October 20, 2009

childhood memories – playground games

school_photo There were, of course, countless complicated imaginary play games, but these are the traditional playground games that I most enjoyed and remember (between, I would say, ages 7 and 12) …
  • hopscotch
  • jump rope – Do you remember these tricks – peppers, figure eight, double unders? And skipping on the long rope with rhymes. I especially remember a pretty Little Dutch girl and 24 robbers.
  • clapping patterns – There are some rhymes for these at Games Kids Play, I can remember using Miss Mary Mack. You would clap your hands for Miss. Then clap both partner’s hands for Ma, clap your hands for ry and then clap partner’s hands again three times for Mack, Mack, Mack. Repeat for each line
  • handball and 4-square (we always played with a tennis ball)
  • British Bulldog – in case you don’t know this game, one or two players stand in the middle of the field (the bulldogs), everyone else trys to run to the other side of the field without getting tagged. If you are tagged, you become a bulldog. I laughed about these comments on wikipedia because it is exactly how I remember it – we loved the game but the parents and teachers hated it and tried to ban it.
    • “Parents tend to deplore the game since it results in muddied and even torn clothes, bruises, bloody noses, knees and elbows and sometimes tears (when played on tarmac) but both boys and girls participate in it … As a game of physical contact that results in a mêlée of people attempting to drag others down to the ground, Bullrush bears some similarity to a rugby scrum which may explain the presence of the game amongst children in a nation beloved of the sport of rugby. The game when played in Australia tends to be particularly rough, with the version known as Pile-ons being common. However, hard contact sports are very popular in that country, constituting a number of national sports, and very rough play is considered a normal and healthy part of childhood in Australian culture. Softer versions that only involve touching runners such as tag bulldog are generally treated with contempt in Australia, being regarded as a wimpy version of the "real" game.”
  • handstand and cartwheel competitions
  • Stuck in the Mud
  • elastics (apparently it is also called Chinese jump rope) We used to play with this rhyme “England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, inside, outside, inside, tails” jump to straddle left side of rope (England), then jump to right side (Ireland), then left (Scotland) then right (Wales), then both feet inside, both feet outside - straddling both sides of the elastic, inside again and finally feet on both pieces of elastic (tails). The elastic would start at the holder’s ankles (2 holders stretch the elastics around their ankles to make a rectangle to jump in) and move up for each correctly completed sequence to knees, hips, armpits and neck.
  • French cricket
  • cat’s cradle
  • origami. There are instructions for simple animals and things that we used to make on Activity Village.
  • making friendship bracelets
What playground games do you most remember? Have you taught any of them to your children?


DEBI said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun on the playground as a kid! I especially enjoyed hopscotch & jump rope, plus the occasional game of kickball. Sometimes I think it would be fun to play those games as an adult! :)

balmeras said...

I love old school games like Ghost in the Graveyard, Sardines, tether ball, and a zillion others. Play is so important! I write a lot about play:

Cheers- Bethe @balmeras

Nancy Heltman said...

We played red light/green light and statues.

Marghanita said...

I loved playing British Bulldogs with my brothers and all their friends. I'm just back in from playing ball with my youngest - keeps me young! So many games you can play with a ball.

Look forward to reading more of your posts.

Marghanita Hughes -www.littlehumbugs
Connecting kids to nature.

Your Therapy Source said...

We played Starlight, Starbright (a reverse hide and go seek) at night. My children love to play hide and go seek with base, four square, capture (basically create a fort location and bring the most outdoor toys to your fort), tag and of course SPUD!

Blog on sensory motor activities at

CatWay said...

Oh yeah, so many more great games - I remember red light, green light, tag (of course), statues, sardines. But balmeras you'll have to tell me more about Ghost in the Graveyard? I don't know that one.
And you've got me thinking more, what about Murder in the Dark - not a school game of course, but for sleepovers we played this all the time.