The History Behind Four Beloved Childhood Games

The History Behind Four Beloved Childhood Games

Every adult has a favorite game they enjoyed playing growing up. Everything from tag to hide-and-seek can develop children’s bonds and help them develop into better learners. There’s a lot of history behind many beloved childhood games—including the popular word game, Scrabble—so relive your most treasured memories by learning about the backgrounds of four games below.

Red Rover

Red rover has an unclear history, but many people believe that the game came from a steamboat that transported passengers from one side of Tennessee’s Hatchie River to the other in the 19th century, leading to the ever-popular chant, “Red rover, red rover, send my friend over!”

In red rover, kids divide into two teams and link their arms in a row. One team shouts out the name of a player on the other team, calling them to their side; that team must then prevent the other player from breaking their chain. If the player is unsuccessful, they join that team. If they can break through, however, they get to choose two players to join their own team. The chanting continues until no one is left on one side.


Nicholas C. Seuss, supervisor of Cincinnati Park Playgrounds, invented kickball around 1917, with rules similar to those of baseball. Kickball presented a moment for more coed involvement in sports. Schools now use this game in their daily physical education classes. Kickball also makes for a fun game to play during school-wide events.

Gaga Ball

The history of gaga ball began in the 1970s, when a group of Israeli camp counselors brought the game to Jewish summer camps in New York. Emerging in popularity around 2011, the game has more challenges that games such as dodgeball, involving kids working together to tap a ball to tag other players out. However, the ball has to hit players below the waist, and players can’t catch the ball. Additionally, they can use only one hand while playing.


In the birthplace of hopscotch, Roman-ruled England, players used 100 or more squares. The game tested Roman soldiers’ agility in their armor. The name of the game didn’t include “scotch” until later. “Scotch” is a variant of “scratched,” which meant that soldiers needed to avoid that square. Kids today use rocks to show the space they can’t jump on.

Childhood games teach different skills while allowing kids to have fun with friends. Try learning the history behind other beloved childhood games and why everyone loves them; then, incorporate these activities into your daily lesson plans and watch kids get excited over playing and learning about games from different parts of history.

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