Playground games from yesteryear can be still heard in playgrounds up and down the land. Why is that ? Who teaches them? Who documents them ? Who monitors the rules and adjusts them as each generation goes by? The answer is, the children.
The playground games only survive because the children love them regardless of what the latest political correctness dictat might be, no running in playgrounds, no ball games, no physical contact- the children find a way around all of these rules because they have a natural desire to run around and have fun! The popularity of these playground games down the decades is a testament to this.
If you walk past a playground at playtime it is heart warming to hear the childhood chanting ‘Red Rover’or ‘Queenie Queenie Who’s Got The Ball?’ and whilst some rules might be different these are essentially the same games passed down from year group to year group through the generations.The following games can be seen down through the generations in one form or another with occasional regional and generational variations.
- Farmers in The Den.
- Double Dutch.
- Forty Forty.
“Queenie, Queenie who’s got the ball?Are they short, or are they tall?Are they hairy, or are they bald? You don’t know because you don’t have the ball!” a well known chanting ball game.
It seems when this traditional unspoken heritage is investigated, it appears that rules in schools are seemingly diminishing the enjoyment in the name of safety. But can we ever truly protect our children 100 percent from everyday scrapes and bruises. Or is it getting those scrapes and bruises that does in fact teach them a lot more. Schools have the tricky position to balance this with their responsibility to look after the pupils safety but surely a modicum of common sense should intervene, so games like ‘Tag’ , ‘British Bulldog’ and ‘Red Rover’ can survive and thrive.
It seems a curious phenomenon that these games are never taught by adults but are just passed down from year to year in school playgrounds up and down the land. They almost exist despite changes in society and attitudes .
Other playground games such a clapping songs and skipping games also seem to get passed down through the ages and change and morph with the times but at core the lineage can be traced back over decades. How many variants are there of ‘A Sailor Went To Sea Sea Sea’? ‘One, Two, Three O’Leary’ etc.
Sadly, it seems that games like, penny up the wall, conkers, jacks, top and whip and marbles are quickly fading if not completely gone from school yards across the land.
It seems that the modern age will have to try a lot harder if it is ever going to succeed in eradicating the primal urge for our nations children to simply run around and have fun.