Playground Games from our childhood

Today’s guest blog post is from Rachel McClary who is an Early Education Consultant and Mother to 3 girls aged 8, 4 and 2. She blogs at right from the start. Her guest post for Netmums is about teaching her children her favourite playground games from her own childhood. Read on to see which ones you remember and some great ideas to teach your children…


At the beginning of July all of our worldly goods were packed onto a container to make the journey to our new home in the US.  We wouldn’t see them again for 10 weeks.
The children packed a small case each with colouring pencils, paper, a few books and a cuddly toy. They were without any other toys for the whole of the summer.
This was an amazing opportunity to be creative with things around the house.  We decorated pistachio nut shells, made pictures with coffee filters, built a mud kitchen and hosted our own Children’s Olympics. In some ways I wished it could be like this all of the time and now that the toys have arrived I have been selective about what I have unpacked.

The most popular activity however, was learning playground games from my childhood. I explained that as a child I didn’t have equipment or toys in my school playground. We played our own games which we would also play in the street at home.  I am very conscious that if we don’t pass games down to our children they may be lost forever and I’m glad that our lack of toys gave me an opportunity to resurrect them.

There has been concern for some time that children no longer play outside. The good old British weather doesn’t help. Couple this with the constant lure of TV and electronic media and it can be hard to get kids outdoors.

If you ask an adult what their most vivid childhood memory is, most will say something that involves being outside with other children and no adult supervision. This type of experience is being lost in modern childhood but sometimes the simplest things can bring them out again. I recently bought a cheap second-hand sand pit and all 3 of my children have had hours of fun and never once asked ‘Mummy can you play with us’.

I was interested therefore, when I saw a recent thread on Netmums Coffee House Chat entitled Childhood Games. After seeing how much my children enjoyed traditional games I was intrigued to see if any other parents remembered games from their childhood.
We played some of the more popular games; hopscotch on the driveway, skipping rhymes, What’s the time Mr Wolf but also some less well known games.


This was my kids’ favourite.

One child is ‘It’ and stands at one end of the garden (as kids we used to play ‘It’ in the road and run to the other side of the street).

They call out a category to the other players on the other side of the garden such as animals or colours.

Each player quietly chooses something from that category and a nominated player calls them out – let’s say dog, pig and cow.

The player who is ‘It’ chooses one, e.g. ’dog’ and the player who is ‘dog‘ races them  across to the other side and back.

The first player back to their place shouts ‘polo’ and is ‘It’ the next time.

Red Letter

One child is ‘It’ and the other children stand at the opposite side of the playground.

The person who is ‘It’ chooses a red letter and tells the players what it is.

She then calls out a letter – the players take one step for each time that letter occurs in their name.

The first player to get to the caller is ‘It’ the next time.

If the caller calls the red letter, she chases all the players back to the start, if one is caught then they are ‘It’.

The person who is ‘It’ stands with their back to the other players.

The other players stand on the opposite side of the garden and edge closer to the person who is ‘It’.

The person who is ‘It’ turns around at intervals.

The players freeze when she turns around. If they are caught moving they go back to the start.

If anyone reaches the other side, they touch the person who ‘It’ on the back and shout ice-cream, she then chases the players and if anyone is caught they are ‘It’.

Please Mr Crocodile

One player is the crocodile. The other players stand on the opposite side and recite

Please Mr Crocodile may we cross the water, to see the queen’s daughter, who fell in the water, 100 years ago. Which colour must we wear?

The crocodile chooses a colour and any children wearing that colour have to run to the other side without being caught by the crocodile.

If they are caught, they become the crocodile.

I’m sure that there are many other playground games that I have forgotten over time. Many of them will be unique to British childhood so perhaps I should write them in a book to preserve a piece of British heritage for my children.

If we can’t remember the rules to our childhood games then they are in danger of being lost forever. I’d love you to share any games you can remember here or on the thread and if there are any dinner ladies out there perhaps you could make it a mission to bring traditional games back to the playground.

What are your favourite childhood playground games? Do your children still play them today? Please do tell us so we can gather together as many of the old favourites as possible.

About The Netmums Blog

The Netmums Blog brings you a behind the scenes look at Netmums, as well as some fabulous guest bloggers and an up to date look at what's new on our Parent Bloggers Network.
This entry was posted in bloggers, Mums, School, The playground and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Playground Games from our childhood

  1. Cari says:

    Freeze tag, red rover, skipping rope (one at either end holding/swinging the rope, and one in the middle jumping the rope ), all kinds of running races & obstacle courses, sports.

  2. Julie says:

    Great post. Don’t forget the rhymes we used to say when choosing the ‘it’ person as well: “Ip-a-dip-a-dation, my operation” and “eeny-meeny-miney-mo”. Can’t remember any more….anyone?

  3. Camilla says:

    My favourite games at school were British Bulldog, It, Kiss Chase skipping games of which I can only remember 1 rhyme “I’m a little bumper car, number 48 I whizz round the corner and slam on the brakes” said as you run out and back into the rope and stop it!

  4. Love these games. Also used to play ‘dub dub in’ where one person has to guard the ‘dubbing’ post while tagging the other players and the others have to try and sneak up and touch it without them seeing or being tagged

  5. Claire says:

    “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf” – A game where the crowd creeps up on the wolf (who has his/her back turned) and asks the question. The wolf answers with random times – 1 o’clock, 4.30 etc. The wolf has to figure out how close the kids are and then when they are in range, he/she answers with “Lunchtime” and tries to catch someone before they can run back to base. The caught person becomes the next wolf.

  6. Claire says:

    It’s not really a formal game but we also liked to play Carwash and literally wash our toy cars and any other toy that needed a bath. We’d set up an assembly line – soapy water, rinsing water, drying area, polishing etc. Every kid in the street would run home to get dirty toys if a mom got out the wash tubs!

  7. Jan Gibbs says:

    Skipping and French skipping(with elastic). Not sure if this was a playground game, but we used to draw a large circle with chalk, place a penny in the middle and then bounce a ball between two players to hit the penny out of the circle. the winner got to keep the penny!

  8. I have to admit that I was moved to tears…all are our favorite games from childhood. Good post, reminds me of the childhood…

  9. Pingback: Preserving British Culture #2 Traditional Games | rightfromthestart

  10. My favourite playground game was hop scotch, I had a special stone I used to keep in my pocket and throw onto playground markings to hop, skip and jump to it and try not to fall over. Those were the days!

  11. Pingback: Ten play activities to occcupy your kids before the arrival of your container | The Expat Hub

  12. Pingback: 3 Listening Games to Promote Comprehension - Speech Buddy - Improve Direction Following, Attention and Concepts

  13. Pingback: 20 Blogs Featuring Playground Games for Your Little Ones | Summer Nanny

  14. Skipping is my favorite game in school time. When i was in school i used to skipping game on our school playground.

  15. Yvonne says:

    Please Mr crocodile sounds a bit like one we played called how many steps before the queen .. There quite hard to explain now .. Always loved playing polo .. Totally forgot that one till I come ok here .. Many happy memories of my childhood only seems like yesterday .. Gone are the good old days x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s