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Classic Kid’s Games and Party Games

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Follow The Leader

One player, who is especially resourceful or skillful, is chosen as a leader. The others all form in single file behind him, and imitate anything that he does. The leader aims to keep the line moving, and should set particularly hard tasks for them, such as climbing or vaulting over obstacles, under others, jumping to touch high points or objects, going through difficult feats, jumping certain distances, taking a hop, skip, and jump, walking backward, turning around while walking, walking or running with a book on the head, etc. Any one failing to perform the required feat drops out of the game or goes to the foot of the line; or at the pleasure of the players may pay a forfeit for the failure and continue playing, all forfeits to be redeemed at the close of the game.

Reprinted from Dr. Isaac T. Headland’s “The Chinese Boy and Girl,” by kind permission of Messrs. Fleming H. Revell & Co.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Follow Chase

The players stand in a circle with arms stretched sideways, resting on each other’s shoulders, thus making a wide distance between. One player is chosen for runner and one for chaser. The game starts with the runner in one of the spaces under the outstretched arms of the players, and the chaser in a similar position on the opposite side of the circle. At a signal from a leader both start, the runner weaving in and out between the players or dashing across the circle in any way that he sees fit; but the chaser must always follow by the same route. If the runner be caught, he joins the circle; the chaser then takes his place as runner and chooses another player to be chaser.

The leader (who may be one of the players) may close the chase if it becomes too long by calling “Time!” when both runners must return to their places in the circle, new ones taking their places.

For large numbers there may be two or more runners and an equal number of chasers, or the players may be divided into smaller groups.

With various modifications, this game is found in many countries. As given here, it is of Italian origin.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Flowers And The Wind

This game is suitable for little children. The players are divided into two equal parties, each party having a home marked off at opposite ends of the playground, with a long neutral space between. One party represents a flower, deciding among themselves which flower they shall represent, as daisies, lilies, lilacs, etc. They then walk over near the home line of the opposite party. The opposite players (who represent the wind) stand in a row on their line, ready to run, and guess what the flower chosen by their opponents may be. As soon as the right flower is named, the entire party owning it must turn and run home, the wind chasing them. Any players caught by the wind before reaching home become his prisoners and join him. The remaining flowers repeat their play, taking a different name each time. This continues until all of the flowers have been caught.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Fire On The Mountains

A number of stools are placed in a circle with considerable space between them, there being two stools less than the number of players. If played out of doors, a stone may be used to sit on in place of a stool, or the players may stand, each on a spot or base marked on the ground. One of the odd players is a leader, and sits or stands in the center; the remainder are circle men and take each his place on a stool or base, the other odd man standing anywhere in the circle between the bases. The object of the game is for the circle men to change places on a signal given by the leader, each player trying to secure a stool and avoid being the odd man. The longer the distance between stools or bases the greater the sport. The running must be done in a circle outside of the bases, and no crosscuts through the circle are allowed. The player in the center repeats in rapid time the following lines:–

“Fire on the mountain, run, boys, run!
You with the red coat, you with the gun,
Fire on the mountains, run, boys, run!”

At any time, at the close of the verse, or unexpectedly, by way of interruption to it, the center player will call “Stool!” or “Base!” when all of the players must change bases. There will thus be one odd player left out. This player then steps one side and is out of the game, taking with him a stool belonging to one of the players, so that the number of stools is reduced by one; if bases are used, one is crossed out to show it is out of the game. The center player, who remains caller throughout, then repeats the verse and the signal for changing.

For each round of the game one player and one stool are taken out of the circle, until but two players and one stool are left. These two finish the game by circling the stool and some objective point a couple of yards away; when the signal to change is then given, the last one of the two to reach the stool becomes the leader for the next game.

VARIATION.–This game may be played without eliminating a player for each round. In this form, each player who is left out when stools or bases are taken must pay a forfeit, but continues actively in the game. The forfeits are redeemed when each player has been odd man at least once.

In this form of the game, instead of having one leader throughout, the leader (center man) should try to secure a stool for himself when the others change, the odd man becoming leader. There should then be but one stool or base less than the number of players.

This is a Scotch game, the reference to signal fires on the mountains, to red coats, and guns, having an obviously historic origin.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Fence Tag

This game is a great favorite with boys for outdoor play, but may also be used in the gymnasium, various pieces of apparatus being used in lieu of a fence.

A certain length of fence is chosen for the game. The one who is It gives the other players a slight start in which to vault over the fence, when he immediately vaults over and tries to tag them. This tagging may be done only when both players are on the same side of the fence.

The dodging is made almost or quite entirely by vaulting or dodging back and forth across the fence within the length or boundaries previously determined. Any player tagged must change places with the one who is It.

FOR THE SCHOOLROOM.–This game may be used in the schoolroom by vaulting over the seats. When played in this way, it is not allowable to reach across seats or desks to tag a player. The tagging must be done in the same aisle in which the tagger stands.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Farmer Is Coming

One player, chosen to be the farmer, is seated. The remaining players, standing at a distance, select a leader who taps some of them on the shoulder as an invitation to go with him to the farmer’s orchard for apples. Thereupon they leave their home ground, which has a determined boundary, and approach as near to the farmer as they dare. The game is more interesting if they can do this from various sides, practically surrounding him. Suddenly the farmer claps his hands and all players must stand still, while the leader calls out, “The farmer is coming!” The players try to get safely back to their home ground, the farmer chasing them. He may not start, however, until the leader has given his warning. Any player caught by the farmer changes places with him.

