09 March 2011

Childhood Games, or, Kids These Days!

Last night we were meant to be playing board games with the young women at church, but they forgot to bring anything, so I suggested we play games that don't require equipment--school yard games.  They were baffled by this.  They know very few games.  They came up with Duck, Duck, Goose and one of them knew how to play Red Rover.

I was astounded, but Steve wasn't surprised that the girls were unfamiliar with the games I know.  His PhD supervisor wrote a paper about childhood games and how they're passed from child to child and how similar games are developed independently across cultures.  One of the points of the paper was that the current generation is losing the ability to play outside in a way that's not structured by adults.  They're not learning games, often because they're not outside at all.

I picked up this book for free in Halifax.  It's a 683-page collection of games for school and home. It was first published in 1909 (revised in 1937) and it includes active and quiet games for all the traditional favorites (10 pages on hopscotch) as well as older games I've never heard of like The Minister's Cat and Baste the Bear.  Each entry indicates the number of players required and an age designation. I love it so much.

These are the games I always thought everyone knew (they make up the school yard canon):
  • Hide and Seek
  • Red Rover
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Mother, May I
  • Sharks and Minnows
  • Charades

 And probably these too, if you like games at all:
  • Flying Dutchman (Partner Tag)
  • Telephone Charades
  • Oink, Piggy, Oink (Honey, If You Love Me Smile for the older crowd)
  • Sardines
  • Freeze Tag
  • 4 Corners
  • Do You Love Your Neighbor?/Fruit Basket

Did I leave off any favorites?


    HAH said...

    Kick the can
    Capture the flag
    (not school yard games, but we played them in my neighborhood)

    Anonymous said...

    Kissing rugby, king of the castle, grounders,
    and all of those fabulous jumprope games.

    Ann-Marie said...

    I was playing Red Light, Green Light with some of my pseudo-nephews a few weeks ago. It was so much fun!

    MBC said...

    HAH--Oh, there was a lot of capture the flag in my childhood.

    Meg--We played kissing rugby but I dont' know what grounders is (maybe we call it something else, though).

    Ann-Marie--It is fun!

    Anonymous said...

    "Grounders" is played on the schoolyard equipment. One person is selected to be "it" and must stay on the ground at all times and attempt to tag the others as they climb and run around on the equipment. If anyone is caught with a foot on the ground "it" can call out "grounders!" and then that person has been caught.

    Lots of fun!

    ldsjaneite said...

    When I did Boys & Girls Club as a counselor, they told us how so many kids had to be taught these games because they weren't learning them. I kept my back-pocket games brochure for possible teen library program ideas. Who'd have thought all the things we did growing up would be so novel (ha ha--library pun!) to them.

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