Tag Archives: recess

“Four-Square” Rules and Children’s Social Space

Main Piece:

B: So basically, there’s four squares. So each square has a name. So the first square is “baby,” the second one is, “jack,” the third is, “queen,” and the last one is “king.” So basically, the king, serves the ball to the other square, and the ball can only hit your square once. If it hits your square two times then you’re out. And then if it bounces in your square and you hit it to the other square, and if you get that person out, then you move up a square until you’re King. and then all the lines are out, and if the ball hits the line then you’re out. 

Background: 

My informant is my cousin’s 10-year-old son, who is in the fourth grade. He lives in a suburban neighborhood near Des Moines, which is the capital of Iowa. He goes to a public elementary school in his district, where he learned how to play this game from his friend in the third grade. He tells me that he likes this game mostly because of its social aspect; he plays with his friends and converses with them, telling each other stories while they wait for their turns.

Context:

This is a transcript of our conversation over the phone. Lately, he has been telling me stories about what goes on during school, though this conversation was prompted specifically for this collection project. I was curious about what kind of games he plays during school with other kids, and four-square was unsurprisingly brought up.

Thoughts:

Growing up also going to a public elementary school, four-square was a popular recess activity. I was curious about what kind of different rules his school might have for their version of the game and was surprised about how simple and similar it was to my school’s version ten years before him. The main difference was how his school named the squares, which seem to go along with the suits in a deck of cards, aside from “baby.” Our version simply numbered them from 1 to 4, with 1 being the top position (which would be their “king.”) The most fascinating aspect of his story is how four-square was not just a physical activity for kids to burn off the calories of lunch and antsy-ness built up from sitting in class all day, but how it was also a highly social activity. Within our larger conversation, he revealed to me that it was through playing four-square and waiting in line to play four-square that he learned about many other folk stories such as “bloody mary” and the phenomenon of killer clowns from 2016. Thus, children’s games such as this game of four-square can be much more than physical activities to burn off energy. They can represent social spaces where children test each other’s fears and courage.

Cheese Touch

Text

“Cheese touch” a game of tag

 

Background

The informant told me that she learned this game while in elementary school and that she’s noticed that most people played this game when they were younger, even if they did not go to her school. The game originally came from the popular book “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” when a character touched a piece of moldy cheese and was diagnosed with “the cheese touch.” This game quickly caught on with elementary school children across the nation, even with kids who did not read the book. The game was essentially tag, but instead of “being it” it was called having the cheese touch. The informant notes that it was occasionally used to bully other children (popular kids would sometimes give the touch to a kid they thought was weird so that they would have an excuse to run away from or ignore said kid). She said that boys would mostly give it to other boys unless a boy had a crush on a girl, in which case he would give it to her. She confessed that she never really believed in the cheese touch but that it was just a fun game to play on the black top.

 

Context

The informant goes to a school in Southern California and grew up in Newport beach where she attended a nice public school.

 

Thoughts

While this game was just something that the kids used to entertain themselves during recess, it gives insight on how young children socialize with one another. I find it interesting that the children would use the same strategy on a kid they were bullying and the kid they “had a crush on.” Because children have no prior relationship experience, they don’t know how to handle romantic feelings and may resort to this tactic in order to express their emotions.

 

Happy Llama

Text

Happy llama

Sad llama

Mentally disturbed llama

Super llama

Drama llama

Big fat mama llama

Llama llama llama llama

Duck

Coyote

Giraffe

Elephant

 

Background

The informant learned this song while attending an elementary school in the orange county area. She said that she and her friends would sing the song to a handshake similar to patty cake followed by hand gestures that represented the animals they chanted at the end. They would also occasionally sing it while playing jump rope.

 

Context

The informant goes to college in Southern California and grew up in Orange County. She attended a reputable public school in the orange county area.

 

Thoughts

The song itself is not particularly significant and was most likely just used as a form of entertainment on the playground. However, as the informant was sharing the song with me, several of her friends who were in the room chimed in, saying that they also knew the song but knew different versions of it. All of the girls grew up in very different areas across the country, so it is interesting that this song was able to be passed along such vast distances. Additionally, the version of the song that a  person knows might be a way of indicating what school he or she went to or where he or she grew up. In this way, the version song is a representation of the specific culture it is performed at. Upon doing further research, I found a version that replaced “mentally disturbed llama” with “totally rad llama.” The concept of being “mentally disturbed” is a little dark for a children’s rhyme and it could have been edited out of other cultures’ versions for this reason. If this is true, it would say something about what that culture deems acceptable and unacceptable for children.

