Alfred Heim
Published On: Sun, May 18th, 2014

A PAGE OUT OF HISTORY – The Games Children Play by Kathy Coffey

games children play


The concern for the growing numbers of obesity in the population has prompted the government to issue Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Children aged 5-11 year these are:

  • For health benefits, children aged 5-11 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. This should include:
  • Vigorous-intensity activities at least 3 days per week.

  • Activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least 3 days per week.

  • More daily physical activity provides greater health benefits.

In this age of Xbox, Wii, Playstation and Smart Phone Apps it seems to be difficult for children to get the recommended amount of exercise every day. Before the internet age it was difficult for parents to get their children to stop playing outside and do their homework or come in for dinner.


Some of the games they played were made up and some were organized such as these two examples copied from “Games & Parties the Year Round” published in 1938 by Nellie M Lewis would definitely qualify as an element in “Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines”

The Dragon’s Tail

Divide the players into lines of twelve or more. The player at one end of the line is the head of the dragon. The one at the other end is the tail. All but the head clasp hands about the waist of the player in front. One extra player for each group is designated as” It”. “It” tries to tag the tail, while the head tries to keep him from succeeding, by facing him wherever he may run. When “It” succeeds in tagging the tail, he now becomes the tail and the tail becomes the head, and the head is the new “It”.


Squirrel in Tree

Players line up and number off, one, two, three, one, two, three, etc. Each of the No. 1’s joins both hands with No. 2 to imitate a tree truck. No 3-the squirrel –stands in the little circle made by the joined hands of No.1 and No. 2. These groups of three are scattered all over the playing area, each as far removed from the other as possible. Two extra players are needed: “It” who is the hunter and the other who represents the homeless and hunted squirrel.” The hunter, as chases the squirrel, who when he becomes tired, bolts into a “tree” and crowds out its occupant. When the hunter, at any time, calls out “Squirrels out”, every squirrel must run from his tree to another, and the one failing to find a tree home, becomes the “hunted squirrel”. After the game is played for a little while the No. 1’s become squirrels, then the No 2’s, so that all may get a chance to run. Amusing variation may be introduced: “It” can be a dog pursuing a cat, barking as he runs; or “It “can be a lion who roars after his prey.

Defenders and Destroyers

A balloon is inflated and securely plugged. The players are divided into two groups, one the defenders and the other the destroyers. The defenders try to protect the balloon as soon as the leader puts it into play, by batting it into the air; the destroyers try to burst it by grabbing it or stepping on it. When the balloon has burst another one is put in play and the destroyers now become the defenders.  A timekeeper is chosen to keep a record of the time taken by each group to destroy the balloon. The one doing it in the shortest time is of course the winning group.

The Ladder Puzzle

A ladder hangs over the edge of a boat which is anchored in a harbour. At low tide one rung of the ladder is submerged. The rungs are 12 inches apart. When the tide comes in, it comes at the rate of 15 inches per hour. How many rungs would be submerged at the end of three hours of incoming tide?


Answer – One rung  As the tide raises so also does the boat.