Childhood Memories: Recess


Photo Source

My friend Susan, at Girls In White Dresses, often does childhood memories posts on Fridays. Several years ago she did a post on Recess Games that you can read here. I’m honestly not trying to steal her Friday memories spot–I just happened to come up with another childhood memory post and why not do it today! I know she’ll forgive me! So today, I’m sharing the games and fun we had a recess at my various elementary and middle schools.


Kindergarten and First Grade




At my first elementary school (ok, my 2nd–I went to another for a couple of weeks!) in 1967–1969,  Tether Ball was the big thing at recess. Little kids could truly be taken out by playing tether ball with a big kid. I remember wanting to play very badly–my big brother knew how and he liked it, so it must be fun, right? I never got a chance. Yep. No teacher intervened. No play ground Nazi Mommy Volunteer ordered us to be FAIR. The biggest kids got the good stuff. Our turn would come when we got to fifth and sixth grades. Funny, but not a lot of people my age have to have it explained that life isn’t fair. hmmmmmmm


Second, Third and Fourth Grade



The little girl looking at the camera is me on my 7th or 8th birthday–I can’t remember now which it was. We had 3 recesses per day in those years–morning, lunchtime and afternoon. We were expected to be active. There were swings and teter-totters and Merry-Go-Rounds–always grabbed by the fastest kids at every school. And Monkey Bars for climbing, too! No sissies allowed, if you fell you got hurt. Wood chips? Nope! Just black top! We also had gym class a few days a week. Just an aside, but it was rare to have an overweight child then and there were no sports leagues. hmmmm


Red Rover Source

Jump Rope


Co-ed games included Dodge Ball, Tag, Red Rover, Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I–just like we all played afters school in our neighborhoods.  But only the girls–and an occasional teasing boy–played  jump rope. We usually didn’t do Double-Dutch as it was too difficult. We had all kinds of jingles to keep time.  (Jump Rope Jingles source.)

This one was VERY popular:

Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downstairs to kiss her fellow.
How many kisses did she give?
One, two, three, four, five . . .

There was another where you went thru the alphabet –but it was best for after school. I jumped pretty well, but liked to be picked as a twirller unless it was a rare double-Dutch day–I couldn’t cope with twirling that!


A my name is Alice
And my husband’s name is Arthur,
We come from Alabama,
Where we sell artichokes.
B my name is Barney
And my wife’s name is Bridget,
We come from Brooklyn,
Where we sell bicycles.
C my name is _________
And my husband’s name is ___________
We come from __________
Where we sell ___________.
(Continue throughout the alphabet) Photo Source

 Chinese Jump Rope


The 1960’s were a time when children sang racist ditties on the playground without being talked-to by an adult, let alone suspended. Sadly I remember one. Cultural Sensitivity was way, way in the future, so we never questions why or how this big bungie cord came to be called Chinese Jump Rope. I LONGED for one of these!! The I could stretch it between two dining room chairs and PRACTICE! I dreamed of Chines Jump Rope glory. I was a total failure. I never could understand it. I still have trouble visualizing things like that so I don’t know that I’d do any better today. Alas, Santa never left one in my stocking. And, no, I don’t need a grief or trauma counselor, thank you! The only time I ever played this great game was when I got to be a pair of legs holding it while the super Chinese Jump Rope girls made all kinds of designs and jumped out of them! For the record, I stunk at Cats-Cradle, too. Same visualization problem. Photo Source.


By Fourth Grade we’d become more sophisticated. Oh, sure, we still played all of those games–even the junior high and high school kids joined in neighborhood games of Red Rover or baseball or whatever after school. But now we turned our eyes on two or three amazing toys!

Source Source Source Source

Wizzer tops and Clackers became an obsession. They even made it thru the summer to fifth grade. Wizzers had a thing you could use to stack the spinning tops even. Way cool! For a while there as another toy–a commercial version of the old button on a string toy, but I can’t trace it.


Fifth Grade

Another new school for fifth grade. Fifth graders were the oldest kids in the building so we were really special! We could buy candy on one day a week, if I remember correctly. We had an after-school basketball league for a few weeks in the winter and we were a school on fire for Four Square! And, even with girls sports only really just starting, it was a very rare child who was overweight or a big behavior problem. (Mind you, this was still the days of anyone needing special education services being taught in a different room or even a different building. I do not believe that recess “cures” ADD or ADHD, but it does benefit ALL children in many, many ways).

Four Square


Four Square photo source

The driveways in my subdivision were poured in squares–perfect for after school four square when we got bored with shooting baskets. Nearly every family had a basketball hoop beside the driveway.


Paper Folding


By fifth grade we were growing up. We had SECRETS, we started to notice  BOYS. We passed notes and made these silly decision-maker origami thingys  (that’s there official name, by the way). As safe a method of picking a future spouse, choosing a career or whatever as has ever been devised!  Photo Soruce



Gum Wrapper Chains



Fifth grade was when my OTHER friend Susan (there were a lot of girls named Susan in the ’60s) and I tried to collect every gum wrapper possible. We got in trouble for doing gum wrapper folding during class!





No one gave a thought to a kid choking on a jack back then–if a kid had done that his Mom would have spanked him for being so stupid!  We played with the tiny metal jacks and a red ball. We had a tournament so that meant obsessive levels of practice during recess and at home. Later, in Middle School, our history teacher (a former Purdue basketball player who died recently) encouraged jacks and held a tournament in his class. I was actually REALLY GOOD at this! If there’d been a pro jacks league I’d have aspired to it! Personally, I do think that if Ping Pong and rhythmic gymnastics can be in the Olympics, jacks should be too!


I hope you’ve had a nice recess today! Did you play any of these games as a kid? Where there others that took your school by storm or that kids are still playing at that school? Leave me a comment or, if you’ve posted on this topic, leave a link, I’d enjoy reading your memories, too.


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2 thoughts on “Childhood Memories: Recess

  1. OMG I did ALL these things at recess. I tell my kids that our monkey bars were on a blacktop and that if you fell, you fell. If you got hit in the face with a tether ball, or by a wild seesaw or if you got sick from spinning too hard on the metal merry-go-round, that’s just how it was. I wish we could go back to those days!

    Liked by 1 person

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