The noun “game” comes from the Old English word “gamen” which means joy, fun and amusement. It also derives from the Old High German word “gaman,” meaning joy or glee. And the Gothic “gamann” indicates participation and communion. Its first use was around 1300 meaning a “contest played according to rules.”
Because colonial children didn’t have television, video games or many books to read they often created their own games. Or played the same games played by their parents and grandparents when they were young. Such outdoor games as rolling the hoop, leap frog, marbles, hopscotch, hide-and-seek, sack races and kite-flying were popular. Indoors, children enjoyed Jack Straws (pick up sticks), spinning tops, tongue twisters, puzzles, whirligigs and reading. Dolls were made from corn husks and rags. Many games required no special equipment and were made up on the spur of the moment.
In early America these games taught children skills they would use later in life. They learned how to do things with their hands, how to aim and throw, solve problems, and follow directions and rules. And to use their imaginations.
Two games are presented here to sharpen your skills. And hopefully spur your interest in the people, places and events of early America. Both games are interactive. Our Quiz Game tests your knowledge of early America — allowing you to work toward achieving a higher score, either alone or against an opponent.
Our Crossword Puzzles also test your knowledge of early America’s history. They can be played online or be printed out to be played at a later time.