9 Outdoor Games Today’s Kids Probably Don’t Know How to Play

iStock
iStock

Once upon a time, outdoor play was just a natural part of childhood. Of course, back then it wasn’t so much a matter of mom and dad knowing that fresh air, exercise, and social interaction were vital to both the physical and intellectual development of a child as much as it was getting us kids out of their hair for a few hours.

Going outside and jumping rope or playing kick the can with other kids in the neighborhood used to be as automatic as eating breakfast. Today, however, these activities are such an anomaly that childhood developmental experts have given them an official technical name—Unstructured Play—and are warning parents that it is becoming as archaic as cursive handwriting and clapping erasers after school. How many of these games did you play?

1. HOPSCOTCH

Though there's an abundance of colored sidewalk chalk available for sale still today, kids rarely use it to draw a hopscotch grid. Back in the day, we usually had a choice of traditional white or maybe yellow chalk (often palmed from the blackboard ledge when the teacher wasn’t looking) with which to draw the playing field. Part of the fun of the game was the search for the “perfect” throwing stone (at least one flat side was preferred to avoid unnecessary bounce). Hopscotch wasn’t always strictly a kids’ game; Roman soldiers used to play the game in full armor as a military exercise.

2. KICK THE CAN

This game is sort of a hybrid of hide-and-seek and tag, but instead of actually touching the players, “It” must spot them and jump over the can (or bucket or other handy receptacle) while calling them out: “Over the can on Sandy—behind the big evergreen in Kosnik’s front yard!” If properly identified, that person was “out”. However, while It's back was turned, all the hidden players conspired to quietly run over to the can and kick it before being noticed. Much like flashlight tag, kick the can required players to run and hide all over the immediate neighborhood without regard for private property, which may very well have led to the “Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!” trope

3. JUMP ROPE


iStock

The advantage to jump rope was that it could either be a solitary activity or played with an unlimited number of people. All that was necessary was a length of rope (or something rope-like; in a pinch, even an electric extension cord would suffice). There were an abundance of skill games that every kid knew, all of which had their own “chant”. For example, “High, low, jolly, pepper” required the jumper to first skip over the rope at a level several inches above the ground, then skip in a crouched position when the rope was lowered, then spin in place while jumping, and lastly trying to keep up while the rope was twirled in double-time. Tripping up meant losing your turn and it was time for the next player to see how many choruses of the song he or she could get through before stumbling.

4. CHINESE JUMP ROPE

Chinese jump rope did originate in China, and there is jumping involved, but the “rope” is a misnomer. The equipment involved was either an official industrial-strength elastic band sold in drug and toy stores every summer in the 1960s as a “Chinese jump rope” or an extra-long circle of thick rubber bands tied together. The two “ends” held the stretched band in place around their ankles, and the jumper was required to perform a series of prescribed maneuvers inside and outside of the band before progressing to the next level.

5. JACKS


iStock

Jacks is another game that dates back to ancient times, although in 400 BCE the players used the tiny ankle bones of sheep instead of the six-pointed metal pieces that were included with a red rubber ball in every birthday party favor bag in the 1950s and '60s. Some of us who never advanced past “twosies” didn’t find much enjoyment in a game of jacks, but it was allegedly a great exercise in hand-eye coordination.

6. FOUR SQUARE

The rules for four square varied depending upon your locale; some neighborhoods had more stringent rules and scoring systems than the more casual, laissez-faire “if the ball bounces twice in a square or hits a line you’re out” version of the game. In either case, the only necessities for play were a playground ball and some pavement. If you didn’t have chalk to outline the playing field, the tar lines in your driveway or cracks in the sidewalk would suffice.

7. RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT

Red light, green light required a minimum of three players, but there was no maximum. And the actual play involved something kids love—running as fast as they could when the “Traffic Light’ turned his or her back and announced “green light!” When the Traffic Light did an about-face and called out “red light!,” however, everyone was required to freeze in place, and anyone caught moving had to return to the starting line.

8. TAG


iStock

There were several dozen variations of  tag, from frozen tag to TV tag to shadow tag. Flashlight tag was always a favorite, mainly because it was played after dark and had that extra element of spookiness and suspense as you ran through the neighborhood hiding in sheds and ducking around hedges. Some game strategies were hard-learned, such as not running behind the garage of a homeowner in the midst of serious remodeling. (You might step on a board with a 3 ¼” nail protruding from it that pierces right through your sneaker and requires a trip to the ER and a tetanus shot. Just sayin’.)

9. RED ROVER

Red Rover was the ideal playground game because more players made for better game play. Two teams of players joined hands and faced each other on opposite sides of the field. The captain of each team took turns summoning a player from the opposite side: “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Jack come over!” Jack would then have to run at top speed and try to break through the joined hands of the opposing team. Of course, prior to his sprint, Jack would have properly vetted the rival team and determined which players might have the weakest grip. If Jack didn’t manage to break through, he had to join the opposing team. However, if he did break through the chain, he not only got to return to his own team, but he was also allowed to take one of those weak link players back with him. The amount of rough-housing required for this game almost guarantees that would be banned from today’s sanctioned playground activities.

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That You Should Stream Right Now

A scene from Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020).
A scene from Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020).
Netflix

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 11 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.

1. Tiger King (2020)

At first glance, the seven-part docuseries Tiger King could be mistaken for a mockumentary along the lines of American Vandal or This Is Spinal Tap. An exotic pet breeder and roadside zoo owner named Joe Exotic practices polygamy, nuzzles with tigers, and records country music videos attacking his arch-nemesis, big cat advocate Carole Baskin. That Exotic ends up running for Oklahoma governor and alleges Baskin fed her late husband to her own tigers after putting him through a meat grinder may be the two least weird twists in this sprawling epic of entrepreneurial spirit, animal welfare, and mullets.

Where to watch it: Netflix

2. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming in 2019.

Where to watch it: Netflix

3. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile.

Where to watch it: Hulu

4. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere.

Where to watch it: Hulu

5. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous.

Where to watch it: Hulu

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it.

Where to watch it: iTunes

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid.

Where to watch it: Amazon

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime.

Where to watch it: HBO; Hulu

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003.

Where to watch it: HBO; Hulu

10. Perfect Bid (2019)

Price is Right superfan Ted Slauson spent a lifetime analyzing retail price tags in case he was ever called up from the studio audience. What happens when he gets a little too close to a perfect Showcase Showdown guess will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Where to watch it: YouTube Movies

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER