Ball games

All sorts of ball games can be found on children’s playgrounds. Some games like football and ‘Catch’ have always been very popular, but some, like the difficult ball-bouncing game called ‘Two Ball’ has faded out since it became popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Clapping games

Clapping games continue to resonate across modern-day playgrounds. Although they have an earlier history, these games found real popularity in the 1960s,. They can be employed in a number of situations: to pass time while waiting in line, to play with a large circle of friends, or to keep your hands warm on a cold day. Enticingly, they offer the chance to demonstrate your ability to memorise and enact dazzlingly complicated rhythms and rhymes. The songs vary in complexity, from basic songs to established clapping songs, pop songs, TV shows and actions. The result is a fantastically varied genre of play in a constant state of transition.

Counting out rhymes

Before any game can begin, it is very important for children to choose who will be ‘it’ or ‘on’. There are lots of different rhymes to help children decide this and children are very creative in thinking up new rhymes to use for counting out. Some rhymes you can find are about potatoes, dirty shoes, bubbles, fairy queens, racing cars, white horses, bananas, coconuts, dogs with the flu and cats with the chickenpox! These rhymes are very important to your playground culture and have been used for many years.

Exerting games

Games in which the qualities of most account are physical strength and stamina.

Guessing games

Games in which guessing is a necessary prelude or climax to physical action.

Jokes and rhymes

Playgrounds are full of jokes and rhymes (some of them rude!) Children get their ideas for jokes from many different places: you might learn them from a book, from a friend or you might take a song or rhyme you know and make up your own words for it. Riddles are great games and are often based on tricking people by using clever language.

Playing with things

Objects and toys have always been important to children’s games and play. These ‘playing with things’ objects often come in crazes and might be played with for a while before a new toy becomes popular instead. In the 1970s, for example, children would play with ‘Whip and Tops’ or play a game called ‘Jacks’. Today, children might play with things such as ‘Match Attax’ cards or Bakugan figures.

Pretend play

Pretend play is very popular and can be found on all playgrounds. Children might get their ideas for their games from things they have seen on the television or in films, or from things that are going on in their own lives. For example, we know that in the 1960s when Western films were very popular, children would play games of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ but these days children might play games based on films like Avatar or the Harry Potter series instead.

Running around games

Running around games are very exciting and are well-liked by children. The main sort of chasing game is called ‘tag’ or ‘it’ or ‘tig’. Although other children’s running around games might look the same to yours, everyone is different and each will have its own characters, rules, bases and props.

Singing and dancing

Children have always played dancing and singing games. Far back in history, during the Middle Ages, dancing games were used as courting rituals and boys and girls would use them to meet potential husbands and wives. Today, children just play these games for fun. Many different sorts of singing and dancing games can be found on the playgrounds, some might be quite old like ‘The Big Ship Sailed’ and some are very new and based on children’s favourite pop songs or television shows.

Skipping games

Skipping is an old game and can be traced back to as far as the sixteenth century. When skipping first began, children would use wooden hoops rather than skipping ropes to skip through and it was a game played mainly by boys rather than girls. Today, skipping is mostly played by girls, although boys might like to skip to keep fit.

Please feel free to download a list of books about outdoor games here.