For the parlor or class room.–This game adapts itself well to indoor use, the farmer sitting on a chair in the middle of the room if in a parlor, or at the teacher’s desk if in a schoolroom. The players are home when in their seats, and the farmer, to catch them, must tag them before they are seated.

This is a particularly enjoyable game for an older person to play with children, the former enacting the farmer.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Exchange

One player is blindfolded and stands in the center. The other players sit in chairs in a circle around him. It is advisable to have the circle rather large. The players are numbered consecutively from one to the highest number playing.

The game may start with the players sitting in consecutive order, or they may change places at the outset to confuse the blindfold player, although the changing of places takes place very rapidly in the course of the game. The blindfold player calls out two numbers, whereupon the players bearing those numbers must exchange places, the blindfold player trying meanwhile either to catch one of the players or to secure one of the chairs. Any player so caught must yield his chair to the catcher. No player may go outside of the circle of chairs, but any other tactics may be resorted to for evading capture, such as stooping, creeping, dashing suddenly, etc.

This game may be one of the merriest possible games for an informal house party. The writer recalls one such occasion when a prominent manufacturer was blindfolded and had located two players whose numbers he called for exchange, one of them a newly graduated West Point lieutenant, the other a college senior. The business man stood in front of the chair occupied by the lieutenant and close to it, taking a crouching attitude, with his feet wide apart and arms outspread ready to grasp the victim when he should emerge from his chair. Noiselessly the lieutenant raised himself to a standing position in his chair, and then suddenly, to shouts of laughter from the company, vaulted over the head of his would-be captor, while at the same moment the collegian crawled between his feet and took possession of the chair.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Every Man In His Own Den

Each player selects for himself a den; a post, tree, or other objective point may serve for this, or the corner of a building, or if in a gymnasium, a piece of apparatus.

One player opens the game by running out from his den. The second player tries to catch (tag) him. The third player may try to catch either of these two, and so on. The object of the different players is to make captives of the others, as any player caught must thereafter join his captor in trying to catch others, thus eventually aggregating the different players into parties, although each starts separately, and any one may be the nucleus of a group should he be successful in catching another player. The players may only be caught by those who issue from a den after they themselves have ventured forth. For instance, Number Two goes out to catch Number One. Number Three may catch either Two or One, but neither of them may catch him. The last player out may catch any of the other players. At any time a player may run back to his den, after which his again issuing forth gives him the advantage over all others who may then be out, as he may catch them. As the players are gradually gathered into different parties, the game becomes more concentrated, and the side wins that captures all of the players.

One player may catch only one opponent at a time.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Dumb-Bell Tag

The players stand, scattered promiscuously, one of their number, who is It, being placed in the center at the opening of the game. A dumb-bell is passed from one player to another, the one who is It trying to tag the person who has the dumb-bell. If he succeeds, the one tagged becomes It.

A great deal of finesse may be used in this game; in appearing to hand the dumb-bell in one direction, turning suddenly and handing it in another, etc. Players may move around freely, and the action is frequently diversified with considerable running and chasing.

In the schoolroom this may be played either with the players seated or standing.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

Duck On A Rock

Each player is provided with a stone, called a “duck,” about the size of a baseball. A large rock or post is chosen as the duck rock, and twenty-five feet from it a throwing line is drawn. On this duck rock one player places his duck and stands by it as guard. This guard is selected at the outset by all of the players throwing their ducks at the duck rock from the throwing line. The one whose duck falls nearest to the rock becomes the first guard. The other players stand behind the throwing line and take turns in throwing at the guard’s duck on the rock with their stones, trying to knock it from the rock. After each throw a player must recover his own duck and run back home beyond the throwing line. Should he be tagged by the guard while trying to do this, he must change places with the guard. The guard may tag him at any time when he is within the throwing line, unless he stands with his foot on his own duck where it first fell. He may stand in this way as long as necessary, awaiting an opportunity to run home; but the moment he lifts his duck from the ground, or takes his foot from it, he may be tagged by the guard. Having once lifted his duck to run home with it, a player may not again place it on the ground.

The guard may not tag any player unless his own duck be on the rock. Before he may chase the thrower, he must therefore pick up his own duck and replace it should it have been knocked off. This replacing gives the thrower an opportunity to recover his own duck and run home; but should the duck not have been displaced from the duck rock, the thrower may have to wait either at a safe distance or with his foot on his own duck if he can get to it, until some other thrower has displaced the duck on the rock, and so engaged the time and attention of the guard. Several players may thus be waiting at once to recover their ducks, some of them near the duck rock with a foot on their ducks, others at a distance. Any player tagged by the guard must change places with him, placing his own duck on the rock. The guard must quickly recover his duck and run for the throwing line after tagging a player, as he in turn may be tagged as soon as the new guard has placed his duck on the rock.

A stone that falls very near the duck rock without displacing the duck may also prove disastrous to the thrower. Should a stone fall within a hand span (stretching from finger tip to thumb) of the duck rock without knocking off the duck, the guard challenges the thrower by shouting “Span!” whereupon he proceeds to measure with his hand the distance between the duck rock and the stone. Should the distance be as he surmises, the thrower of the stone has to change places with him, put his own duck on the rock, and become the guard. This rule cultivates expert throwers.

When used in a gymnasium, this game may best be played with bean bags, in which case one bag may be balanced on top of an Indian club for the duck on the rock.

The modern Greeks play this game with a pile of stones instead of the one rock or stake with the duck on top. The entire pile is then knocked over, and the guard must rebuild the whole before he may tag the other players. These variations make the game possible under varied circumstances, as on a flat beach, or playground where no larger duck rock is available, and add considerably to the sport.

Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

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