What are the Games That Children Played in the 1950s & 1960s?

By Carolyn Scheidies
Children in the 1950s played active games like Red Rover.

Children in the 1950s and 1960s played a variety of games that challenged both the mind and body. These included guessing games as well as running and racing games such as Twenty Questions, Red Rover and Duck, Duck, Goose. Many of the games are still played by children today.

20 Questions

This game is played outside, inside or while traveling. One person chooses a person, place or thing. The others have 20 questions to guess the correct answer. They can only ask questions that require a yes or not answer. Questions might be “Is it a person?,” “Is it a place?” or “Is this person male?” The person with the correct answer gets to choose the next subject. If no one guesses the correct answer, the person who chose the subject chooses another person, place or thing and the questions start again.

Simon Says

“Simon” calls out directions for everyone to follow. The “Simon” caller may say, “jump up and down,” “Turn around,” “Touch your nose” or other directives. The object of the game is for those playing to only follow directions when prefaced with the phrase, “Simon says.” "Simon says jump up and down,” "Simon says turn around” or "Simon says touch your nose.” If you follow directions given without the “Simon says” phrase, you become the caller or “Simon.”

Red Rover

Children form lines anywhere from 20 to 50 feet apart, depending upon the space available for playing the game. Those in each line tightly hold hands. One side calls to the other side, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (the name of a person in the other line) right over.” The person named runs as hard as possible to the other line with the intention of breaking through the line. If she succeeds in breaking the line, she chooses a person from the broken line and returns to her original line. If she is unable to break through, she joins the line she tried to break through, and the other line calls out, “Red Rover, Red Rover send (the name of a person in the other line) right over.”

Freeze Tag

Select a person to be "It." The goal of "It" is to tag everyone else. Once you are touched you must freeze in position. Players touched are "frozen" and cannot move until the game is over or until a person who is not frozen touches them to "unfreeze" them. The player who is tagged three times becomes the "It." If the person who is "It" manages to to "freeze" all the players at the same time so everyone is "frozen," he can choose the person who takes his place as "It."

Duck, Duck, Goose

Children make a large circle before sitting on their haunches with their hands under their armpits pretending to be ducks. One person is chosen as the "fox." The fox walks slowly around the circle tapping each person on the head, saying, "Duck. Duck. Duck." Children can flap their wings as the fox circles. Finally, the fox taps someone and says, "Goose." When that happens a race ensues. The goose must jump up and run around the circle trying to tag the fox before the fox can take her place in the circle. If the fox gets back to where the race started first, the goose becomes the fox. If the goose tags the fox first, the fox takes another turn.

About the Author

Carolyn Scheidies has been writing professionally since 1994. She writes a column for the “Kearney Hub” and her latest book is “From the Ashes.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she has also lectured in the media department.