Saturday Night Nostalgia: Remember the games of the old schoolyard

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like all that long ago that we were at school. There was a certain sense of

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like all that long ago that we were at school. There was a certain sense of joy that came when the bell rang signally time for lunch. How many of us charged from the classroom out into the playground with our friends, embracing that little bit of freedom from all that indoor learning?

During the week, we asked you what your favourite schoolyard games were. We got lots of responses and we collected this information to put together what the most popular schoolyard games were according to you.

For tonight’s Saturday Night Nostalgia we take a look back at the schoolyard games you played growing up. Read on and see if your schoolyard favourite made the list.

It didn’t matter if you jumped solo, with a friend or with a whole group of classmates, everyone enjoyed a skipping rope game. Skipping was serious business, it wasn’t enough to clear the jump, we needed to include double jumps, twirls and hops from one foot to the other. Those of us clever enough to jump double Dutch — two ropes being swung at the one time by a couple of enthusiastic rope turners — were the real masters of skipping!

Who’s got a skipping rope rhyme to share?

Who knew we could have as much fun as we did with a long piece of elastic tied up at the ends, just be sure not to use Mum’s special dressmaker’s elastic… Girls would laugh uncontrollably trying to jump over, under and in between the elastic stretched out between the legs of two friends. “England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales…” could be heard around the schoolyard, and as the elastic got higher it was only a matter of time before someone suffered an injury.

Groups would huddle and cluster over the tiny glass balls in what were quite serious games of marbles. Reputations — and the marbles themselves — were at stake, with prized collections often swapped between losers and winners. It’s a game that has stood the test of time, and while there were some straightforward rules, these were often bent and shaped to suit those playing.

Grab your bat and ball and head out onto the oval for a game of rounders. It might have got its start in 17th century England, but this game — a sort of cross between cricket and softball — was certainly popular in the schoolyard when we were growing up. To score points (rounders) the batting team needed to have one of its players complete a circuit of the four bases without being put ‘out’.

We’d line up to play hopscotch, taking turns to toss the stone or other small object onto the numbered spaces outlined on the playground. Jumping through the spaces we’d retrieve the stone on the turnaround and handover for the next person.

Some called it jacks, some called it knucklebones, but we all enjoyed trying to complete that series of throws and pick ups in order to be crowned the winner. Do you remember ‘riding the elephant’ or ‘horses in the stable’?

Other playground games to get remembered favourably included Kick the Can, Statues, Brandy and Drop the Hankie.

Is there a game we missed? Tell us your favourite schoolyard game in the comments. What stories do you have from your schoolyard days?

  1. I loved playing gutter ball. bouncing a ball into the side of the gutter and catching it. Used to play it every day and all the kids would be playing along the length of the gutter.

  2. Denise Mahoney  

    There was also “knucle bones similiar to jacks. What’s the time Mr Wolfe, Hide and Seek, Oanges and Lemons, Cowboys and Indians, London Bridge is falling down. Oh my memories. Hopstoch played a lot, plus skipping and elestics. Oh remember haula hoops?

  3. Jenny  

    And then there was stocking ball. An old tennis ball in an old nylon stocking and you stood back to a wall and swung the ball around you, without touching the body, to various chants similar to skipping ones. The best players were those who went fast and could get the ball close to their body.

  4. Denise Mahoney  

    Oh forgot hand palm slapping game saying rhyme faster each time. It would take two of you one would say rhyme then slap hand of opposit right to left then left to right sometimes straight palm to palm. One rhyme was A sailor went to sea sea sea to see what he could see see see all that he could see see see was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea getting faster each time till you mucked up. Anyone remember this?

  5. Frank  

    hula hoops and cartwheels – sort out who can and who can’t

    hula hoops I could never work so always marvel at those who can

    cartwheels suits a certain age and body type – some can flip five in a row – others never will

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