Still playing many of the old schoolyard games

Playing in the yard at Ocean Road Junior School.
Playing in the yard at Ocean Road Junior School.

Trends come and trends go, but some things never change – take conkers for example.

Watching little ones (and not so little ones) collecting and then battling with the shiny brown hard fruit of the horse chestnut tree, is sure to bring back fond memories for people of all ages.

It was one of the highlights of autumn-time, and a time for ingenuity and brute force. The ingenuity came from hardening your conker – whether by baking it in the oven (a bit of a cheat) or pickling it in vinegar (yet another cheat) – and then the brute force, trying to break open your opponent’s without getting the strings all tangled up.

Conkers, of course, was a great playground favourite, as were so many other games brought to mind by readers, one of who was quick to mention marbles – or allys and steelies as they were known.

“I remember a game we used to play called ‘what time is it Mr Wolf’,” recalled a colleague.

“It involved everyone walking away from a classmate, shouting out “what time is it Mr Wolf? until he or she shouted out “time to eat you” and he or she would run after us all, catching as many of us as possible. It was quite scary!”

And what about British Bulldogs, a bit of a rough and tumble, if ever there was one.

Another reader told how she spent many happy hours in the school yard playing hop-scotch.

“The hop-scotch squares were already chalked out on the ground so all we had to do was get a stone or a bean bag and even boot polish tin lids to throw. It was great fun.

“Skipping ropes were a must, of course. We spent hours jumping to the sounds of our singing and laughter, especially when more than one girl took to the rope.

“I also remember French skipping, as we called it, which involved us girls tieing lots and lots of elastic bands together, putting them around our ankles and then skipping into the loop and back out again. We also used elastic bands to make cat’s cradles, which was another game we used to play in between lessons.”

What were the games you used to enjoy playing in the schoolyard – many of which would surely have health and safety officers wincing at the thought!

Please let me know.