colonial games lesson history colonial america 1st 3rd 7th 10th

Colonial games and pasttimes

Future Ticia 2020, I finally added in the last few Colonial games into this post. This is like the third time I’ve added more to this Colonial games post. Deep sigh, finally done.

When you look back at Colonial America, one thing we think about is how their life is different from ours. We think about Colonial Games, and in my mind, that is capitalized, even if that’s incorrect grammar. We picture kids playing with a wooden hoop or maybe playing jacks. Then we marvel at the idea of those same games still being played today. Well, we did it. We had a fun Colonial games lesson with our kids for our history lesson in co-op, and it made a fun addition to our Colonial America lessons.

Future Ticia here, we actually had so much fun with this lesson, we repeated it when we reached this point in history again, so some of these pictures are from our more recent Colonial Games lesson.

Colonial games to play

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Our Colonial Games Co-op meeting

We got together a few weeks ago and played some of the games that colonists played, but since I had a migraine and the other Mom had two million things going on that day our GRAND AND OVERARCHING PLANS failed……

Instead, we did two easy-to-reenact games, especially if you’re a former teacher who did the old “marble in the jar trick” for every time you caught someone being good.  Seriously I have a big huge box of marbles……..

Originally I had grand plans of making toys, and playing jacks (totally linking to this one because of the cool tin), but that didn’t happen. I’ve since gone on to make some of those with the kids and play some of them, but it didn’t happen at the co-op.

Supplies needed for our Colonial Games

marbles (whatever marbles you have, you need to make sure you have a shooter in the set, that’s the big marble, this set has several different sizes), sidewalk chalk OR, dirt area and a stick

This lesson in particular (when originally done) was part of the Time Travelers Colonial America Unit

Future Ticia here, my kids did this lesson again and a few other colonial games a second time around right before our last visit to Colonial Williamsburg.

How we started our colonial games co-op

playing colonial games of marbles

We discovered that it was super easy on our paved concrete driveway with a slight tilt downhill to get marbles out of the circle.  Since that is not at all how the colonial kids would be playing games, it was time to move to the patch of mud in our backyard.

trying marbles in the mud as part of our colonial games lesson

Not so easy on the not completely level and bumpy mud that the colonists probably played on.  The kids all agreed they did not like playing it like this.

learning to play hopscotch for colonial games lesson

They all enjoyed playing hopscotch, which we couldn’t agree on what the rules are, which led to a discussion on variations on rules in different areas, and how games evolve over time.

colonial games to play with your kids as you study American history

Extending the Colonial games lesson

Then I challenged them to come up with a game of their own involving chalk and marbles.

creating their own colonial game

The first group with a lot of eye-rolling and “Do we have to’s” came up with a sort of Pictionary with marbles.

making our own colonial america game to play

The second group came up with a combination of hopscotch and marbles.  You rolled the marble and got that many points for the number your marble stopped in.

Future Ticia here again, another time I’ll have to tell you all about our second time learning about this and how we played quoits and Nine Men’s Morris.

Colonial games: Nine Men’s Morris

playing nine men morris

Another popular colonial America game is Nine Men’s Morris. It’s a series of 3 rectangles joined by lines in the middle of each side. Superman gave a somewhat okay explanation of how to play the game. I’m also wildly amused that he used Shogun figures (from a now-defunct game) and fishbone buttons for the figures.


Now, because I’ll admit 10-year-old Superman’s explanation is not the best. Especially since looking up the rules, I know he’s wrong on a couple of these games, but he did a decent job. I’m fairly sure this is from the summer before 6th grade, so maybe 11 years old? 2020 Ticia is really not sure.

Of course, you can buy a professional copy of Nine Men’s Morris, it’s an age-old game, and I could add this into a Middle Ages unit fairly easily.

How to play Nine Men’s Morris

nine men's morris game

This is a rough version of the board I made up in Picmonkey. Each player has 9 pieces and they take turns placing their pieces on one of the unclaimed spaces, any of the circles or the corners.

As you place your pieces on the board, if you can successfully line up three pieces in a row, then you can remove one of your opponent’s pieces.

Once all pieces have been placed you take turns sliding pieces into empty spaces in an attempt to lock three pieces in a row. When you have done that you can remove your opponent’s piece.

You win the game when your opponent cannot move a piece legally or when they are down to only two pieces.

more thorough Nine Men’s Morris rules

Colonial games: Quoits

Quoits is essentially horseshoes.

playing quoits colonial america games

Or, that’s how I think of it. It’s also incredibly hard to take a good picture of the game as most of my pictures from this are slightly blurry in some way.

That might be why it took me so long to update this post with more colonial games, I didn’t like the pictures I had.

How to make quoits

You can, of course, buy a quoits game; but we made ours with paper plates, dowel rod, and some clay to keep it stable. Princess made ours with a plastic test tube from our test tube science kit and large amounts of duct tape.


Basically, you’re throwing the rings and attempting to get it around the stick. Also, I’m just going to add it’s incredibly weird to see my kids soooooo little.

But, quoits is pretty straightforward.

And now to our final colonial game….

Nine Pins

colonial america unit games

Are you ready, this will be super hard to learn about, almost as hard to play as quoits.

Nah, I’m totally kidding. It’s easy, you’re basically playing an early version of bowling.

How we made our Nine Pin game

Batman dug through our pantry and found some plastic Solo cups and a random rubber ball in our house. Then he set up the cups in a vaguely triangle shape and we were ready to play.


So, this was wildly popular when we did this apparently in 6th grade, so that is almost five years ago, so apparently I took these pictures in 2016. I guess it is useful for me to be updating all of these with the exact age the kids were when we did the lessons.

Who knew?

More fun hands-on lessons

Colonial america games to play at home


3 responses to “Colonial games and pasttimes”

  1. MaryAnne K Avatar
    MaryAnne K

    I have never understood the rules behind hopscotch. When I lived in France we didn't have a playground – just a huge concrete courtyard for recess (and our two-hour lunch). We played a version of marbles where you were trying to hit the other person's marble. The first one to make contact on their turn got to keep the other person's marble. We called it “tic et tac” (tic and tac are just sound words, and “et” means “and).

    We also played a version involving the very unique manhole covers there, which unfortunately do not exist outside of France (as far as I can tell). They made for a great marble game board.

  2. I can tell you that Russian hopscotch is somewhat different in the rules too from American version. I miss some of the games of my childhood!

  3. Wow, fun to see my own comment from 8 years ago! Our kids were tiny then! I was just thinking how a lot of these games similar to the ones we played in the former Soviet Union except marbles – for some reason we did not play marbles…

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