Each night of Stoop Series begins with sidewalk games and chatter. As part of the project, we’re gathering stoop stories and childhood games across cultures and ages.

What games did you play on the sideways and driveways and stoops and school yeards when you were a kid? Add your stoop stories and childhood games in the comments section!

Some stories and games you’ve shared with us:

“We played moral, hopscotch, rounders, catch, elastic and jump-rope. I sucked at but always wanted to play those clap handy games.”

“Red light / green light 1-2-3…. There was some kind of game, similar to HORSE, in that it had letters but it wasn’t on a court or anything, it was in the driveways/sidewalks.”

“”Down down baby down down/ a rollercoaster (hand motion of a rollercoaster)/ sweet sweet baby sweet sweet/ don’t let me go (giving self a hug) / shimmy shimmy cocopop/ shimmy shimmy ride (slicking hair back motion)/ shimmy shimmy cocopop/ shimmy shimmy ride (slicking hair back motion)/ I have a boyfriend/ a biscuit (jumping crossing legs)/ he’s so sweet/ a biscuit (jumping crossing legs)/ like my cherry sweet / a biscuit (jumping crossing legs/ ooh Sharina walking down the street/ ten times a week/ I said it/ i meant it/ i stole my mommas credit card” (yeah… we really said it that way in LA in the early 90s)”

“Adam and I from my 3rd grade class used to play “Castle Grayskull” in the school yard. I was She Ra and he was He Man. Buuuut, I’m pretty sure that was just us.”

“A classic Filipino street game is ‘patintero’ where essentially there are 2 teams – defense and offense, I suppose. the defending team can run up and down (vertically or horizontally) on a ‘grid’ defined around the playing space. the offending team tries to go through the grid and back to ‘home’ base without getting tagged by the defenders. tagging any single person shifts play so that defense now has the chance to score. game is in play for as long as no one is tagged, so an offensive team can keep playing for as long as they don’t get tagged. Here’s a video example – ignore the funny commentary, or perhaps you’ll be amused by it.”

“tag, freeze tag”

“Skellies – you need chalk and bottle-caps to make a game-board – sometimes you filled the caps with wax. Boxball – kind of like ping pong meets handball – you play with rubber ball and use two sidewalk boxes as a “court”. Freeze tag. The cruelest game we played was “Suicide” I throw a ball against a wall – you catch it – if you fumble it it touches you with out you gaining possession you have to ruin and touch the wall. I am then allowed to wail the ball as hard as i can at you while you are running – if I hit you you THEN you get “abuse” and need to stand at the wall and I get a free shot to nail you with the ball from 20 paces.”

“Also Jig-a-low… (we were so damn fast!) Everyone standing in a circle, a bit of call and response here: (Group) “Jig-a-low jig jig a low/ jig a low, jig jig a low / Hey (someone in the circle’s name)”/ Respondent: “Yeah?”/ Group: Are you ready?/ Respondent: “To what?” / Group: “To jig”/ Respondent: “Jig what?” / Group: “A lowwww” / Respondent: “Hey hey, my hands up high my feet down low and this (commence dancing) the way I jig a low” / Group: “Her hands up high her feet down low and this (repeat respondent’s dance) they way she jig-a-low” Start over from the beginning and going around the circle.”

“kick the can”

“There’s a filipino game called ‘tumbang preso‘ (fallen prisoner, literally) that is similar to kick the can but we used flip flops. did you use flip flops here in the states?”

“Skelzie, Steal the bacon, Slugs”

“Stoop ball”

“There is also one called big booty I didn’t learn until I was an adult… Its kind of like “concentration.””

“Another game was called chinese garter, I imagine because the garters came from China but I am not sure. essentially it entails jumping over a garter without getting your legs/feet entangled. the garter starts at ground level and works its way up. as high as can go – to the extent of doing cartwheels as the garter is by then above the heads of the two people holding on to it.”

“The chinese garter game is what we, in Trini, called ‘elastic’.”

“We played ” down by the banks of the hanky panky where the bullfrogs jumped from bank to banky shouting east west north south you’re OUT. if the last person smacked your hand you were out. It was one of my favorites. We also played Twiddle Deedle Dee.”

“Skelly, marbles, jacks, punchanella, rockin robin, quack dillie-o-so, and i was addicted to numbers.”

“Here’s another fun and super simple one: ‘luksong tinik’ (jump over the thorns).two players serve as the base of the tinik (thorn) by putting their right or left feet together (soles touching gradually building the tinik). A starting point is set by all the players, giving enough runway for the players to achieve a higher jump, so as not to hit the tinik. Players of the other team start jumping over the tinik, followed by the other team members.”

” I forgot red light green light! And I think tag and freeze tag hands down was good fun! Now monkey bar tag was a whole other being! I have to admit real skelly had too much rules for me and my friends. We played the bootleg version and just tried to knock each others pieces which were usually caps or old checker pieces out of the square.”

“One of the songs we’d clap to:
Leron-leron sinta Buko ng papaya. Dala dala’y buslo, Sisidlan ng bunga, Pagdating sa dulo, Nabali ang sanga. Kapos kapalaran, Huma
Leron, leron sinta Buko ng papaya, Dala-dala’y buslo, Sisidlan ng sinta, Pagdating sa dulo’y/ Nabali ang sanga Kapos kapalaran, humanap ng iba.

