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What sorts of games do primary school students
play during break times (recess)?

The amount of time devoted to break times differs from school to school.

  • 4 - 7 year olds - Two 20 minute breaks ( one in the morning and one in the afternoon)
  • 7 - 16 year olds - One 20 minute break.

The children also have an hour long lunch break.

During break times and lunch times the children go out and play in the playground.

 Adventure playground
Our Adventure Playground
Kids play on an adventure playground or form teams to play soccer and basket ball. Also popular are skipping and such games as tag.

On rainy days and at other times when they can't go outside, children spend the time chatting with their friends, play board games or reading and drawing in the classroom.

Playground Games



Skipping is probably the most popular game in the playground at the moment. It started when the skipping workshop came and taught the school some tricks, these are some of them: Double Dutch, Pretzel, Stalk, Can-can and Double skipping!!!

Click here for Skipping Rhymes

Skipping Tricks

Can Can

Jump on your left foot while raising your right knee. Then do a two-foot jump. Jump on your left foot again while kicking your right foot. Then do a two-foot jump. Repeat with the other leg.


Place your hand under your knee and turn the rope around with the support of your other hand and jump.

Double Dutch

Two ropes in an eggbeater motion around one or two jumpers.

Windscreen Wiper

One person turn the rope and the
other jump round and round waving to other people.

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Lots of children play IT in the playground and they mostly play it in the winter
because it keeps them warm and fit!!!

Some one is called IT and they have to chase every one else and try and catch them. When they touch someone, they say "IT" and then that person becomes IT.

With thanks to Larne (class 4) St Stephens, Cornwall

Connect 4

This is one of our quieter games.
We have monitors who are in charge of putting out this game
every break time and putting it away.

It is a fun game!

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French Elastic or French Skipping

We play this game with a really long piece of elastic, about 2cm wide and 3 metres in length. We tie the ends of the elastic together to make a loop.

Two children stand inside the loop so they are stretching it relatively taut around their ankles. A third person performs a series of hops and jumps, chanting appropriate rhymes. When finished, the height of the elastic is raised to knees, then thighs, then waist.

Start with left foot inside the elastic loop and right foot just outside. Jump over to to the other side so right foot is inside the loop and left foot is outside.

Here is one of the rhymes we say:

'Chocolate cake, when you bake,
How many minutes will you take?
One, two, three, four.'

On ONE: jump up and land with left foot outside the elastic loop and your right foot inside.
On TWO: jump up and land with both feet together inside the elastic loop.
On THREE: jump up and land with both feet outside the elastic loop.
On Four: jump up and land sideways to the elastic, with your left foot on top of the back elastic and your right foot ahead (in front) of the front elastic.

If the current player fails to execute the correct jump their turn is over and play passes to one of the people inside the circle of elastic, who then tries to out do the previous player.

Here are more of the rhymes we use:

'England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Inside, outside, inside, on!'

'Old Mrs Mason broke her basin
On the way to London Station.
How much did it cost?
One, two, three, four.'

'Charlie Chaplin sat on a pin
How many inches did it go in?
One, two, three, four.'

Please Mr Crocodile


We enjoy playing this game with 4 or 5 friends.

One person is 'Mr Crocodile' and the other people say:

"Please Mr Crocodile
can we cross your Golden River?

(Wendy Carter emailed to tell us this longer version:
" Please my crocodile,
May I cross the water
To see my baby daughter
Who lives in a cup and saucer?

'Mr Crocodile' replies with something like

"Only if you are wearing something blue".

If you are wearing that colour you can move on one step. When you reach the other side, you are then the next 'Mr Crocodile'.

Conkers have been a favourite playground game for years.

Visit our Conker page to find out about this favourite pastime. find out how we play conkers and the history behind the game.


Marbles is a game not seen in the playground.

How to play Marbles.
This link is not part of our site.

Another version of "Please Mr Crocodile"

"Please Mr Crocodile
May we cross the water
To see your lovely daughter
Floating on the water
Like a cup and saucer?"

Mr Crocodile replied:

"Yes, if you're dressed in..."

Mr Crocodile names a colour. E.g. blue. All the kids wearing blue could stroll across safely, but if you weren't wearing blue, you had to dodge and run while Mr Crocodile tried to catch you. If you got caught you were out. The last person to survive would be the next Mr Crocodile.

The Adventure Playground

Ball Games

In our school we have an adventure playground. We have turns on going on it and usually squabble over it, but then a member of staff comes over to the adventure playground to sort us out!!!!

We play with different shaped soft balls in our playgrounds.

Football is very popular but we also enjoy playing catch and trying to improve our basket ball skills.

