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Long before the days of games consoles and mobile phones, children were much more active and primary school playgrounds across the land were full different games being played.

Running about with friends burned off some of the energy stored and songs were sung, building to a crescendo and impending, dramatic doom in some cases. But we doubt six-year-olds gave a thought as to where their favourite games came from as they dashed about before heading into lessons.

How many do you remember playing? Do you have a favourite?


Marbles is one of the most ancient of all games. The pretty glass balls often had colours in the middle of them but occasionally were clear all the way through. Archaeologists have found marbles in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs and in Aztec ruins.


Hopscotch started life as part of a Roman soldier’s training regime. Soldiers from the Roman Empire who came to England used the game to build agility while wearing their armour.

Blind Man’s Buff

Blind Man’s Buff was popular in Tudor England and involved blindfolding one person who then had to try and grab others who moved around. It is said it was a favourite game at the court of Henry VIII.

Ring A Ring O Roses

Ring A Ring O Roses is possibly linked to the Black Death plague. The words of the rhyme include references to sneezing (a common symptom of the plague) and falling down which represents death. A pocket full of posies was often carried to ward off the smell of those with the disease.


Conkers grew in popularity in the 19thCentury and is still much-loved today. There’s something very satisfying in seeing your prized conker smashing your opponent’s one to bits, provided you have managed to avoid being hit on the knuckles by one. There’s an annual world championships held with the basic rule still being that you try to hit your opponent’s conker without yours breaking up.

Oranges and Lemons

Oranges and Lemons is about the bells hanging in several churches dotted across London including Bow, St Martin’s, Stepney and St Clements. You lost the game if you were caught at the end of the rhyme in the arch of two other children.

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