When I was 5 I distinctly remember I hated my mother whenever she would shout my name out the window(the available communication form at the time, since 5 year old did not own cellphones at that time), which meant it was too late for me to keep on playing. My body mindlessly wandered back home while every other part of me wanted to run back and keep on skipping, running, climbing trees or just hang out with my friends in that place where souls were free and friendships lasted forever. Sadly children nowadays do not experience these bonds as entertainment possibilities have changes in such a way that they mostly exclude both the outdoors and social behavior: television, PC and Video games are the obvious choice for our youngsters and it seems games that have brought joy to our hearts when we were their age will die a slow and unacknowledged death.
It may seem that some chalk lines, rock and some skipping around would not be enough to entertain kids, but when it comes to this game, it has kept children on their toes since the late 17th Century when it was first recorded. This was my favorite game while growing up, and it wasn’t long until we invented other types of games which started from this one. For example we would draw a snail form on the ground, and jump in circles from the exterior to the middle.
Cops and Robbers
A wonderful make-believe game where children would split up into two teams and after by-passing the not-so-small decision of who has the gun, they would re-enact this western good-guy/bad-guy story. No one actually won as rules were established as the game went along but the adrenalin rush, the laughing and running were more than enough.
This is a more static game where elastic string is looped together in a predefined way most of us found tricky at young ages – the charm lies in correctly following the sequence again and again, and in all honesty, I sometimes still turn to my sister with a string and a subtle smile because she loves the game as much as I do.
This ever evolving group of games involves either predefined rhymes or new riddles that are rhythmically spoken while clapping each other’s hands was also able to keep kids busy for hours.
No list would be complete without this seemingly non-interesting game. The game involves drawing circles in the sand and trying to knock out other players’ marbles out of this circle. Winners would of course be entitled to trade them with the loser.
Ring around the Rosie
This is a nursery rhyme and a playground singing game, although it is mostly played by small children, whose origin has been associated with the Great Plague and which involves dancing in a circle and falling down as loudly as possible.
Tug of War
The rules are pretty straightforward: two teams, one rope and tugging as hard as you can- the game comes along with a lot of yelling, laughing, some bruises and ultimately one of the two teams collapsing in a heap.
Another game that originates in English late sixteenth century, Leap Frog involves vaulting over each other’s stooped back and while the idea seems simple, the odds are enormous: it takes courage and proper judgement as getting it wrong would mean that you end up collapsing or knocking your mate down.
Although not a game in itself it would be impossible to speak about childhood games without involving trees. There was nothing better than getting lost in the biggest, greenest tree you could find or challenging your friends to climb as high as you can: great odds since parents would generally become quite upset with those of us they found 10 meters high on the thinnest branch they could see. We never seemed to mind though.
Hard training, contests, tournaments- all of it, possible with just a humble piece of rope. Young girls would take turns in skipping as much as possible, while making it as complicated as possible, looping the rope, jumping on one foot, double jumping- the possibilities are never-ending. There would be a skip-rope queen, daily challenges, but it seemed there would never be a loser, something that kept children always coming back.