Children playing traditional games together in Singapore

The next time as you reminisce about the good old days, take your children with you down memory lane.

Kids Activities in the 80s

Share what it was like growing up in the eighties; show them what recess breaks were made of and how afternoons and weekends were spent meeting up at playgrounds to play hide-and-seek, jump rope, hopscotch, police-and-thief, or catching guppies at the longkang (canal).

Here are five local, old school games that were popular in the 1980s. Introducing these games to your children will not only transport you back in time but also allow them to have a glimpse into your past. It also creates a fun environment to encourage your children to get active and be more interested in outdoor activities.

When kids get active, there are plenty of health benefits. These include improved development of movement, motor and social skills, and better hand-eye coordination. Children also build stronger muscles and bones, have better weight control, and a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Burning energy in the day also allows kids to have a better sleep at night.

Hopscotch

Hopscotch is a great game for kids to play. 

What you need: Chalk or masking tape, and a small object as your marker (a small bean bag, button, stone, etc.)

How to play:

  1. Draw a hopscotch design on the ground. The squares should be large enough to fit one foot.
  2. Throw your marker to land on the square labelled “1”. If your marker doesn’t land within the square or if it touches a line, you lose your turn. If not, hop through the squares, but do not hop into the square with your marker in it.
  3. You cannot have more than one foot on the ground at the same time unless you are on squares 4 and 5, and 7 and 8. But if your marker is in any of those squares, you cannot put your foot there too.
  4. Pick up your marker on your way back to square 1. Remember not to put your foot down. After picking up your marker, skip that square and finish the course.
  5. Once you’ve completed the course with your marker on square 1, move on to square 2 (and so on so forth). The person who completes the course first wins.

Benefits: Jumping in and out of boxes improves foot-eye coordination and balance.

Pepsi-Cola 123

What you need: At least three people playing and shoes to protect your feet.

How to play:

  1. Gather everyone in a circle and assign numbers to each player.
  2. Say in unison “Pepsi Cola” then jump back “1-2-3” times as far back as you can go.
  3. Everyone shouts their assigned number and tries to step on another player’s foot in one leap.
  4. Anyone who gets stepped on is out of the game and an eventual winner will emerge.

Benefits: Lateral jumps help strengthen leg muscles.

Pepsi-Cola 123 is recommended to be played at open spaces. The Botanic Gardens and Marina Barrage are some places with open grounds.

Zero Point

Zero point is another game that was popular back in the day. 

What you need: A packet of rubber bands, tie them together to form a long chain (about 4m).

How to play:

  1. Form two teams with at least two people in each group. There is no maximum number of players.
  2. Two people from one team should stand facing each other, fixing the rubber band rope in the shape of a rectangle. The height of the rope should be as close to the ground as possible (ankle height works well).
  3. Each member of the team will shout “zero point” as they cross over the rope. When the whole team has crossed, all will shout “one point”.
  4. When crossing over the rope, team members have to perform certain patterns of jumping. The players can decide these patterns and rules can vary.
  5. Gradually raise the rope at each turn. From ankle to knee, to the waist, to chest, to shoulder, to head, and finally, above the head. Players must complete the patterns to gain points.
  6. You are not allowed to touch the rope as you cross it at the first two levels, but from waist level onwards, you are allowed to touch the rope as you cross.
  7. The team with the most points wins.

Benefits: Rope-jumping skills transfer to plenty of other athletic pursuits and improve motor coordination.

Police and Thief

What you need: At least two people playing and running shoes.

How to play:

  1. Form two teams, one police and one thief.
  2. Find two spots (trees, lampposts, etc.) a distance apart as each of your bases. The spot for the police will also act as their prison.
  3. The police will catch the thieves and place them in prison.
  4. Thieves will attempt to break their buddies out of prison.

Benefits: Provides an aerobic workout when played for more than 10 minutes.

Chapteh

What you need: A chapteh.

How to play:

  1. Use your feet (or other parts of your body, except your hands) to keep the chapteh in the air for as long as possible. Kick, tap or juggle the chapteh as a soccer player would a soccer ball.
  2. When it touches the ground, you lose your turn.

Benefits: Promotes foot-eye coordination.

Play chapteh and other fun activities with your family this weekend or join one of the family and kid-friendly programmes by the Health Promotion Board.


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References

  1. Gavin, M. L. (2014, Oct). Motivating Kids to be Active. [KidsHealth].
    Retrieved Sep 2016 from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/active-kids.html
  2. Cannon, K. (2014, Nov 19). How Doing Hopscotch Can Improve Your Workout [Men's Health].
    Retrieved Sep 2016 from http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/simple-drill-to-make-you-more-athletic
  3. Skarnulis, L. (2002). Skipping Rope Doesn’t Skip Workout [WebMD].
    Retrieved Sep 2016 from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/skipping-rope-doesnt-skip-workout#3