 

For another version of the song, please go to: https://campsongs.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/llama-song-the-one-with-actions/

Other version:

Happy llama / upright llama

Sad llama / point llama down

Totally rad llama / turn llamas on their side towards each other and shake up and down

Super llama / scoop llamas upward

Drama llama / make llamas kiss

Big fat momma llama / join llamas together by by putting two pointer fingers down

Baby llama / place llamas on dimples

Crazy llama / circle llamas around your ears

Don’t forget Barack Ollama / scoop llamas upward

Fish, fish, more fish / place right hand out, palm down, then left hand on top, roll hands around each other on “more” and return them to original position on last “fish”

Turtle / Hands together, palms down

UH! / pull turtle into stomach

Unicorn / make horn on head

Peacock! / put arms out to side with fingers spread like feathers

 

Cinderella Jump rope rhyme

Cinderella Jump rope rhyme

 

Text

Cinderella dressed in yella

Went downstairs to kiss a fella

By mistake she kissed a snake

How many doctors did it take

One!

Two!

Three!

(Etc.)

 

Background

The informant use to sing this song while playing double dutch jump rope with her girl friends at recess. She said she originally learned the song from her mother but her friends had already heard of it before she brought it up to them. They would sing the song and then count how many times the girl playing double dutch could jump over the rope.

 

Context

The informant is a student in Southern California and grew up Laguna Beach where she attended a public school in a nice area.

 

Thoughts

At first glance, this song seems like a catchy jingle to play jump rope to, but this rhyme has  much deeper historical, misogynistic roots. The jingle was originally created to discourage young girls from being sexually promiscuous. Because Cinderella “kissed a fella,” she was attacked by a snake. Additionally, the song embodies this underlying concept that people may not always be what they seem. When Cinderella thought she was kissing a man, she was actually kissing a snake. Snakes are typically representative of a deceptive trickster in folklore. In the Judeo-Christian faith, for example, the snake tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit.

 

Lemonade Crunchy Ice

Text

Lemonade

Crunchy ice

Squeeze it once

Squeeze it twice

Lemonade

Crunchy ice

Squeeze it once

Squeeze it twice

Turn around

Touch the ground

Kick your boyfriend out of town

Freeze

 

Background

When the informant was younger she would do it with her close friends as an activity to do at church. She first learned it from her friend when she was about 8 years old. This version is specific to her region (San Diego) and has found that her friends who grew up in different cities do it differently. She says that it kept her entertained enough to want to go back to church and that she may have found church boring otherwise. It also made her interact with other kids at church- formed a little community. She says that the adults at church encouraged the song even though it had nothing to do with religion. She later shared this song with her friends at school.

 

Context

The informant goes to college in Southern California and grew up in the San Diego area where she attended both a Christian private school and church every sunday. She also attended weekly bible study where she learned this song.

 

Thoughts

This song was definitely used as a form of entertainment but it was also used as a way to socialize and form new relationships. The informant used this song as an icebreaker to make new friends. Additionally, knowing this song gave her some sense of being apart of a group because all of her friends also knew the song, and if she wanted to be friends with someone new, she would teach her the song. She also noted that she refused to ever teach the song to boys because she was still at an age when she didn’t like boys. Having a secret song with her girl friends made her feel like she was apart of the superior gender, in a way.

 

For another version of this song, go to: http://funclapping.com/song-list/lemonade-crunchy-ice/

 

Alternate version:

Lemonade, crunchy ice

Beat it once, beat it twice.

Lemonade, crunchy ice

Beat it once, beat it twice.

Turn around, touch the ground, FREEZE.”Lemonade” is a clapping game that can be played traditionally with 2 children or with several kids all together. To play in a group the children will clap three times after these words – lemonade, crunchy ice, beat it once, beat it twice. After that the lines are repeated except you don’t need to clap three times at the end. The game ends by turning around, touching the ground and then freezing. The first one to move is out.