History of Summer Games for Kids in Syracuse

BY JENNY GOLDSBERRY

Hoop and stick game, or graces.

As school gets out and your family runs out of ways to fill your day with, we thought we’d introduce some old school games from history. Give them a try and let us know what you think!

Pickle
This game can be a kid’s early introduction to baseball, but you don’t need to play on a baseball field. All you need are two bases marked with chalk, beanbags or plates, and each is guarded by a player who throws and catches a baseball or a bigger ball for an easier catch. One or more players try to run back and forth between the bases without being tagged out by the people with the ball.

Annie Over
This game was popular more than 100 years ago. Two teams and a barrier, which can be a table or log set up between the two teams, were needed. One of the teams had a ball, yelled out “Annie,” and threw the ball to a member of the opposing team. If that person didn’t catch the ball, then they would throw it back. Once the ball was caught, the teams switched sides as fast as possible. The catcher attempted to hit an opposing team member with the ball while they ran to change sides. If a catcher was successful, the player who was hit had to change teams. The game continued until one of the teams completely absorbed the other. Eventually, this game became Red Rover without the ball. This is the type of game where you can invite the whole neighborhood to create large teams.

Graces
Another popular game from the past is Graces, which requires a hoop and a stick per kid. Kids try to use the stick to successfully pass the hoop back and forth. This game was devised to promote grace and dexterity in young children, which is how it got its name. The bigger the hoop, the easier the game, so you can use anything from a hula hoop to an earring. You likely already have hula hoops for the many games that involve them, maybe even for an obstacle course. Smaller hoops have dual purpose, too, for target games where objects are placed at a distance from the thrower, and the thrower tries to capture them with the hoops.

Toy Swap
While we’re not in a wartime now, here’s a fun idea from the second World War era. Many toy factories at the time were required to make guns, plane parts, and other pieces of equipment needed for the war effort instead of making new toys. As a result, there was a toy shortage, so children would swap with one another at ‘toy exchanges’. In this day and age, where the most popular YouTube channels worldwide are of children reviewing games, kids will be happy to learn about and try new toys from their friends.

Syracuse Amusement Hall
In 1904, the Amusement Hall was announced. Here, concerts, school events, plays, and dances were hosted. Eventually, even basketball was set up. Before, these sorts of entertainment happened either in the central school or the Syracuse Mercantile Store in the winter.

It was built along 1700 South 2000 West to be a 40 foot by 80 foot building, meant to fit about 72 people. Later, the city planted a grove alongside the hall. There, locals participated in horseshoe pitching, sack races, relay races, and horse harnessing. The Syracuse Museum has a video on Facebook detailing the history of the hall.

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