"Annie, Annie Over" yells a fourth-grade student as she hurls the rubber ball over the roof of the wooden outhouse. A group of children on the other side scramble to catch it. This scene was repeated daily at country schools in the early 20th century.
Rural schools had little in the way of playground equipment. Children had to rely on their imaginations and simple toys to amuse themselves during their two recesses and one lunch period a day. Students often played popular group games.
"Annie Over" requires that students, or pupils as they were called at that time, divide into two groups. A student with the ball yells "Annie, Annie Over" and throws the ball over the school's roof. Whoever catches it must run around the side of the school and try and hit a player from the opposing team with the ball. This student is then out and the game begins again. Pupils at rural schools ranged in age from four to 19 thus providing a fair number of older children who were capable of hefting the ball over the schoolhouse.
"Pom Pom Pull Away" was another favorite for groups of pupils. Two lines of students form on either side of one student who is "It." "It" can call any player by name and declare, "Jane Smith, Pom Pom Pull Away! Come away, or I'll fetch you away!" Then the student must run across the line and not be tagged by the one who is "It."
A fun game after a fresh snowfall is "Fox and Geese." First, a large circle is tramped down with spokes in it like a wheel. A "fox" is picked from one of the students who then tries to tag one of the "geese" as they run in groups of three and four down the trail with their hands on each other's shoulders. The goose who is tagged becomes the fox and the game starts all over again.
These games provided fresh air and exercise for both genders and happy memories of playtime activities.
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2009
Date Modified: May 2010
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