Playground games

I got a couple of books on playground games and children's oral culture for Christmas, and it occured to me that I might write down some of the oral culture that I still remember. These were from Redford, Michigan, between the years 1980-1987, when I was five to twelve years old.

Rock-paper-scissors, mostly just played as a game for its own sake, rather than to pick who got to do something.

Counting out games
Eenie-meenie-miney-moe, catch a tiger by the toe, if he hollers, let him go, eenie-meenie-miney-moe.
(I understand this may have developed from the special counting terms use by shepherds in Scotland.)
 Inkadink a bottle of ink, cork fell out and you stink. Not because you're dirty, not because you're clean, just because you kissed a girl behind the magazine.
Bubble-gum, bubble-gum in a dish.  How many pieces do you wish?
All of these rhymes were using archaic language: we didn't say "holler," we said "yell." We didn't use bottles of ink.  We would say, "how many pieces of gum do you want?"

Songs, mostly parodies using a known tune
Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.  Batmobile lost its wheel and the joker got away, Hey!
On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.

Clapping games (I never learned them, but the girls would play them often.)
Hello operator, give me number nine, and if you disconnect me, I'll chop off your behind the frigerator, I found a piece of glass...

Four Square
The most important rule of four square was that the person in the highest position got to call out all the rules: he was King. He or she could make up whatever rules he wanted, and many had specific names, like "bobbling" meant bouncing the ball up and down in your hands. In a way it was a game about making rules for games.

Mostly paper airplanes and fortune-tellers

What do you remember learning from other children, rather than at school, or from books?


tpmotd said…
I remember our yard games that no one else ever played: Shrunken Head of the Zombie/Barbie (with accompanying method of counting: "One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock rock! Etc."); popcorn on the trampoline; and complex dodgeball games for getting people onto and off the trampoline.
Mike Stay said…
With a dandelion: "Mamma had a baby and its head popped off!" at which point the flower is decapitated.

Jump rope (again, heard from girls): "Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss a fella; made a mistake and kissed a snake, how many doctors did it take?"

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