Games our Grandparents Played: Childhood in the 1930s

Games 1930s by Family Tree Video

Imagine a time before computers, cell phones and flat screen T.V.s. Without the technology that occupies so much of our time today, what did our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents do for fun when they were children?

Below are a few of the more popular games, activities and toys of the 1930’s. It was the era of the Great Depression when families didn’t have a lot of money and leisure time was spent together or with other children in the neighborhood.

Outdoor Games, Toys and More

  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Box Ball or Basket Ball
  • Relevio
  • Marbles
  • Hide and Go Seek
  • Drop the Handkerchief
  • Kick the Can
  • Stink Fish
  • Mother, May I
  • Simple Simon
  • Tag
  • Jump Rope
  • Duck, Duck Goose
  • Capture the Flag
  • Hop scotch
  • Red Rover
  • Pedal Cars
  • Tops
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Wooden Wagons
  • Scooters
  • Ring toss
  • BB guns
  • Wooden Sleds
  • Roller Skates and Ice Skates
  • Bicycles

Indoor Games, Toys and More

  • Monopoly
  • Scrabble
  • Sorry!
  • Game of Life
  • Chutes and Ladder
  • Wahoo
  • Finance
  • Anagrams
  • Easy Money
  • Stock Ticker
  • Inflation
  • Meet The Missus
  • Buccaneer
  • Cards
  • Checkers
  • Dominos
  • Erector sets
  • Electric Trains
  • Dolls – Shirley Temple doll
  • Doll Houses
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Balsa wood construction kits – airplanes
  • Lincoln Logs
  • Tinker Toys
  • Radio

For questions to ask your grandparents (or parents) to learn about their childhood, visit my post: ‘Grandparent Interview Questions’.

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1930s Games

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Grandparent Games

17 thoughts on “Games our Grandparents Played: Childhood in the 1930s”

      • My sisters and neighbor kids played Washington Punch in Sandpoint, Idaho. I was born in 1941. I think it was a version of hide and seek.All I remember is choosing a home base, for us it was a big maple tree in our yard, then one of us chanted as he/she, with a finger, drew a circle, I think to represent a cherry pie, on the back of the child who was “it,” ” Draw a circle, cut it in X? pieces,….” don’t remember the rest. “It” would then count to Xx? And everyone else would run and hide. While “”It” was searching, the others would run back to home base, trying to touch it before being tagged by “It” and becoming “It.” Can anyone fill in the blanks?

  1. Has anyone heard of a game called camel, where one person bends over and holds a stick and other jump on him to try to knock him over.

  2. Need real name of this game we played in the 1930’s—with a leader or spaldeine pinkish ball first-second and third

  3. we played a game we called ‘andy, andy, over’ and you threw the ball over the school house (one room) and yelled andy, andy, over. But I can’t remember what we did next. I think it was run around the house and try to tag the other team. Does anyone remember this?

  4. My Mom & Dad taught me this game long ago so I’m guessing it might be from the 30s,40’s or 50’s? Or maybe even an old Navy game- as my Dad served in WW2. All I can remember is the # of times you repeated the word “golly” meant something in trying to figure out the answer. It also involved hand motions to give clues re which vowel was needed in sequence? (Maybe)
    They are gone now😢 & I wish I could remember-it was so much fun!
    Golly golly golly! … I hope someone can help!

  5. I am reading my sister’s diary, kept by my mom, and this entry, dated Aug 4, 1936: ‘Saw Shirley Temple in ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’. Tonight played ‘Screens’ for the first time.’ (my sister would have been 9 at the time)
    Any idea what ‘Screens’ was? I know my sister growing up was crazy about movie stars (like all of her girl friends).

    • Hi Don,
      ‘Screens’ was short for movie screens. The movie came out in 1936 so she was seeing the first release. It sounds like you have a very special family heirloom.


  6. When I was a kid we play the game called ditcham… ditch-em….We also played hide and go seek but I liked ditcham better……not sure of the spelling…..does anyone remember it?

  7. My mom and dad played “jacks”–they were both born in 1925. They taught me to play as a child and it was so fun. When I was little, jacks sets were super cheap–but when I looked not too long ago, they didn’t seem so…

  8. All these games of yesteryear…so cool. I’m looking for descriptions of 2 games: Touch the Third, and, Copenhagen. Both would have been outdoor games played by children at my grandmother’s home (The Ridgeville Castle) in Fonthill, Pelham, Ontario in the 1920’s, at parties she hosted to celebrate the end of the school year for the summer break. Thank you! ~Diane

  9. Hello, “walk around the house” and “5 minute dates” games that were played by teenagers at birthday parties. They came from a diary from the early 1930’s in Arkansas.
    Does anyone know what these games are?


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