School Games in the '40s

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The 1940s were a decade before computers, cell phones, video games and television. Life was much simpler. Many children did everything within the confines of a few blocks and attended local neighbourhood schools. The schoolyard was the focus of unreleased energy and simple games.

Even though girls and boys usually attended school together, the sexes were sometimes separated into different spots on the playground.

Girl Games

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Some of the games girls participated in have made their way into the 21st century including skipping rope, hopscotch, tag and jacks. Red Rover was played between two teams holding hands. Each team would shout out the name of someone on the other team, and it became that child's goal to break through the chain of interlocked hands. If they were successful, the girl picked someone from the opposing team to join hers. If she could not break through, she remained on the opposing side. The team lost that ended up without any players.

Boy Games

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Many boys used the playground to work out their frustration with each other by fighting. When boys were not trying to settle disputes through hand-to-hand combat, they participated in imaginary fights and played Army or Cops and Robbers. Both were played pretty much the same. Pretend you are shooting at each other and fall down "dead." Marbles and playing with a Slinky were more subdued games.

Games Using Balls

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Two classic games used balls during the 1940s. Both games consisted of two teams and used a red rubber ball, about 35cm (14 inches) in diameter. Kickball was similar to baseball, except rather than hitting the ball with a bat, a player attempted to kick the ball and run around the bases. The goal was to have as many children as possible make it "home" and score a point. Two teams lined up against each other in Dodgeball. Each team would take turns throwing the ball at a member of the opposite team. If the ball hit a player, he was "out" and had to sit out of the game. However, if the opposing player caught the ball, the player who threw the ball was out.

Hand Clapping Games

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Hand clapping games were played between two children. Each child stood across from the other child. Both partners clapped their hands at the same time and recited a rhyme such as "Miss Mary Mack" or "A Sailor Went to Sea." The game involved four steps. First each child clapped her hands together. Next both children reached out and clapped their right hands together, followed by clapping their hands together again. Finally, they reached out and clapped their left hands together. The steps were repeated until they finished reciting the rhyme. Variations could be added or subtracted depending on the rhyme.