Life in Rhode Island during the 1700s (American Colonial times) was at times difficult. Yet people there still found time to play sports and games, and children even invented games. There were toys to be played with, card games and games that did involve anything other than the people playing them. Some popular games for kids included Blind Man’s Bluff, Jackstones, wooden toys and Scotch-Hoppers.
Blind Man's Bluff
Tag games were just as popular during Colonial times as they are now, and children had a number to choose from, including Blind Man’s Bluff. The game is played in an outdoor area where there is plenty of space, or even in a large, empty room. One of the kids volunteers to put on a blindfold and subsequently moves around groping the area to find the other kids. The other players try to avoid being touched by the blindfolded child, often teasing or taunting him to misdirect or confuse him. Once another child is tagged by the blindfolded player, that person must then put on the blindfold and chase the others.
This is a game known by many kids as "jacks," though Jackstones was the name used in Colonial times. It is easy to purchase a set of six jacks, each of them containing six-pointed metal jacks. To keep with the Colonial theme, however, children can instead use six pumpkin seeds, small rocks or other similar-sized objects to play with. Also, rather than use a small bouncy ball, kids can opt to use a small, round rock that is thrown into the air instead of bounced. The objective is the same as today's "jacks," in which the ball, or rock, is tossed and the player must pick up as many of the jacks (or similar object) as possible, being careful not to touch any jacks she does not intend to pick up.
Simple, wooden toys were also a favorite of Colonial children and can still provide a lot of fun for today’s children. One popular such toy is a hoop that both boys and girls can toss into the air or push with a stick while running alongside it. Cup and ball toys, where a child tries to toss and catch a ball in a cup on the end of a stick, still make excellent entertainment for children. Spinning tops is another popular game played by Colonial children that can be played today.
Although the name suggests it pertains to an adult-oriented game, Scotch-Hoppers is actually the Colonial name for Hopscotch. An easy game to set up, which made it popular in Colonial times and remains just as popular in elementary schools today, Scotch-Hoppers requires only chalk and a couple small stones. The goal is the same in the Colonial game as it is in today's, and the number of squares can range from eight to 10, depending on preference.
- Kids Activities: "Colonial Themes for Kids"; Barbara Shelby; July 22, 2010
- "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America"; David Hackett Fischer;1989
- "A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony"; John Demos; 1970
Based in San Diego but originally from Washington, D.C., Alejandro Leopardi has been writing marketing, news, entertainment and literary criticism articles since 2003. His articles have appeared in “Target Magazine” and “The Current.” Leopardi holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies and a Master of Arts in English.