Hillcrest banner

15 GREAT retro children’s games and activities

Looking for games to play with the kids? Here are 15 great retro children’s games and activities that are sure to bring back childhood memories.

Hands up, who loved summer as a kid? There were awesome games for kids to play, trees to climb and plenty of outdoor mischief to be had.

In our busy, ever-connected world of today, it’s no surprise we have a sense of nostalgia for the simplicity of days gone by.

Rather than leave these activities in the past, many of the things we used to do are perfect for kids today, and might just bring back some happy memories for you too.

So why not add a little whimsy to your world this summer, with these great retro games for kids.


  • Discount code MREC
  • Dept of Environment Dingo campaign
  • 2024 Education Guide

Retro children’s games and activities

Hold a lemonade stall

We all did it when we desperately wanted to raise some money for some new spokey dokeys for our bikes. But lemonade stands are about more than simply boosting pocket money. Teaching kids about patience, persistence, maths, marketing, money and entrepreneurship, they will learn to communicate with others and raise money for a good cause (or the latest Shopkins).

Go on a bike ride and have a picnic.

Dust off the bikes, pack a blanket and have an old-fashioned picnic with the kids. It’s a great way to spend some time together and get outdoors.

Thumb wrestling.

Were you a thumb wrestling champion? Challenge the kids to this iconic yet super-simple retro kids game. The battle could go for hours!

Write a letter.

Fast becoming a lost art, writing a letter to someone is an important skill to have. You can write to Santa, the Easter Bunny, family members, or even imaginary friends. Keep it fun, and if they do get one into the postbox, make sure they receive one in return!

Water games for kids.

Some of the best fun from an Aussie summer revolved around water. Set up a Slip ‘n’ Slide in the back garden, or simply start the garden sprinkler for kids to play in. Add water balloons and water pistols for extra splashiness!

Simple backyard games for kids.

Hopscotch, Jump Rope, Tag, Hide & Seek, Duck Duck Goose, What’s the Time Mr Wolf? These are retro games for kids that we could play for hours. Not only fun, they all get kids active and off the screens, and are something you can share with kids (and grown-ups) of all ages.

Bust out the Yo-Yo.

Walk the dog? Rock the Baby? Here’s a chance to show the kids exactly how cool you really are by remembering your Yo-Yo tricks. If you can!

Make tin can stilts.

A staple toy of the ‘80s, let your own kids enjoy the simplicity and fun of tin can stilts. Just need a couple of old tins and some string and get stomping for one of the best retro children’s activities ever!

Build a den.

No summer is complete without a den in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; a sheet over the trampoline or a fort from cardboard boxes (or sofa cushions) will do the trick. The main thing is letting the kids’ imagination do the building.

Set up an obstacle course.

Build an obstacle course out of furniture, cardboard boxes and anything else you can find for everyone to race around. If space is tight, head down the park for egg and spoon races, sack races, and a competition of who can throw the water balloon the furthest.

Hula hooping challenge.

Let’s be honest, hula hooping was a skill we all wanted to master as kids. But do you still have it? Get the hula hoops out and see if you do! No hula hoops? Have a go at juggling instead!

Go on a scavenger hunt.

Give kids a list of things to find ­­– a yellow flower, a black feather, a beetle – and head off around the neighbourhood or local park to track them down. Take a camera to document what you find.

Make homemade ice blocks.

Nothing says summer like homemade ice blocks. Super-easy to make and healthy, too; kids love to make them (and love to eat them even more).

Fly a kite.

When was the last time you flew a kite? You’ll be surprised how fun it really is! No kite? Why not try and make one!

Go camping in the backyard.

No need for any fancy equipment or spending hours on the road. Set up a tent and sleeping bags in the backyard and have an old-fashioned sleepout. The kids will love it!

Related Stories

Early literacy games – anytime and anywhere
12 ‘fair-dinkum’ Australia Day games
11 alternative (and super-fun!) uses for your trampoline


Dept of Environment Dingo campaign

Search tags: Activities | Summer
By Claire Gilligan
WITH A FIFO HUSBAND WHO WORKS AWAY WEEKS AT A TIME, CLAIRE ENJOYS FINDING FUN, LOCAL THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT TO OCCUPY HER AND HER TWO GIRLS' TIME. ORIGINALLY FROM SYDNEY, CLAIRE AND HER FAMILY LOVE ALL THE THINGS THE SUNSHINE COAST HAS TO OFFER AND ENJOY SHOWING IT OFF TO VISITING FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Kids on the Coast is a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

You might also like…

7 Free guided meditations for kids

7 Free guided meditations for kids

Does your little one need some extra help winding down? Guided meditation for kids could be the answer, so we’re sharing our favourites.