6 of the best retro games to play with the family - and how to play them

By Conor Marlborough
Thursday, 26th March 2020, 3:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th March 2020, 3:26 pm

With millions of kids off school and many of their parents working from home, there has never been a better time to learn the rules of some of the most popular games from the good old days.

Plenty of adults will remember these classics from their own childhoods - but might need a refresher on exactly how to play them.

None of these games require any special equipment, although some might be more fun in the garden or a room with plenty of space to run around.


Stuff you will need: Paper and pencils (or a drawing app on a tablet)

How to play: First, cut up some strips of paper and have all the players write down suggestions for drawings on each of them. Then fold up each strip of paper and put them all into a hat.

Next, split into teams. Kids v Adults could be a good combination to try. A player from each team) then take turns picking ideas from the hat and drawing them in front of the other players.

The drawer’s team tries to guess what they are portraying. Every time the team gets one right, the drawer picks another idea from the hat. Use your phone timer to set a two minute time limit for each team’s turn. Once the time is up, it’s the other team’s turn to draw.

Keep track of how many ideas each team identifies correctly. When all the ideas in the hat have been used up, count the scores. The team with the highest score wins.

Grandma’s footsteps

Stuff you will need: a large open space.

How to play: One person is selected to be Grandma. They stand facing a wall, while the other players stand at the opposite end of the room or garden.

When the game begins, the other players begin to move towards Grandma and tap her on the shoulder - but they need to be sneaky! Grandma can turn round suddenly at any point, and if she spots a player moving, they are out of the game. No one is allowed to move while Grandma is looking behind her.

Whichever player manages to touch Grandma on the shoulder first without being spotted wins the game - and becomes Grandma for the next round.

What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

Stuff you will need: a garden or large open space.

How to play: Similar to Grandma’s Footsteps, one player is nominated to be Mr Wolf (often best if Mum or Dad takes this role), who stands at one end of the space facing away from the others.

The other players begin at the opposite end of the room, and ask “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”

Mr Wolf then answers with any hour on the clock (e.g. “It’s 10 O’Clock”), and the players then take that number of steps forward towards him. The players can make their strides long or short. When they have taken the correct number of steps, the players ask him again, and he replies again.

The players are trying to get close enough to touch Mr Wolf on the shoulder without being caught. Mr Wolf is trying to lure the other players close enough to him that he can catch them, but not so close that they can touch his shoulder.

When Mr Wolf thinks a player is close enough to his back that he can catch them, he replies “DINNER TIME” and turns around and runs after the players.

If a player can touch him on the back, they win. But if Mr Wolf manages to lure a player close enough for him to grab them when he says “DINNER TIME”, he wins instead.

Noughts and Crosses

Stuff you’ll need: pencils and paper (or a phone app)

How to play: First draw two vertical parallel lines about three inches apart, then draw two horizontal parallel lines over the first pair, so that you have nine, roughly equal sized squares.

Now, two players take it in turns to mark one of the boxes - one with a cross shape and one with a nought shape.

The aim is to create a straight and unbroken line of three crosses or three noughts. The line can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. The players can stop each other from winning by drawing their symbol in a box that blocks their opponent from completing a line of three of their symbols.

Shopping list

Stuff you will need: A good memory!

How to play: Players take it in turns to add items to an imaginary shopping list.

The first player might say “toilet paper”, then the second player has to say “toilet paper”, and then add another item, like “milk”. Then the next player must repeat the previous items on the shopping list, before adding theirs.

The game continues like this, with the shopping list getting longer and longer, until a player forgets one of the items on the list - or takes too long to remember.


Stuff you’ll need: a sharp wit.

How to play: This game is a slow burner, and can take place over a whole day - or longer. Each player is trying to get their opponents to say the word “Yes” or the word “No”.

To start with, players will be on their toes, ready to answer innocently-posed questions with longer answers - but as the day goes on, some players will lose focus, and can be caught out to the delight of the remaining competitors. The winner is the last one standing.