Old-Time Children's Games

Written by luc braybury
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Old-Time Children's Games
Many childrens games from years past remain popular today. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Some children's games have always been informal and simple, using materials available to unsupervised children. Most traditional children's games are played without adult organisation relying solely on the participating players to make and enforce the rules of the games. While many old-time children's games such as skipping rope, sack races and hopscotch are familiar to most people, there remain many lesser known games that were popular in times past.

Duck on the Rock

This game was designed to play with beanbags and a large rock on a dirt road. The large rock is placed some distance away from the players and each player is assigned a bean bag. One player's bean bag, called the duck, is placed on the large rock. A line is drawn on the ground away from the rock and everyone stands behind it. The remaining players throw beanbags at the duck to knock it off the rock. When it falls, everyone who threw their beanbag runs to retrieve it before the duck's owner replaces it on the rock. Once the duck is placed back on the rock, its owner tries to catch another player and tag them before all of the players retrieve their beanbags and return to the line. Whoever is tagged then places his or her duck on the rock and the game is repeated.

Fox and Geese

The shape of a large wagon wheel is drawn on the ground with chalk. A player, called the fox, stands in the centre of the wheel while the other players, the geese, line up around the edge of the wheel. At a signal, the fox chases the geese along the pattern of the rim of the wheel and spokes. The goose caught by the fox becomes the new fox.

Feather Game

Players begin the game by first sitting in a circle. A non-player then drops a feather from above their heads. The goal of the game is to keep the feather afloat by blowing up at it. Once the feather touches the ground the game ends.

Rock Tag

Each player chooses a rock to be his or her "base" and one player is designated as "it." Once the game begins, all of the players leave their bases and run to another base, with only one player per base. The player who is "it" chases the others and tries to catch someone between bases. If a player is caught, they become "it" and the process is repeated.

Potato Race

This is a team game where players work in pairs. Each team has a bucket full of an equal number of potatoes. The buckets are placed at the starting line. When the race begins, one player from each team takes a potato from the team's bucket and runs 8 to 10 feet to a spot marked on the ground where they place the potato down. That player then gets another potato and places it at a marked spot farther along, again and again until there's a marked place for each potato in the bucket. Each partner then runs to the first potato and returns it to the bucket, then the second one, etc. Whichever team returns all of their potatoes to their bucket first wins.

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