Queenie, Queenie

A person is picked to be the "queenie," and that person turns her back to everyone else. The "queenie" then throws the ball over her shoulder and one of the other players needs to catch it or pick it up. Everyone, except the "queenie", puts their hands behind their backs so that the "queenie" doesn't know who has the ball. The "queenie" then turns around and everyone shouts:

"Queenie, Queenie who's got the ball?
Are they short, or are they tall?
Are they hairy, or are they bald?
You don't know because you don't have the ball!"

The "queenie" has to guess who has the ball through a process of elimination. If the person with the ball is the last one to be picked, that person becomes the new "queenie."

Winifred wrote to tell us of an alternative rhyme she used:

"Queenie, Queenie who's got the ball?
See I haven’t got it,
It isn’t in my pocket,
Queenie, Queenie who's got the ball?”

To make it more difficult for Queenie to guess who has the ball, the children all keep their left hand behind their back and show the right hand, then put the right hand behind and show the left hand as they as they say the chant. They keep on swapping hands.

The person with the ball has to keep swapping the ball behind their back from left to right hands and has to make sure they don’t drop it!

Jacks or Five Stones

The playing pieces in the Game of Jack

This game used to play with small rounded stones but today we play it with plastic or metal jacks. (see photo left)

To decide who starts, a player throws five jacks into the air with one hand and tries to catch as many as possible on the back of the same hand. The jacks that were caught are then thrown up again from the back of the hand where they came to rest and as many as possible are caught in the palm of the same hand. The other players do the same and the player who catches the most jacks starts, play continuing in a clockwise fashion.

The first player starts the game by throwing the five jacks on the ground and then picking up the ball.

The player throws the ball up, picks up one jack with the same hand and then catches the ball before it hits the ground. The jack is then put into the other hand. This is repeated until all the jacks have been picked up. The player then throws the jacks back on the floor and starts again, but this time, two jacks must be picked up each time except for the third and final throw when, obviously, only one jack is picked up. Once this is achieved successfully, the player starts again but this time with three jacks and then again with four jacks and finally the ball is thrown up and all five jacks are picked up at once before the ball is caught.

When the player misses the ball or does not manage to pick up the required number of jacks, the turn immediately finishes and the next player has a try. The player who manages to progress furthest in the sequence of throws wins.

Five Stones

Keith Davison sent an email to tell us about again he used to play at school. It is similar to our Jacks game.

"I have just been looking through your web site as a consequence of a search on the web regarding a game I used to play as a child in the East End of London around 55 years ago - we called it 5-stones and it was played with stones bought from a shop - these stones were cubes of varying colours - like dice, but made of stone. I never actually played jacks but 5-stones was similar; this is how it was played :-

It started like jacks with  
Ones - tossing one stone in the air and picking up 1 stone
Twos - picking up 2 stones
Threes - picking up 3 stones
Fours - picking up 4 stones
Creeps - one stone was placed on the back of the hand, the others picked up between the fingers and then the 1 stone tossed in the air, caught in the palm of the hand and then the remaining 4 gathered into the palm - not as easy as it sounds)
Cracks - the stone being caught had to crack against the stone picked up.
No cracks - the reverse of cracks in that the stones couldn't make a noise as one was caught.
Little titch - the stones that had been picked up were retained in the palm as the subsequent stones were picked up - that meant that finally 3 stones were in the palm as 1 was tossed in the air to be caught and the 5th picked up from the ground.
Big titch -  the stones that had been picked up were tossed in the air as the subsequent stones were picked up - that meant that finally 4 stones were tossed in the air to be caught as the 5th was picked up.
I hope this may be of interest to you; a further point of interest is that my parents had played the same game in their childhood - my Father was born in 1914 and my Mother in 1913"

Oranges and Lemons

This is a game based around an old English children's song, called 'Oranges and Lemons', about the sounds of church bells in various parts of London.

This is how it is played

Two children form an arch with their arms. They determine in secret which of them shall be an 'orange' and which a 'lemon'.

Everyone sings the 'Oranges and Lemons' song (see below).

The other children in the game, take turns to run under the arch until one of them is caught when the arch falls at the end of the song.

The captured player is asked privately whether they will be an 'orange' or a 'lemon' and then goes behind the original 'orange' or 'lemon' team leader.

The game and singing then starts over again. At the end of the game there is usually 'a tug of war' to test whether the 'oranges' or 'lemons' are stronger. The game is similar to 'London Bridge is Falling Down'.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I'm sure I don't know,
Says the great bell at Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chip chop chip chop the last man's head
(The arch comes down tapping one player)

Red Letter

A person is picked to be the leader. He stands with his back to the rest of the players who stand 10 metres back from him. The leader calls a letter of the alphabet (for example “a”). If a players's name contains that letter the player can move a step forward. The number of steps forward depends on the number of that letter in his name. The leader continues calling out letters until someone reaches the leader.

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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