Recess was a beautiful time to close your books and enjoy the company of your classmates. Like lunch, the length of the day could be discussed at length or cut short with a few fun anecdotes, sometimes in the form of games. P.E. class was another time and place to relieve stress too, whether it was hopscotch, marbles, basketball, volleyball. dodgeball, badminton or flag football. Grab a piece of chalk, some rope to jump over, and reminisce about these 12 playground games you may have played as a kid.
1. Snake in the grass.
The lowly and slower version of old-fashioned tag, Snake in the Grass has someone crawl on the ground and without walking on all fours. I played this game in Catholic school, and our uniforms in elementary school were white, which quickly became a brownish shade of yellow. We did not mind because we were distracted by all the snakes. That is right, once you are tagged, you are not dead, but another snake! Whoever is tagged last becomes the snake for the next round of Snake in the Grass. From fast-paced tagging to high-tension slithering, Snake in the Grass kept you on your toes.
2. Freeze tag.
In this updated game of tag, who ever tags you, freezes you. Those who are still being chased have the chance to unfreeze you. The person who is frozen last becomes the one who freezes in the next round. This game posits a challenge when the playground is concerned. The area of space to run and tag in can keep you running and freezing for a long time, if the playing field is small and the number of players is large. Another thing to expect is frozen adversaries who were frozen next to each other; sometimes they will tag each other to unfreeze themselves instead of waiting for someone on the run to tag them back in. Nevertheless, Freeze Tag puts another fun twist on the original game.
3. Kick the can.
Kick the Can is a slightly more involved game of hide and seek. The person that is "it" will kick the can as far as he or she can. "It" will run towards the can while everyone finds a hiding spot. Once "it" arrives at the can, he or she will counts to 100, shouts out the famous, "ready or not, here I come!" and searches for the other players. The first player found must race "it" back to the can. If the found player kicks the can, the game restarts, if "it" kicks the can, the found player goes to jail or stands by the can. The remaining players can free jailed players if they are not seen by "it" while kicking the can. However, if "it" spots you or calls out you and your hiding spot, you go to jail. The first person caught becomes the next "it" in a new round of Kick the Can once all players are caught. Hide and Seek with more strategy and sly wit, they will never take you alive!
4. Red rover.
One of the more controversial games for its blatant use of brute force, parents and children were advised not to play it. Twenty or so players would split up into teams of two. Each team would line up away from each other arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, and take turns shouting the name of the person they wanted to run towards their team. Like this: "Red Rover, Red Rover, send (person's name) on over!" The person running had to break through the teams clasped arms or chain. Break the chain, the team breaking adds the two players who he or she ran through. If you do not break the chain, you end up on the opposite team. The game ends when all members of a team end up on the opposite side. A girl in our class was injured from a team holding their arms too tightly and Red Rover was banned thereafter. Play with caution.
5. Pickle ball.
To this day, I have never known why my coach in middle school called the game Pickle Ball. I guess it sounds like Wiffle Ball and both use plastic balls with holes in them. Pickle Ball however uses small plastic rackets to play a safer, more calculated game of tennis. Not a bad game to play in P.E. but there were more exciting gym days.
6. Wiffle ball.Wiffle Ball
A classic schoolyard game that only required carnival skills to make a plastic ball fly as high as you could with the swing of a plastic bat. The ball moved fast off a bat but the ball fell terribly slow falling down or when being thrown. Though there was nothing like the sound of a half-empty milk jug being tossed around from a successful swing and hit. Or the temptation of running to the next base as the outfielders waited for the ball to float back down to Earth. Sometimes frustrating, but still good fun.
Kickball is what happens when you combine soccer, baseball, and dodgeball. A round, rubber red ball teases the clever edge of your sneakers and the next thing you know, you are running and hoping you touched the plate. This game moves fast, no matter how the ball rolls. The unpredictable nature of the bounce in rubber keeps the game interesting and exciting. Kickball was a game made just for kicks.
8. Don't touch the lava.
Don't Touch the Lava puts your imagination in the face of danger. Playground equipment was your best friend and the mulch and rubber or whatever surface you decided was a hazard became the lava. Scaling rails, monkey bars, and up slides instead of down them released the daredevil in us. Playing Don't Touch the Lava was like defying the law of gravity, but of course, the lava always got us in the end.
I did not know this growing up, but Handball is a popular sport in Europe. It is like soccer but requires the player to take no more than three or five steps before having to pass the ball or shoot it into the goal. Interceptions are aloud, but they do not have to be caught. A player can knock the ball out of the air tossed by the opposing team and have a ball toss standoff where the ball landed last to throw it back into the game. In P.E. classmates would bounce the ball off the wall to help them cover more ground on the court. Handball was the game that forced you to think on and with your feet.
10. Three ball soccer.
If you thought soccer was boring and way too drawn out, imagine playing it with three soccer balls. It is a game within a game within a game! You never know which ball will be the next score on a goal and neither does the poor goalie. Three Ball Soccer is perfect indoors or outdoors and three times the fun of soccer.
11. Army medic.
Some kids called this game Jailhouse, but my P.E. coach and class called it Army Medic. It is a basic game of dodgeball with the addition of medics who can save you after you have been hit with a ball. If the army medic is hit with a ball, the other army wins the game. The really dangerous part for the Medic was using this flatbed trolley to wheel downed players back to safety. You are always on high alert. One minute you are defending and the next you are attacking. My class always wanted to play this game.
12. Four square.
Without a doubt the king of playground games, Four Square had the most variety of any game we played. The objective of the game was to eliminate someone from their square to move up in their place. You had to use only your hands to bounce the ball into your opponent's quadrant. Some moves we invented for the game kept the game a surprise. Popcorn was a move that allowed the person to bounce the ball back and forth between hands before bouncing the hot potato back into play. Cannonball allowed a player to push the ball down fast to the ground. Whether it was played on chalk-drawn concrete squares or jump rope aligned squares, it was always hip to play Four Square.
The best games came from kids.