If you were a young child in the late 60s, 70s, or early 80s, you know a lot has changed since then. Things that we used to do as kids are nearly unheard of anymore. Whether it’s playing games that no one knows about anymore, eating foods that are questionable, or wearing bizarre clothes – things were just different back then.
Here are 65 photos of kids in the 70s that prove a lot has changed when it comes to having fun.
Things were simpler back then. Kids had to get creative back in the day.
1) Lawn darts
How were lawn darts ever a thing? They’re basically a very large version of the kind of darts you’d see at a bar game. We’re certain numerous kids had to have been injured.
2) Playing Red Rover
We’re sure kids still play this today but it was certainly a staple back in the day. Just careful you don’t get that shoulder ripped out of its socket!
3) Riding bikes with no helmets
For some reason, safety just wasn’t the priority back in the day. Riding bikes without helmets was completely acceptable.
4) No seatbelts either
Seatbelts were also optional back in the day. After all, if you drive safe, who needs them, right? Our logic back then was a bit skewed.
5) Crazy metal play structures
Back in the 70s and 80s, all playground equipment was made with metal. Which got really hot in the sun, so it really wasn’t safe at all. But they sure were creative back then with their playground themes!
6) More funky playground equipment
Here’s another playground from the 70s featuring a couple of see-saws and snail-shaped metal climber.
7) Merry-go-round of terror
Every kid from the 70s remembers recess spent flying around on a metal merry-go-round which could easily send you flying across the yard.
8) Playing freeze tag
Freeze tag was another game that kids would always play back in the day. Now? They’re more interested in watching Frozen.
9) Riding in the bed of a pickup truck
Another thing that was common in the 70s and 80s was hopping in the back of a pickup truck without a care in the world. Seatbelts? Who needs them?
10) Being a latchkey kid
Many parents would work late back in the day and just give their 9-year-old a key to their house to hang out until they got back home. These were called ‘latchkey’ kids and it really just doesn’t happen in today’s world.
11) Red light/Green light
Another classic game that kids used to play decades ago is Red Light/Green Light. Whoever moves on a red light loses!
12) Eating Twinkies
The things our parents thought were okay to eat for lunch have drastically changed over the years. It wouldn’t be strange to see kids munching on Twinkies at lunch.
13) Metal seesaws
Every piece of playground equipment used to be made out of metal. It was hot, dangerous, and made your hands smell gross. Seesaws were included in that bunch.
14) Kick the can
Before the internet and smartphones, kids would play a game called ‘Kick the Can,’ where you would literally…kick a can.
15) Metal slides
Every kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s knows the torture of sliding down an old-school metal slide on an 80-degree day.
16) Dome jungle gym
Another classic playground feature was the metal (of course) dome jungle gym to climb all over.
17) Mother, May I?
“Players in a line try to reach one child who monitors their progress a few steps at a time. In this one, the kids ask for permission to move forward, as in, “Mother, may I move one giant step forward?” “Mother” either says, “Yes, you may,” or “No, you may not, but you may take two small steps instead,” or whatever substitution the “Mother” prefers—baby steps, steps back, etc. If the game is reaching a stalemate with the “Mother” facing the other players (sometimes that player just doesn’t want to let anyone reach the end), try playing with “Mother’s” back turned, so she doesn’t see how close the other players are getting as they take their allowed steps,” describes Mommy Poppins.
We know kids still play hopscotch today but back in the day? It was a daily event.
We don’t know how maypole were ever a thing back in the 60s and 70s. Kids would hold onto the chain or rope, run, then let themselves fly and hope you don’t let go.
20) Tether ball
Tether ball also still exists today but it was most definitely a playground and recess staple for many of us. The side of our palms would be red from hitting the ball so hard.
21) Witch’s Hat
Remember the Witch’s Hat at the playground? If you’re younger than 35, probably not. It was sort of like a merry-go-round but with a bench instead of a platform. Incredibly dangerous.
22) Old-school swings
A classic playground favorite was the swings. Back in the day they were quite simple with rubber seats and chains that would get your fingers stuck.
More and more cities are banning sandboxes on playgrounds because a study found they harbor 2,000 times more bacteria than public door handles. Back in the day? We’d bury ourselves in them.
24) Monkey bars
Monkey bars still exist today but they’re not quite as simple as they once were. And more cities are banning them do to falls and brain injuries.
25) Animal swings
Animal swings were always fun to come across at the playgound. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find them today.
26) Real tire swing
“Tire swings” on today’s playgrounds are usually never made from real tires anymore. But in the 70s, it was straight off a car.
27) Swinging gates
It didn’t take much to entertain kids back in the 70s. How about swinging on a random gate in the middle of a field? Why not?
28) Horse swing set
Vintage playground equipment was pretty darn cute. Like this adorable old-school horse swing set.
29) Climby things
Back in the day, you could pretty much throw up any metal structure at all and we’d play on it. Like this metal climby thing.
30) Metal sliding wall
This wall was fun to climb up and slide down as long as it wasn’t sunny out. Otherwise, you’d burn and blind yourself at the same time.
31) Fun McDonald’s playgrounds
The play area at McDonald’s sure has changed a lot over the decades too. In the 70s and 80s, it was centered around their characters.
32) More spinny things
We were obsessed with getting ourselves crazy dizzy back in the day. Here’s another playground piece of equipment meant for doing just that.
Were you lucky enough to ever play on a Giganta? At nearly 20 feet tall and 4,400 pounds, it was quite the hit.
34) Animal rockers
It was so fun to hop on these metal animals on the playground and rock back and forth as fast as you could. Sometimes you could get the nose to touch the ground!
35) Whatever this thing is
See? More random metal climbing structures. This time? It’s about as random as it an get.
36) Hand-clapping games
Another fun way we’d entertain ourselves back in the day was by simple hand-clapping games. Miss Suzie and Patty Cake are some classics.
37) String games
Another activity we liked to do with our hands was play games with string. Some favorites were Cat’s Cradle and Jacob’s Ladder.
38) Chain climbing walls
And here we have another playground apparatus for climbing. The metail chains would sometimes pinch your fingers, though.
39) The spinning disc
Remember how we said we loved being dizzy back in the 70s and 80s? Here’s more proof of that. You just sat on this thing and let a friend spin you around until you fell off.
40) Concrete pipes
It didn’t take much to keep us entertained back in the day. Heck, just give us a giant concrete pipe and we’re all set!