Appalachia children Games

Playground Games

childhood games

Angie and Tipper

Martins Creek School had plenty of outside places to play other than the playground. There were several large fields that made the perfect place to play games that involved lots of children.

Two games that come to mind that we played often are Pretty Girl Station and Red Rover.

We called the Pretty Girls Station game Bum Bum Bum. It has many variations.

We began the game with a group of kids dividing themselves into teams. Each team made a long line. The lines faced each other leaving a good distance between.

Each group huddled up and decided on an occupation which they wanted to portray. A line was picked to go first and then the line marched towards the other line while singing: Bum bum bum here we come all the way from Washington.

The marching line stopped just in front of the other line. The other line yelled out a series of questions and the marching line answered:

Where’re you from?
Pretty Girl Station

What your occupation?
Doing things.

Well get to work!

The marching group then acted out their chosen occupation. Sorta of like the game of charades. The other line tried to figure out what they were doing and yelled out guesses. If the right thing was screamed out the marching group took off running with the guessing group giving chase. The marching group tried to make it back to their side of the field without being caught. If a person was caught they had to switch sides.

The game continued with each side taking turns acting out a chosen occupation.

Red Rover was also played with two opposing lines. Each person in line held hands with the person next to them, forming a sort of chain of people. One line called for a player from the other line to come over: “Red Rover Red Rover send Tipper on over.” The person called ran as fast and as hard as they could in an effort to break through the chain of people. If they were unable to break the chain they had to switch sides. If they did break the chain they got to take one person from the line back with them to their home line. The goal was to keep your line intact and to continue to gather new people until the other line was depleted.

I was so skinny and little I hardly ever broke through the other line even though I’d seek out the part of the chain that looked the weakest.

Mother May I was another game we played, but we played it in small groups.

Martins Creek School had lots of long concrete stairs which made good places to play Mother May I. One person was selected to be the mother and they stood at the bottom of the steps. The rest of us stood on the very tip top step and waited for mother to direct us. We could only move if the command was prefaced with Mother May I. The object of the game was for us to reach the bottom of the steps and mother, but if we didn’t listen closely and moved when Mother May I wasn’t said we had to start over at the top of the stairs

I have such fond memories of these games. Thinking about them always reminds me of my elementary school classmates and of teachers who have long since retired like Ms. Reeves, Ms. Carringer, Ms. Brenda, and Ms. Sult.


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  • Reply
    Phil Latimer
    October 9, 2019 at 11:41 am

    We played Red Rover, Red Light, Green Light and something called Stillwater, which I can’t remember how to play.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    September 13, 2018 at 2:39 am

    tipper, this post puts me in such a melancholy mood…thinking of past carefree days. thank you as always sharing stories with us, hope all of the blind pig family are safe in this coming storm. sending love and big ladybug hugs to all

  • Reply
    September 12, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I was skinny too at that age. I was so skinny I could feel my backbone when I rubbed my belly! I sure got over that!!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 12, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Wow, Tipper that took me back. We played all three of those games at school. In fact, our building looked just like the one in the picture. I loved school for the first eleven years, but when our county schools consolidated in time for my senior year, I was miserable. Everything was different and unpleasant. Growing up in the country, in a rural school, was a blessing I don’t take for granted.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Fun games as kids. They all were. I never heard of pretty girls station. We did play the other ones.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 12, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Red Rover (which I hated because the opposing team always hit where I was because they knew I’d let go), Mother May I,
    London Bridge (my favorite), Swinging Statues, Wood Tag, Drop the Handkerchief, softball (4th grade and up), Tug o’ War, and Hopscotch.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I never heard of “Pretty Girls’ Station.” But we played the others. We called “Mother May I,” “Captain, May I.”

  • Reply
    September 12, 2018 at 9:53 am

    In Our school, Morgan Elementary, we had a similar game to mother may I. Ours was Simon Says, and if you moved when Simon didn’t say you were out of the game…..and the Simon’s learned to be clever quick sayers . We also played softball, kick ball, and dodge ball. Kick ball was kinda like base ball ,with bases . In dodge ball you were hit with the ball and were out. Always looked forward to recess. We had a principal, Mrs. Wilson, that struck fear in you just by hearing her heels clicking slowly down the polished hardwood hallway, whew ! Our neighborhood school is still standing but looks so different now. We had a lot of neighborhood schools way back then of which many were torn down in later years.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 12, 2018 at 8:40 am

    How about that, no props and outdoors. You all recall all the way back to the Kennedy administration the concern about children not being active enough? Seems it has only worsened steadily.

    I admit that Mother May I is the only one of the three games I knew.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    September 12, 2018 at 8:17 am

    We did a lot of challenges like who could do the most chin ups or who could do the most cartwheels without falling down. Who could stand on their hands the longest or who could do the most pushups. We played kick the can and of course we flipped off the swings and ran up the seesaw and tried to balance it in the middle. It seems like we were always on the move.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    September 12, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Roll at the bat and,football were two of the games we loved. We didn’t divide up to play football, ever who had the ball would run until he got tackled. Other times we played in the woods and when in season gathered beechnuts to eat in class. If there was a snow on, we had snow ball fights. I remember one time when a boy was hit with an ice ball that had a sharp point on it. It layed his scalp open and they had to take him to the doctor for stitches. There were no lawsuits or any of the foolish stuff we see today. At other times we chased the girls. There was this one high spirited girl that could run like the wind and would let you catch up with her so she could kick you, and she always wore boots. I can’t think of anymore right now. I haven’t had my coffee.

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