Victorian playground games

Before the days of television, mobile phones and gaming consoles, children had to get a little more creative with their game play. We know lots about Victorian playground games from historical documents – but do you know how many of their games and toys we still play with today?

Make history come alive again on your school playground or when you next visit a public playground with your family. Take a look at some of the fun games children can play and some of the toys you can make to bring with you.

Hopscotch grid with a child's shoes on it

Hopscotch

Victorian children played a lot of hopscotch – and it’s still a popular playground game today. All you need is some chalk to mark out your hopscotch grid and a marker to throw for your challenge.

We’re sure you’re familiar with the rules, but if not, you can find an overview here.

Tag

A simple but very well loved game, tag was a favourite of the Victorian’s. You need nothing to play other than a group of players and space to run around. One player is “it” and must run after the others, attempting to tag them. Once tagged, that player is then “it” and the game continues. We’d be very surprised if you’ve not played this game before – although it has many names!

Skittles

Very much like bowling, skittles is still a game played all over the world. Typically, 9 skittles were arranged upright and the players took it in turns to roll a ball at them.

The player who could knock down the most balls in each throw was the winner. You can buy playground skittles sets from most toy shops today!

Marbles

Lots of games were played with marbles, with many of children betting their marbles as prizes for the game. A favourite was setting a target on a flat surface and taking it in turns to roll marbles to see who could get closest to the target. Of course, you could also choose to knock other player’s marbles away on your turn!

skipping rope on a leafy floor

Hoop and stick

The aim of hoop and stick was to keep the hoop rolling for as long as possible using only a stick to keep it going. On your next playground adventure, bring a couple of hula hoops, challenge children to find their stick and see who can roll the hoop the furthest.

Skipping ropes

Very easy to get hold of, now and in the Victorian age, were skipping ropes. Children would sing rhymes and challenges for jumping and compete to see who could complete the sequence without standing on the rope. Skipping ropes are also a popular piece of equipment for individuals as well as groups.

Spinning tops

Victorian children loved challenging each other with spinning tops, and they’re really simple to make if you don’t want to buy one. On a piece of card, draw around a cup to get a perfect circle and cut it out. You can then decorate your spinning top, starting in the centre and working out towards the edges for the best effect!

Once you’ve decorated to perfection, take a sharp pencil and push it through the centre of your circle so a few centimetres poke out. Secure your pencil with sticky tape and take it out to the playground. The person who can spin their top for the longest wins!

colourful wooden spinning tops

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