15 Retro Fun Activities

Your kid will love exploring your fave old pastimes (so will you!).

  • Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Party Like It's 1999!

    If your kids woke up in your childhood bed and found themselves having their own Freaky Friday morning, what would they think? Would they laugh at your ideas of fun and fashion, or would they realize that "Hey, life was pretty cool when Mom was young"? We're banking on the latter, so we took a little trip down memory lane to bring you 15 blast-from-the-past activities, games, and projects sure to get your family smiling this weekend. Blossom hats not required!

  • Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Get Physical...Physical!

    Flashback to Free Skate
    Spend a few hours spinning circles to the Top 40 hits at your local roller-skating rink (yes, they still exist). While you spin around (like a record!) under the strobe lights, you'll all get the bonus of a fun cardiovascular, muscle-building workout.

    Get 'NSYNC
    Invite some of your child's friends over, and taking a cue from your favorite girl and boy bands (New Kids on the Block, the Spice Girls ... whatever) choreograph a dance routine to one of the kids' fave current hits. You can even get creative with costumes and stage names

    Put Your Hands on Your Hips
    Say "Hey, Macarena!" Take a quick tutorial on ehow.com, and teach the kids how to master the dance that shook the '90s. Then, request this song at the next family gathering (such as a wedding) and impress all the relatives by taking the lead on the dance floor.

  • Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Laugh Over Family Photos!

    Strike a Pose
    Take an alt-rock family portrait. Deck your brood out as your favorite grunge band, like Nirvana or Pearl Jam. All you need are a few flannel shirts, dirty hair, and a scowl. Then snap a few shots, pretending you're posing for your album cover.

    Reveal Your Passion for Fashion
    Show the kids images of what you used to look and dress like. Explain the significance of Jennifer Aniston's haircut, why heavy boots and overalls were all the rage, and how a guy by the name of Dylan McKay (aka Luke Perry) somehow singlehandedly made sideburns cool.

    Channel Spielberg
    Take a cue from the scene in E.T. where everyone's favorite alien hides in the closet surrounded by stuffed animals. Center your little one among his favorite fuzzy toys and then document the re-creation of this iconic scene with your camera.

  • Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Play Games From The "Olden Days"

    Blow Their Minds
    Introduce the kids to the Rubik's Cube -- and prove that something that costs less than $10 can actually entertain them for hours.

    Make your Own Beanie Babies
    Pick an old stuffed animal (i.e., one that your child can live without), and cut a tiny incision in it. Pull out the stuffing and replace it with plastic pellets, rice, dried beans, or a similar material. Leave some room at the top so that the toy remains pliable. Lastly, sew up the incision and presto -- your very own Beanie Baby.

    Compare High Scores
    Head to an arcade, but only play games that were around 20 years ago. Prove that video games with a simple premise, clean graphics, and memorable characters can actually be as much fun as the ones with all the bells and whistles. There's a reason Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Frogger have remained popular for this long! P.S. You may have to give kids a quick tutorial on how to use a joystick!

  • Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Be American Idols

    Beat It!
    Play freeze dance to the Thriller CD. Invite some of your kids' friends over and tell them to dance around while you play, say, "Billie Jean" or the album's titular song. Every time you stop the music they all have to freeze; anyone moving is out of the game. Keep going until one player remains.

    Want Your MTV
    Host your own lip-sync contest. Watch Milli Vanilli's video for "Blame It on the Rain" for inspiration; then head to lyrics.com and print out the words to '90s favorites (like MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" and Hanson's "MMMBop "). Blast your song selection and let each family member take turns reading off the cue cards. No microphone? Use a hairbrush.

    Teach Them About Pop
    Download "Achy Breaky Heart," and after playing it for your kids, explain that Billy Ray Cyrus used to have an identity beyond just being Miley's dad. Hit a party store for '80s-inspired accessories!

  • Aimee Herring

    Make Awesome Memories Together

    Get Totally Grossed Out
    When the weather warms up, have a little Nickelodeon You Can't Do That on Television party at home. Put on your bathing suits, head out to the backyard, and take turns asking each other trivia questions. Any time one of you answers, "I don't know," the others get to slime you. Check out ycdtotv.com for slime recipes. Or come up with one of your own (for instance, one cup of cooled cooked oatmeal, 1/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of milk, and a few green colored bath tablets dissolved in 1/2 cup of water makes a delightfully sticky, yucky concoction).

    Play the Internet Boom Game
    Everyone in the family gets the opportunity to make up their own website, complete with a domain name and a few details about what their site will offer. Then put it to a vote -- each person writes on a piece of paper which website they like the best. The winning prize: a hug from each family member! (Sorry, no multibillion-dollar buyout -- unless your name is Mark Zuckerberg.)

    Relive the "Dancing Baby" Phenomenon
    Show your kids one of the very first viral video sensations, the "Dancing Baby," made popular, in part, thanks to Ally McBeal. Then everyone in the family has to try to replicate the baby's cha-cha dance. Play Barry White's "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" in the background to help you get in the groove.

    Originally published in the January 2013 issue of Parents magazine.