Growing up in Glasgow in the 70s, there wasn't an awful lot of playground equipment - no climbing frames or pirate ships graced the school yards of my childhood. The boys played football, and as far as I remember, only football. The girls had three main sporty pastimes - skipping ropes, Chinese ropes and tennis balls. By skipping ropes, I don't mean your usual boxer's workout skipping, I mean a huge long rope, such as in this old video from Edinburgh in the 50s, with as many as three or four girls jumping together in the middle and a line of others waiting to jumping in while it turned, just as soon as someone else jumped out. Even the least sporty in the class (ie me!) could easily jump two ropes simultaneously, or double Dutch as it was called. To keep the jumping rhythm we sang old songs, no one knew where we knew them from - Scottish gems like Mhairi's wedding, or Ma maw's a millionaire. Chinese ropes involved a pack of elastic bands linked together, two class mates and jumping memorised patterns getting higher and higher with each successive and successful round, as you can see here. And the tennis balls were fairly self explanatory - you bounced two against a wall in set patterns - almost like juggling but with a wall to bounce off. Other than that we traded scraps - I adored my scraps and had countless ones, conned from my granny on weekend shopping trips.
In Scotland my kids never skipped in the playgrounds - occasionally single ropes were taken out in PE lessons but no one was allowed to bring in their own - health and safety I assume, though I was never told explicitly.
Because many of the lessons are now outside, I turned up last week to pick up Amaia and found her turning the rope for her friends, with her teacher at other end. She was having to be on the task as she didn't know how to jump in and out of a moving rope or with others as she had never tried it. It was clear that the Danish kids all knew the timing well, so to save her from another day of sitting it out, we spent the Thursday night teaching her skipping on the patio. She was well pleased to get up to speed and the other two enjoyed it too!
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