grab the ball and the jack first as a contest.

These classic games for kids to play offer them hours of fun!


Ready to get your hands dirty? Try out tie-dye with your kids with 5 Easy Tie-Dye Instructions and 4 Tie-Dye Patterns to Try

Laura Richards is a Boston-based freelance writer and the mother of four boys, including a set of identical twins. She has written for numerous parenting publications and is the president of On Point Communications.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

Please enter a valid email address

Thanks for signing up!

We’ll see you back in your inbox.

Leave a comment

Create a free account with Care.com and join our community today.

You may also like

How much should you pay for a babysitter?