Childhood Games

December 21, 2016 Posted by: Angela Izzo
Being a reenactor from the Battle of Lake Erie from the War of 1812 we talk to all walks of life, a major group is children. What do children love to do more than anything in the world? The answer is play games of course, and a great teaching technique. In our collections we have critical thinking, catching, counting, physical, and real life skills games for children of all ages. Like they do today, they helped children 200 years ago grow into skilled adults. 
3 sailors sitting around a small table playing cards under a canvas tarp

We have a variety of games that range from 3000 BC from Mesopotamia to Native American and the early settlers’. The oldest game we have is checkers. This game, as stated above has been carbon dated to Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt around 3000 BC. This game helps make the opponents think ahead and figure out their opponent’s plan of attack.
 
Vase decorated with men playing a game Ancient stone checker board

Our catching game is called Graces. It is typically a game played between 2 girls or a girl and a boy, and it was used to teach poise and grace while doing everyday activities. To play the game each player has to wooden sticks and a wooden hoop. To toss the hoop player 1 holds the hoop on both sticks, makes an “X” with the tip of the sticks and quickly separates the sticks. Player 2 catches the hoop with one or both of their sticks and repeats the game.
Sketch of girls playing Graces
The Snake and Indian Game is a counting game. It helped Native American children learn how to count. The object of the game is to get the highest score the fastest. There are 4 wooden pieces; similar to dominos, but they are longer and thinner. Some sides have a snake, while another has a picture of an Indian, and the rest are blank. Different combinations add up to different amounts of points.
 
Snakes and Indian game pieces and scoring  

One of the physical games is stick and hoop. This game dates back to Ancient Greece. They used it as a sort of target game by rolling the hoop and being able to throw a spear through it. During the 1800 children played it as a solo competition by seeing who can keep the hoop rolling the longest using just the stick.
 
Toy Hoops: Greek vase and sketch of boys playing 


Lawn Darts is another fun game that we have. The darts are made out of shortened corn cobs and feathers stuck in the back and the children have to throw it in hoops on the ground. The game also dates back to Ancient Rome as another target game.
 
Lawn darts: Acient version and American Indian corn cob version 

Lastly we have a few real life skills games. We have a drill, flint and steel, and a rope making machine. These last three are not real games but they teach important skills to children back then as it does today.  The drill falls under “work smarter, not harder” Indians would use this to help make tools and weapons. The flint and steal was a life saving device. The flint would strike steal and produce a spark which is how you make a fire. This is how they would stay warm, cook, and protect themselves.
Pump drill and flint and steel firing starting kit

Sailors used to make rope by hand; it wasn’t till the 20th century that the rope making matching was invented. Children and adults love this machine but on a ship rope was their lifeline. It is what held the sails in place; if some broke the sailors could be stranded and died at sea.
Ancient sketch of rope making
Rope making demostration

These games are not just for fun, we use them to teach children the skills they use in real life. It’s a way to teach children and adults history other than academically. This is one of my favorite parts about this job: teaching people about the past and having them remember it better then when they were tested at school.
Children with toy muskets charging each other

war of 1812, sailor, games, PEVI, historic rowing crew, boys, girls, children




34 Comments Comments icon

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    September 09, 2017 at 06:00
     

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Last updated: December 21, 2016

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