Rough translation – Leron may be a name of a person or a bird…
Leron, Leron my love/node or sprout of papaya/carrying a basket/vessel of fruit/when you got to the end/the branch broke/shortness of luck/find another//
Leron, leron my love/node or sprout of papaya/carrying a basket/vessel of love/when you got to the end/the branch broke/shortness of luck/find another.”

“I’m surprised no one mentioned dodge ball. I wasn’t that much of a fan cause you know me, I WILL fight you. But it was very popular.”

“We played a circular hand slapping game that went: Quack Diddly Omar quack quack quack. Dance till the trees go triggle triggle track. Velow, velow, velow velow velow vel-OH! (And then you’d count/slap around the circle to some number, eight maybe? And that eighth person would have to pull their hand away and if they got smacked they were out.) Here is another variation. Other favorites–though they were played more at sleepovers than on the playground–were “Light as a feather stiff as a board” where you tried to get people to levitate, and my personal favorite: “Concentrate,” a macabre hypnotism game that you performed by pounding on someone’s shoulders while chanting “concentrate… concentrate… concentrate on what I am sayyyying… babies are dying mothers are crying… concentrate! concentrate!” and then you would simulate cracking eggs on the person’s heads to see if they could feel the yoke running down their neck and/or stabbing a knife in their back to see if they could feel the blood trickle down. Good clean fun.”

“There was a version that the “mean” girls played that included the lyric “señorita your mama smells like pizza.” I was not cool enough to hang out with the mean girls, so I used the dancing tree version.”

“Four square was one of my all-time favorites. Hopscotch, jump-rope, chinese jump rope, tether-ball (if one was set up), freeze tag. And here are the two hand-games I remember: “Big mac, filet-o-fish, quarter-pounder, french fries, icy coke, thick shakes, sundaes, and apple pies!” “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in black, black, black, with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down her back, back, back, she jumped so high, high, high, she touched the sky, sky, sky, and never came back, back, back, til the fourth of July, ly, ly.” And this was a jump-rope rhyme: “Cinderella, dressed in yella, went downstairs to kiss a fella, made a mistake, and kissed a snake. How many wishes does it take? One, two, etc.””

“Oh Mary Mack Mack Mack all dressed in black black black with silver buttons buttons buttons all down her back back back she cannot read read read she cannot write write write but she can smoke smoke smoke her father’s pipe pipe pipe she asked her mother mother mother for 50 cents cents cents to see the elephants elephants elephants jumped the fence fence fence they jumped so high high high they reached the sky sky sky they didn’t come back back back till the 4th of july july july”

“Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, Cat in the Cradle (should we get some string?), Simon Says, and all sorts of games we just made up the rules to like Hospital and Let’s Climb Onto the Roof and Jump…. Maybe we shouldn’t teach those last two.”

“I know there’s a “Miss Mary”, but for some reason I only remember the more raunchy “Miss Lucy”:
Miss Lucy had a steamboat
The steamboat had a bell – Ding Ding
Miss Lucy went to heaven
The steamboat went to
Hello operator
Please give me number nine
And if you disconnect me
I’ll kick you from
Behind the refrigerator
There laid a piece of glass
Miss Lucy fell upon it
And broke her little
Ask me no more questions
Tell me no more lies
The boys are in the bathroom
Zipping down their
Flies are in the city
The bees are in the park
Miss Lucy and her boyfriend
Are kissing in the
D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K
Dark dark dark!”

“Running bases!!!! Best game ever!!”

“We played Off The Wall. we used a regulation (at least, in our minds, it was regulation) Pinky rubber ball. any number, 2+ could play. we’d bounce the pinky off the side of a garage or warehouse or whatever…some building where we wouldn’t get yelled at. the idea was to bounce the pinky as high and hard off the wall as possible. your opponent would try to catch it. the rules were like baseball. we had foul lines, a home run line, etc. you got three outs. we played seven innings. sometimes, if we had enough kids, we’d set up bases and run ’em out. you could get tagged out if your opponent threw the ball and hit you with it. there were a lot of rules. in addition to downhill bike races which invariably involved being able to avoid traffic, we set up what would now be considered a freestyle course. we built a ramp at the bottom of a hill that was angled just so toward the brick of our apartment building. the idea was to race down the hill as fast as possible, hit the ramp, catch as much air and get as close as possible to the brick wall without wiping out. extra points were awarded for mid-air tricks.”

“We also dodged trains….”

“Hopscotch // Ball games with bouncy balls, where you bounced the ball off of building walls and had to do a series of actions between every bounce // Kerby – a game where you threw footballs on to the pavement kerb on the other side of the road and made the ball bounce back to you. There would be another person on the other side of the road that you would play against and win points etc // Skipping games // Hand clapping games // Chap e doorie – NE Scottish game where you knocked on someone’s door and ran away. (Think I partook in this game once as it’s a mean thing to do and I felt guilty.)”

” “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” I play that game a bit differently now than when I was a kid.”

“I wasn’t big on games when I was a kid. I liked to just sit on the sidewalk and burn ants with a magnifying glass.”

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