What Games Did the Children of the Mayflower Pilgrims Play?
29 SEP 2017
Children sailed to the new world in the Mayflower and every one of them survived the rough journey. When they landed on the strange shore on September 6 1620, their parents set about founding Plimouth colony and the kids ducked away at every opportunity to play games. Pilgrim children arrived with few possession but they did bring with them many familiar cultural traditions from England, including traditional English children's games.
1 All Hid
Pilgrim children were English and brought their English games to the new colony. One of those games was called All Hid. It is the original English version of the game now known as hide-and-seek. The rules would have been exactly the same as every modern version with one person designated as "it" and other players hiding while the "it" player counts and then runs to find the others.
2 Naughts and Crosses, Draughts
Another game that Pilgrim children played was naughts and crosses. Tic-tac-toe is what modern children call it. Draughts is the same game as our modern checkers. The rules for each of these games haven't changed over hundreds of years. Pilgrim children would have improvised a playing board for naughts and crosses by drawing a grid in the dirt with a stick. Wasting precious paper and pencil or ink on a game -- if such luxuries had been available to them -- would have been unthinkable.
A popular European children's game of the 1600s was called knickers. Knickers is just an earlier name for what we call marbles. The word knicker comes from the Old Dutch term "knikker," meaning marble and any game played with marbles in the early colonies was called knickers. Pilgrim children wouldn't have had glass or stone marbles -- unless they were smooth pebbles. They probably made their marbles from clay.
4 Hop Frogs and Jump Ropes
Hopfrog -- known today as leap frog -- was a traditional game popular among children in the 17th century. It was ideal for Pilgrim children who wouldn't have wasted scarce resources on making gear for games. Lummelen, or keep away was played exactly as it is today and stickball, beloved baseball or cricket adaptation played by kids in the city streets of modern neighborhoods, was just as appealing then as now. Pilgrim children had serious chores to do but their parents encouraged leisure activities that provided exercise. Jump rope, doubtless with silly rhymes, was called skip rope and hoops could be improvised with a barrel hoop and a sturdy stick.