Looking for a new way to keep the kids entertained at home (or, more likely, a way to burn off some of their seemingly boundless energy)? It’s time to bring back the old playground classic, Jump the River.

Don’t remember how to play this physically and mentally stimulating game? We’ll give you a refresher.

Photo Credit: Pexels

All you need are two sticks or something else to create two parallel lines — a handful of rocks placed in a row, two bits of string, sidewalk chalk, tape, etc.

  • Place the sticks a short distance apart from one another (a few feet should do the trick to get started).
  • Then, tell your kids a story about a tumultuous river or a stream of lava that they must safely cross.
  • One by one, point to each child to indicate that it’s his time to jump over the river. They must land safely on the other side, or they’ll get swept away by the current (or whatever fits into your whimsical story!).
  • If someone jumps and fails to get both feet to the other side, they’re eliminated from the game.
  • Keep playing, widening the distance between the sticks each time the entire group has finished jumping.
  • Eventually, when just one boy or girl is left standing, you’ll be able to crown a winner.
  • Be sure to complete your fictional narrative about the brave adventurer who managed to safely jump over the widest river or lava stream and complete their epic journey. And maybe reward the victor with a snack.

You can tailor the game to help kids improve certain skills like balance and agility. For example, you can require kids to land on just one foot while keeping the other in the air, which really tests their balancing abilities. Or, consider jumping off one foot and landing on the other foot. The options are pretty limitless.

Even older kids like to get in on the action, provided the game is challenging enough:

Sometimes the best games are those that don’t require any technology, involve a great yarn and tucker kids out all at the same time. Jump the River does just that, so be sure to add it to your roster of kid-friendly games for the next time your crew gets bored.

You might even find yourself with a burgeoning long jumper on your hands, like this little girl:

What was your favorite game to play on the playground or in PE class as a kid? Have you tried teaching any of these games to your children?

Let us know the answer to both questions in the comments!

We love a good dose of nostalgia.