Victorian School Games

Written by lina schofield
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Children in the Victorian era created games around the toys they had access to. Depending on the school environment the games played were different. By the end of the Victorian era, children were mandated to receive some sort of schooling; poorer children went to school outside of the home and upper class children were taught by a governess or nanny in the nursery.

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Hopscotch

Hopscotch was played outside by Victorian children. The hopscotch pattern is drawn out on the ground and a stone is thrown by one of the players into the first box of the hopscotch. If the player misses the box the next player tries to throw the stone into the box. Once a player successfully throws the stone into the box they must jump through the hopscotch and bypass the box that surrounds the stone as they go through the hopscotch. On the way back through, the player must pick up the stone and bring it back to the other players at the beginning of the hopscotch. Turns circulate through players and then the squares in this fashion.

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek was another popular game for children in the Victorian period, and was played both indoors and outdoors. The objective of the game is for one specific player to hunt out and find the hiding players.

The group begins the game by selecting a candidate to seek out the other players. This person then counts to a number that the group has agreed upon. As the "seeker" counts the other players have to find places to hide and get into position so that they cannot be seen by the "seeker." The "seeker" finishes counting and then goes to look for the other players. As the players are found, they become disqualified from playing any further in this round of the game. The last person that is found by the "seeker" becomes the "seeker" in the following round of the game.

Snakes and Ladders

Victorian Snakes and Ladders was based off of the Indian game, Moksha Patamu. The game was designed to teach children to make moral choices based on popular religious ideals at the time of its release in 1892. Ladders connecting the squares depicted good and virtuous deeds rewarding the player with positive results. Snakes linking the squares were used to show evil decisions leading to negative outcomes. Ladders labelled Penitence, Industry and Thrift reached to squares labelled Success, Fulfillment, and Grace. Snakes were called Disobedience, Indulgence and Indolence with squares like Illness, Disgrace and Poverty.

Blind Man's Bluff

Blind Man's Bluff was played outdoors. One child is selected to be blindfolded and spun around in circles. Another child then gently pushes the blindfolded child forward to signal the start of the game. The objective of the blindfolded child is to capture and identify someone. The objective for the other players is to avoid being caught. After someone has been caught and identified, they take the next turn as the blindfolded individual.

Marbles

Marbles games can be played with any small round objects. In the Victorian period, one of the most popular marble games was known as "Ring Taw." The players create a circle on the ground with a string or by drawing in sand. The marbles or "nibs" were then set inside the circle and the players took turns tossing a larger marble or "shooter" into the circle, attempting to knock marbles out of the circle. After each turn, the player collected the marbles or "nibs" they knocked outside of the ring and the players continued play until all of the marbles had been collected. The objective was to collect the most marbles.

Skipping Rope

Rhymes were often sung by children as they played the Victorian equivalent of skipping rope, which they called skipping rope. Children would stand apart, holding each end of the rope and swinging it around repeatedly at the same time. Younger children would begin learning to play this game by starting with the rope on the ground as opposed to swinging. The rhymes helped the children swinging the rope know when to turn and helped the child jumping know when to jump. The rope is moved back and forth along the ground and the children say "Blue bells, cockle shells. Easy ivy over." The rope is then turned on the word "over."

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