Colonial Games

game piece

Tag was a favorite game of Colonial children because they didn't need any special equipment and almost everyone could participate (Lizon 52). Of course, there are many different ways to play tag, and some versions have their own names. Some of the favorite variations in Colonial America included squat tag, turn cap, thread the needle, stone poison, and How many miles to Babylon? (Lizon 52-53).

Tag Games

There are many variations on the game of tag, although they typically require a player called "It" chasing the others in order to lightly tap or "tag" them. The variations described below were played in Colonial America. Like today's tag, these games should be played outside where there is plenty of room to run.

Fox and Geese

Fox and Geese was a tag game Colonial children liked to play during winter because they could make the wheel shape they needed easily in the snow (Lizon 53). (Not to be confused with the board game of the same name.) The rules come from Colonial American Holidays and Entertainment by Karen Helene Lizon, pp. 99-100.

Fox and Geese Wheel

Playing Area: To play this game, you need a wide, clear area. You will also need something to mark out the wheel diagram on the ground, which looks like the picture to the right. What you can use depends on where you're playing. If you have a large area of concrete, you could use chalk. If you're playing on dirt, you could scratch it in the ground with a stick. If you're playing on grass, you could lay out rope or string (but be careful not to trip on it when you're running around). Of course, if it's snowing, you could just mark it in the snow like Colonial children did.

The wheel should be about 50 feet across with eight spokes and a smaller circle in the middle. You could make it smaller if you need to, but it will cut down on the area you have to run in.

Playing: One person is chosen to be "It" (maybe with a counting-out rhyme). "It" in this version of tag is also called the Fox. All of the other players are Geese. The circle in the middle of the wheel is the base for the geese. Starting at the base, the Geese have to run on the lines of the spokes and rim of the wheel while the Fox chases them. If the Fox tags any of the Geese, they also become Foxes and chase down the remaining Geese to tag them.

Squat Tag

In this version of tag, the players who are being chased by "It" cannot be tagged if they squat down, but they can do it only a limited number of times. The person chosen to be "It" tells the other players at the beginning of the game how many times they are allowed to squat. Thus, the players can elude "It" for awhile, stopping to squat down as they run around, but only until they've used up their allotted number of squats. After that, they can be tagged whenever "It" happens to catch up with them (Mohr 382).

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