The hula hoop rotated into American hearts in 1958. It became an immediate hit with Americans young and old with around 25 million hula hoops selling in the toy’s first four months of existence. Wham-O co-founders Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin (who patented it) set out to market the plastic hoop after learning about Australian children having fun with wooden hoops in gym classes.
Wham-O was responsible for another toy that made a big splash: The Frisbee toy. Hula hoops are considered to be a 1950s fad, but unlike coonskin caps, soda shops, and sock hops, hula hoops stepped out of the limelight but never really faded away. Hula hoops are not hard to find in toy and dollar stores. Kids still use the hip-swiveling circle toy in gym classes and backyards.
There’s a reason hula hoops have stood the test of time. They are fun and give the user a pretty good core workout. The budget-friendly hula hoop is also an innovative toy with a lot of other uses, making it a handy thing to have a few of in the garage, especially when you’re trying to get kids to power down. Here are 10 cool games to get children (and adults) up and playing.
You don’t need to watch Elvis on YouTube to figure out how to use a hula hoop, but be forewarned it isn’t as easy as it looks. Put on some music, grab some hula hoops, and see how many times you can keep it rotating around your waist. Adults can get into the act, too. Hula hoop workouts are actually a thing.
Think hopscotch without marking up the driveway or sidewalk with chalk. All you need are 12 hula hoops and the space to set them up in the traditional hopscotch format. Backyards, front lawns, and gym floors are perfect.
Children of all ages love tag, but moms and dads never appreciate being home base. When a game of tag breaks out, set up two hula hoops to use as home bases. When a child is inside the hoop, he or she is on base.
Put down a couple of hula hoops and grab a few bean bags, and you have made a simple party game for younger kids. Children can take turns tossing the bean bags into the hula hoops. To make it more challenging, have the person tossing move farther back, or place targets like cones or water bottles for players to aim at.
Hula hoops have been swiveled on arms and legs as well as hips. So you can certainly use it in place of a jump rope and do hula jumps. It’s a good idea to try hoop jumping on grass just in case someone trips — it provides a softer landing. This is a good cardio exercise for moms and dads, too.
Setting up a backyard obstacle course for a party or to keep the kids busy on a summer afternoon is an easy and a fun way to get kids active. Hula hoops can be easily set up for kids to crawl, jump, or run through. Add in some pool noodles, and you will have a cool obstacle course the kiddos will enjoy.
If your future Carli Lloyd or Sidney Crosby needs target practice for his or her next soccer or hockey game, tie a hula hoop to a soccer or hockey goal. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to help budding sports stars work on their aim.
Hoop Catch is also known as Up High. This game should always be played outside, and be sure there is enough space. The object is to toss the hula hoop in the air as high as you can and then catch it before it hits the ground. Always have kids take turns toss the hula hoop in the air to avoid collisions.
This game has really stood the test of time. It dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks. All you need to play is a stick and a hula hoop. The object is to place a hula hoop upright and roll it along using a stick to see who can go the farthest. Kids can also use their hands. To challenge kids, set a start and an end line. Or develop a simple hoop rolling obstacle course. If the hoop falls, just pick it up and keep on going.
A perfect party game, Pass the Hoop is ideal for larger groups. Place everyone in a circle. All the participants hold hands. One hula hoop is placed over a player’s arm to get the game going. Then, the hula hoop must be passed around the circle without letting go of each other’s hands.
Hula hoops made a big splash back in the late ’50s, but they proved to have staying power. Wham-O may have marketed the first plastic hula hoop in 1958, but the idea dates back centuries. There are so many fun ways to use a hula hoop — so get playing!
Need more inspiration? Check our guide on themed party games for sports-loving kids.
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