Games Pilgrims Played…that we still play today!


Pilgrim children spent the majority of their time either in school or doing chores. Factor in church, meals, and sleep, and you can see there was not much time left for playing. Still, they found ways to entertain themselves. Many of the games that pilgrims played are still in existence today, in some form or another.

I know for many of you, this week is the week before Thanksgiving break. When I was a kid, we only got Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving. However, most of my years as a teacher, I worked for districts that had the whole week off (unless the days were being used for hurricane make-up days, but that’s another story.)

Kids know there is a break coming, and I found I had to be a little more on my toes than usual to keep them engaged. If you are looking for a fun way to learn a little history, why not play like a pilgrim one day this week. Here are some suggestions:



Checkers were called “draughts” and were carved from stones or bone. The board was typically made of wood.



Badminton was called “shuttle-cock.” The birdies were made with real feathers!



a.k.a. “All Hid”



“Noughts and Crosses” was usually played by drawing in the dirt with a stick.

Jump Rope 


Pilgrim children had lots of rhymes to sing for “skip roping”



Also called “knucklebones” because they were played with…knuckle bones from sheep!

Lawn Bowling

lawn bowling

a.k.a Skittles



“Scotch hopping”



an early version of horseshoes was “Quoits” and was played with rope loops

Pick-Up Sticks

pick up sticks

“Jack Straws” were made with the leftover straws from brooms.

Other games that pilgrims played include: tag, keep away, leap frog, cricket, billiards, hand ball, marbles, chess, backgammon, dominoes, fencing, boxing, and archery.


I recently updated one of my resources, Games Pilgrims Play, and I learned SO much about the pilgrim and colonial lifestyle. Here is a free printable from that resource that I thought you might enjoy. Just click the picture to download!

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*PS. if you purchased and early version of Games Pilgrims Play, PLEASE go back and download the updates. It looks completely different, and I think you will be happy with the changes. The new version of this is SO much better. (I am actually a little embarrassed by the early version of the resource!)

If you’re like me and can’t keep track of what you own, here is a tip. When you click on any product on TpT, look in the upper right corner, and it will either say “Add One To Cart” if you don’t own it yet or “Download Now” if you do.

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you don’t own it yet

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you own it!

If you and your students enjoy this matching activity, you may enjoy these resources:

Happy Teaching!


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