Lawn Games of Yesteryear: From Kick the Can to Frisbee and Tic-Tac-Toe
These tried and true lawn games have been played in backyards for years. We grew up watching our parents play them and quickly learned the rules and joined in. Sometimes they are forgotten about because of all the new lawn games being introduced. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the new lawn games also, but my sister reminded me about all those years ago when these were the games that we played.
This isn’t about having to buy a packaged game necessarily, but some good ol’ fashion fun with equipment that was common to have around the garage years back.
Kick the Can
There were many nights that all of us neighborhood kids were playing Kick the Can for hours. It was pretty much our go to game, back in the day. It is a very simple game and is one that is more fun with more people. Kick the Can ranked right up there with other games we played such as Statue Maker, Ghost in the Graveyard, Red Rover, Simon Says, Capture the Flag and other simple tag games.
In the description the “it” and the seeker are the same player.
Here is how to play:
- Place an empty can upside down in the yard, usually a can about the size of large coffee can. Pick one person it be “it”. With their eyes closed, they count to a number that was agreed upon before the game starts. While “it” is counting, all the other players run off and hide. Once “it” has counted to the designated number, he or she goes looking for the hiding players, but usually wants to be able to still see the can.
If “it” finds a hiding player they both run to the can and if the seeker get there before the hider, the hider goes to “jail” and “it” continues looking for the others. If player is able to run and kick the can without being beat to the can by the seeker, all the people in the “jail” are free and they disappear to go hide again.
- When the can has been kicked and the jail members are free, the “it” sets the can back up and the game resumes. Sometimes kids will play where once the can is set back up, “it” has to count again to give the freed players time to go hide again
- The game is over when there is only one person left hiding. That person is the winner and either that player will be the new “it” or someone else will be.Variations are where
- the “it” catches all of them and he or she is the winner.
- Play in the dark and the seeker uses a flashlight, if a hider gets shined upon they are caught.
- Add more seekers if you have a large group of people playing
- Have it where a seeker must tag the person to send them to jail.
- You may want to set a time limit so the game doesn’t go beyond 15 to 30 minutes.
Oh, that brings back lots of good memories.
My dad used to have a horseshoe pits in our backyard and would have friends over and play it all the time. Now, being from the Midwest, we still have horseshoes around here, even tournaments, but it is not as popular as it used to be. So here are the rules and information needed to set-up your own horseshoe pits.
For horseshoes, you will need two heavy-duty steel stakes that are 1” in diameter and approximately 30” so that they extend up out of the ground 14”. The stakes are set 40’ apart and should have a inward tilt towards each other of no more than 3” lean.
See the diagram from Sports KnowHow.com for the rest of the dimensions used to construct a permanent pit.
The main objective of the game is throw your horseshoe so it lands around the stake, or at least be the closest. It is usually played with 2 or 4 players. If playing singles, each player stands at one end and throws their two horseshoes. If playing doubles, one player from each team stands at one end and throws their two horseshoes. Then the other two people score it and throw them back.
When the horseshoe is thrown and encircles the stake, that is called a ringer, and that scores 3 points. If there are no ringers, the horseshoe closest to the pin will score 1 point, as long as it is no more than one horseshoe length away from the stake. If both of your horseshoes are not ringers but fit the one point description and are closer than your opponent, you will get 2 points. If both players throw a ringer, the points are canceled out.
When just playing a pick up game, people usually play to 21 points. However, if entered in a tournament they usually play to 50 points. Ultimately you can agree at the beginning what score you will play to.
Growing up we used to just use sidewalk chalk and play Tic-Tac-Toe (TTT) on the driveway. Now there are so many options of how to play this simple game outside. Here are just a few.
Using tape or chalk make a large TTT board on the cement then use 4 paper plates for the O’s and put X’s on bottom of four more plates with washi tape. Then play the game.
Here I spray painted the lines on the grass and used the paper plates.
Make a cute little board on a slab of tree and pick out some stones that are relatively flat. Next decorate them. I have seen the simple X’s and O’s on the stones, I have also seen ladybugs and bees as the symbols as well. Use your imagination, as long as there are two different designs and four of each.
Get a big blanket and put lines on it with tape in the TTT formation. Then use frisbees, plates or anything flat to mark the X’s and O’s. The plates or frisbees would just need to be two different colors and also have four of each.
https://www.thegardenglove.com/diy-projects-garden-games-for-kids/ has some great ideas to kids into the garden to play. They lay 9 square pavers into the ground and have the kids use them for their TTT board. Rocks or critters they make can be the X’s and O’s. They also have ideas for checkers and hopscotch on their site.
In my class, we set out 9 hula hoops and the players must run a distance of approximately 20 feet, place one of their items down, run back and tag the next player who does the same. Meanwhile, another team is also running down one at a time to lay their item, returning to the line to tag their next runner who goes and places their item trying to get tic-tac-toe – three-in-a-row.
Whatever happened to just grabbing a frisbee and a friend and going outside to throw and catch a frisbee. Now they have discs instead of frisbees many of the times. But whether you have a frisbee or a disc you can do more than catch and throw.
- In my class, we make up our own frisbee golf by having the group of students pick a target (goal post, bench, hurdle, flag pole, light pole, section of the fence…) and each student has their own frisbee. They all “tee” off by throwing their frisbee toward the goal and count how many throws it takes to get to the goal. It is a good way to introduce some basic rules of golf, such as; courtesy to stay behind the person throwing, the lowest score is the goal, the idea of who has honors, what “teeing off” means…
- 500 – remember that game. We used to play with a ball, but you could do it with a frisbee. The person with the frisbee stands a distance away from the group of other players. The thrower calls out a number (“50”, “100”, “25”, “200”) then throws the frisbee and the person who catches it gets those points. Play until someone gets 500 points.
Create a target with pool noodles to aim the frisbee at.
- Set up a ladder and label the different areas between the steps at various point values and aim for them. Decide ahead of time the desired point value to achieve to win the game.
Wrapping it up
So in conclusion, bring back those old time games and teach the younger generation how to play. They don’t need to spend much money and can be entertained for hours.
If you can think of other games that are older games that seem to have been forgotten, leave me a comment and I will get back to you.
Have fun and stay active.