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Retro Recess

Artist, actor, poet, teacher, songwriter & actor with 4,000 poems & almost 1,000 songs written, performed recorded & published on line.

I taught children from Kindergarten to fifth grade all of the games from the 1920's to the 1960's most of which have been forgotten.

Just plain fun

Just plain fun

Where imaginations could go anywhere

Where imaginations could go anywhere

Learning how to be dizzy with laughter

Learning how to be dizzy with laughter

Leap frogging into the past

Leap frogging into the past

3 to 5:30 P.M  boys and girls night out

3 to 5:30 P.M boys and girls night out

so many old fashioned ways to ride the fun train

so many old fashioned ways to ride the fun train

Girls waiting to be picked for a really fun game

Girls waiting to be picked for a really fun game

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I was Father Goose for their retro recess

I was Father Goose for their retro recess

retro-recess
Bump and Go car use in circle tag

Bump and Go car use in circle tag

Cootie game

Cootie game

Skee Ball Pinball Game

Skee Ball Pinball Game

1960's  Circus Bingo

1960's Circus Bingo

Race Car 1960's Laundry detergent giveaway

Race Car 1960's Laundry detergent giveaway

For a simple fee of about $90.00 per six week session latch key children and other kids who liked after school activities would be signed up by their parents fo

Each Monday of the school year for almost 12 years children in my class would step back in time as they entered an emptied cafeteria to begin their Retro Recess classes. Many of them carried all the modern electronic and computerized devices in their backpacks which had become their daily playgrounds but all of those device remained in their backpacks for an hour and a half. I would gather them all in a circle sitting down cross legged in the center of that room at the start of class and I would pull out of my supply bag a battery operated bump and go car with a silly character driving it. They were instructed not to move when it approached them from the middle of the circle. If it touched them they were out of the circle and went to sit on the wall. The circle grew of about 15 to twenty children grew smaller as the bump and go toy touched a foot or an ankle until only two children were left. Those two would then be designated as captains for the first game. They would each get to pick the first teams for an upcoming game. One of the games they liked they most was called Racquetty ball. It was a version of baseball but the bat was a badminton or tennis racquet and the balls that they had to hit were Ping-Pong balls. It was hilarious to watch the kids playing in the outfield or on the bases trying to catch a Ping-pong ball, especially if they missed it and it bounced around all over the place. If you caught a ball the hitter was out. If you scooped up the ball you were allowed to throw it at the runner moving around the bases to get him or her out. The ball could not hurt anyone because it was a ping-pong ball. by miniaturizing the equipment used to play this game it made the game a lot more hard and yet a whole lot of fun. I had a scoreboard on the wall and each child on the team that won would get a Hero point. as with all of my games kids were given hero points if they won an event. The four children who had amassed the most hero [points would be given a 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th place trophy at the end of the session. You would not believe how the children coveted that trophy. I did not give out participation awards to all and the children loved that the most. They wanted each game to be a stiff competition, just like the old days. I am probably the only teacher ever to allow the kids to throw darts at an old fashioned dart board. I had all of the proper safety lines and if they crossed a line near the dart board they knew they were out. They would line up at a safe distance from the target and each one of them would be given seven darts to throw. The one who scored the highest points would get those hero points they scored put on the scoreboard towards a trophy. I had one first grader score three bulls eyes plus two twenties and a ten for a total of 180 points. She was amazed. The kids loved to play a old game we used to play when I was a child. I would have them pitch quarters against a wall and they child whose quarter was closest to the wall would win all of the quarters and get a hero point. It was my money so it was a gift more than gambling. They really got excited when i would bring in some old Pokemon cards from the 1980's or some baseball cards from the 1980's that I had been collecting that long ago. Some of those cards were with some money. They would pitch the cards like the quarters and the child whose card was closest to the wall won all of the cards. Occasionally I would bring in wrapped candy and they would pitch it at the wall to win all of the candy tossed. Another game that most of them had never played was Pick up sticks. They would sit in a circle and try to remove sticks from the pile with the most intense concentration. some of the sticks were colored Red for five points and some were colored blue for two points and the rest were plain wood for one point. I also would add an incentive to each game by putting 10 or so candy Pixie sticks in the bottom of the pile. They of course got ten points for those and they were allowed to eat the pixie stick. You would not believe how long that sat quietly and enjoyed that game. I always told them that this is what men who disable bombs practice with Pickup sticks. and that if they moved a stick while trying to remove another stick "BOOOOOOOOOM!" LOL Every single child jumped and laughed at my big vocal explosion and then proceeded much more carefully. Another unusual dart toy that I allowed them to play with was a World War Two toy that was a replica of a bombsight. You can see it pictured in my photo section of this article. They would stand over a dartboard on the floor and carefully aim for a bulls