A colleague and I were talking yesterday about the vocabulary words students no longer know. This is “t” week in kindergarten and one of our key words is “top”. While my students understand the term as a position word, they have no idea what a toy “top” is or what to do with one. Kids just don’t play the same games that we did as children. In fact, many of them don’t play games at all. They are unfamiliar with marbles, jacks, card games, checkers, hopscotch, pick-up sticks, and many other activities that kept us entertained as children.
One of my favorite activities was hopscotch. I was the “hopscotch queen” at my school for at least a year. I played every day at every recess. I even have a grainy photo of myself getting ready to play. Yes, I played in a dress! That’s all we ever wore to school.
My brothers played marbles. They always had a pocket full of marbles so they would be ready to play. They had favorite marbles and they traded and bought marbles. That’s my brother, David, playing in the front yard. When we visited with Taylor this summer she and I played marbles on a mat in the living room. (Not a great shot of Nana, but you have to make sacrifices for the grandchildren! lol)
My parents played checkers, Monopoly, and pick-up sticks with us. My mother didn’t generally like games and didn’t approve of anything remotely associated with gambling, so there were no card games in our house. But Dad loved checkers and loved to win. Mom approved of Monopoly because it taught us math and business. And she had a very steady hand, so she liked pick-up sticks.
We snuck over to our cousin’s house down the block to play poker. They had a house full of children and many were older than we were. We played poker for mulberries or sometimes pennies because none of us had any real money.
My friend Elaine was the jacks champion. I tried and tried, but I was never as coordinated with that bouncing ball as she was. Her hands could really scoop up those jacks!
We also played elaborate “pretend” games of army, cowboys and Indians, pirates and princesses. I’m not sure many children even do that anymore. Everything they do seems to have a movie connection. They play Batman or Spiderman or something else they have seen on the big screen. Or they sit in front of the smaller screen and play video games. Most of my students can tell me their five favorite video games.
I’m not sure if our games were any better or worse, but they sure bring back good memories of good times with other children. I’m not sure many of the video games will do the same for my students.