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Here are 21 exciting childhood activities from an earlier, simpler time before the internet that will be as much, if not more fun even for today’s children.
If we had a time machine, we could re-visit our childhood we wish had never ended; when life was an adventure and a continuous exploration. Without computers, internet, or mobile phone, one would think that life was boring in those times. On the contrary, there was never a dull moment.
After returning from school and finishing homework, evenings and weekends were spent playing numerous outdoor and indoor games with friends and siblings, preparing for a school exam or pursuing numerous hobbies. T.V telecast hours were limited but extremely entertaining even with only one channel to choose from. Watching Hindi movies in cinemas halls was a treat!
So, what where some of those innovative things we did to amuse ourselves without relying on either technology or our parents for entertainment? Get together with your children, nieces or nephews, and enjoy doing some of these fun things.
1.Making paper boats-On rainy days, children took joy in making paper boats out of newspaper or notebooks, watched them sail and flow along rain water.
2.Climbing trees-Raw mangoes, guavas, and other fruit were plucked by climbing the trees. These were eaten sitting on the tree branches.
3.Building card towers– Old pack of cards were shakily stacked on top of each other. Sometimes they used to collapse and one had to start all over again. With patience and deft hands a card tower was completed.
4.Playing house– One of the most favorite activities for girls was playing house and setting up a toy kitchen. Plastic or stainless steel toy utensils like cups and saucers, a pressure cooker, assorted spoons, pots and pans were neatly organized. Peanuts, jaggery and coconut pieces obtained from the house kitchen were kept aside on little plates to munch. At times, the jaggery was mixed with water, stirred and served as tea. The ‘shopping’ was done in the garden by plucking leaves. Using bottle crowns, chapattis were stamped out from the leaves.
5.Sneaking tamarind and pickle– Often, when adults had their afternoon nap, children tiptoed to the kitchen, and slip their little hands into tamarind containers or mouth-watering homemade pickles kept in huge glass jars. They would grab a little, and devour it in hiding.
6.Dressing up –Hair extension and hair net borrowed from grandma were attached to hair, a bindi was stuck in the centre of the forehead, smudged lipsticks were applied. Saris borrowed from mothers were draped in the best possible way and then show off to everyone. At times, even bed sheets or bed covers were used as saris amid a lot of giggling.
7.Play acting– Any vacant room was uses for rehearsals of song, dance, and scenes from Hindi films. A bed spread was put up as a stage curtain and scenes were acted before a home audience to immense laughter.
8.Listening to stories– After dinner, some members of the family, along with children and neighboring kids got together either outdoors on a ground sheet or huddled cozily indoors with blankets for storytelling. One of the elders narrated real life stories or even spooky ghost tales. These were frightening and spellbinding .No one moved. Nobody could ever get enough of these fascinating tales.
9.Playing ghost – Shouting ghost or covering up in a white bed sheet to look like one and scaring each other were some of pranks played on each other. There was excitement, screaming, frantic scampering, and lots of nervous laughter.
10.Sharing meals– Hot, lip smacking food was shared with family and friends by picnicking outdoors under a tree. At times, green chillies were plucked from the garden to eat along with the meal. One exceptional activity we did was sipping nectar from the hibiscus flower after mealtime. Taking food to the house terrace and having dinner together under the beautiful night sky was also very common.
11.Building doll houses-Doll houses were as popular as they are today. Doll houses weren’t easily available. Children took absolute delight and built one mostly out of an old television storage box. Door and window shapes were cut out on the box. Windowpanes were made out of plastic sheet. Old gift wrappers were glued on the interiors to make it appear like wall paper. Uprooted plants and flowers were stuck on a cardboard base around the house for a garden. A small container was filled with water for a swimming pool. Grown-ups lent a hand to make balconies and terraces. Handmade furniture (which gave a cozy ambiance) was placed inside. A light bulb was let in from the roof of the box to light up the house. These houses were played with until they lasted and gave endless hours of fun and enjoyment.
12.Building a tent – Children who were fascinated by tents or having their own home would place two walking canes (borrowed from grandparents) parallel to each other underneath bed mattresses. A bed sheet covered up the canes. A tent was all set to play underneath.
13.Making a doll cradle – An old chair was put upside down and cords were fastened on the chair legs. A cushion was slung on these cords to make a cradle. Dolls were put on this cradle and were rocked back and forth.
14.Making play cars & play telephones – Old, discarded shoe boxes and match boxes were used to make these. One surface of the shoe box was drawn open. A twine was fastened to drag. Toys were placed within and dragged around the house for a joyride. Empty matchboxes too were lugged around as small cars. Play telephones were also made from used, bare match boxes and rubber bands. A plain white paper was stuck on the surface. A dial and numbers were marked on it and the matchbox phone was all set. All it needed was one afternoon’s craft time.
15.Making a play camera– Using cardboard, glue and other craft material a small box was made. On one side of the box little symbols were marked to look like camera buttons. Pre-sketched pictures were kept inside the box. Loved ones were requested to pose. Instant pictures were given to them.
16.Making play paper coins – Paper coins were made by placing various denominations of coins underneath a paper. With pencil shading above the paper impression of coins were made. These were cut out and used in games.
17.Making a teddy bear– Just like doll houses, it was a joy to make a teddy bear at home. A moderately thick cloth was outlined in shape of a teddy bear. It was cut and stuffed with plenty of old cloth and stitched together to make a rag teddy bear..
18.Having pretend friends-Some children had make-believe friends. They imagined what they looked like, named them, sketched their pictures, and chattered endlessly with these pretend friends.
19.Powder skating-One unusual way of ‘skating’ was by liberally sprinkling talcum powder on the floor. We slid on the slippery surface and had a merry time.
20.Forming secret clubs– A lot of children were Enid Blyton fans and were inspired by her stories. They had their own club with secret get-together & passwords. The ‘P’ language which has long been in existence was used to talk secretly. Sharing food and drink, going on make-believe treasure trails were all part of these meetings.
21.Watching ants –Any food crumbs, sugar crystals, sweets, dead flies or cockroaches would immediately attract ants that would carry this ‘delicacy’ to their homes in the crevices of walls. Sometimes it would take hours of hard work and patience for these ants to push and pull their ‘feast’ along. This would catch our fancy and we did not like to miss a second. We would cheer the ants, and watched them unceasingly.
Those were unforgettable times. With our creativity and imagination, time stood still.
What made you happy as a kid? Was it swinging on the garden gate, bursting rain water bubbles on gate grills or buying sweets and toffees with ten and twenty paisa coins? Did writing on inland letters/ aerogramme, waiting for the postman’s arrival, placing trunk calls (on black dial phones) and waiting in anticipation to get connected certainly excite you? Or was it awaiting,borrowing and reading your favourite Indian comics (Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle)?
Whether it was huddling together and enthusiastically watching black and white T.V programmes and advertisement with family/neighbors, the daily news (and guessing who the news reader would be!) or enjoying a game of hopscotch/ chor police/ making your own doctor set. Whatever you enjoyed doing I would definitely love to know! I am sure you have plenty more to add to my list of 21 things.
“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind”-Patrick Rothfuss
Image source: children playing in sunset by Shutterstock.
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