eye through the eye holes on the base of the box and the carefully release each of the four levers that would drop a tiny bomb dart onto the dartboard below. Whoever scored the highest points got 50 points towards the trophies. The boys and even the girls loved this old toy and it took a lot of hand and eye coordination. Again it was all safe because the darts only ever hit the large circle on the dartboard. In that moment of time each child was a bombardier in a plane fighting for democracy. I have a huge room in a storage facility filled with hundreds if not thousands of old toys that today’s kids have never played with. They were always amazed at how much fun each one was. We played Picture Bingo with a huge boxed game from the sixties with a wheel to spin that would stop on a picture and you would mark your bingo card if the picture the wheel stopped on matched a picture on your card. Three pieces of candy was the prize to who ever got bingo plus a hero point. I had some old Procter & Gamble cars that had a launch lever on the back of each one and when you depressed the launch lever, the car would go racing of on the ratcheted stick beneath it. Each child got to race one of the six cars and each winner got some hero points. These were giveaways from the sixties that came in boxes of laundry detergents wrapped in sealed plastic. What great races we had and If the winners beat the teachers car they got an extra five points. I usually won because i grew up with these cars at their age long ago. We played "Cootie" a favorite of mine from my childhood were you assemble a bug from many parts by rolling dice. This was a big hit with the kids and wow did it bug them when they couldn't get the last leg before someone else. I had several Pinball games from when I was growing up and these became a serious task for each child to get the highest score. They were amazed at the graphics and the amount of tension you would have to put on each pull of the release handle to get a ball to land in a place on the game that awarded points. One of their favorite games was monster dodge ball. One child would be designated a monster and would go in the hall. He or she would be armed with only two dodge balls. I would then turn out all the lights and when the monster felt ready he or she would come growling and howling into the room. All the other kids would run around to avoid being hit by the monster but the monster had to maintain control of his two balls. Other wise he would be unarmed. If another player got to a ball he/she threw before he/she could recover it, they had a chance to kill the monster., if they did then they would become the new monster, and the game went on and on and on Every child wanted to be a monster...LOL. another variation on dodge ball was I game I called Battleship. One team would sit cross legged around various places on one half of the court. The were the battleships. They were not allowed to move at all because battleships are big iron structures that can't move on land. The other side would be the mortar/ torpedo team. each member of the mortar team would stand on the red line marked on the floor about twenty of so feet from the sitting battleships. Each player would them lob a dodge ball underhand and try to knock one of the human battleships out. The players who were battleships could not move or they would automatically be out of the game. After each team did a bombing rounds they would be battleships until there was only one battleship left on each team. The winning team would be the ones whop sank all the battleships. This game was extremely liked by my students and no one ever got hurt because the balls were made out of nerf. We also played musical dodge ball were all of the balls were in the center of the room and the players would march or dance in a circle around the walls of the room, away from the balls while music was playing. When the music stopped they would have to run and grab balls to knock out other teammates before the music started playing again and they had to resume marching/ dancing around the room. The last one left won the game. It would seem as if a lot of the games we played were based on a war theme but all games have an offense and a defense and a desire to conquer the other side with victory. A lot of other games were based on trust. My favorite one was to set up and obstacle course throughout the entire room and then set up teams of two, one child who would be blindfolded tightly, no peeking seams and one who would attempt to guide them without touching them across the room safely. Each child was given twenty points and they would lose a point every time they bumped into an obstacle. The one with the most points would win. It was a newer version of blind man’s bluff. I invented or redesigned so many games that would be too numerous to publish in one article. We played some of the older games like "MotherMayI." and Red-light, Green light for those of you senior enough to remember them. We played hot potato with a forty year old toy that’s batteries still worked. King of the mountain was always fun on the huge, plowed snow drifts in the winter. We also did a lot of games that taught the kids to measure distance and force of throwing and accuracy which is valuable in any sport. One game was simply tossing a ball lightly into a chair without it falling off. another was three sets of muffin pans and some ping-pong balls and they would try to get the balls into the muffin pan cups that had 100, 50, 25 and 10 painted inside the bottom. I still run into these children all older now and they tell me that they will never forget the fun they had in my retro recess classes. Take some time with your own children to play some of the games you loved as a child, you will found them fascinated by them the same way you were. I have retired from a; of my classes and I do miss the students. Hopefully they learned some skills and life lessons and how to play fairly. Thanks for visiting my Retro recess class,

© 2022 Matthew Frederick Blowers III

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