10-Minute Tales

Sometimes we think recording our life history has to be a daunting task. It doesn’t! It can be fun and quick. Just follow along with my “10-minute tales” journaling prompts and take 10 minutes to jot down your thoughts about each one as we go. In just 10 minutes a week, you’ll create a great history of your past! You can refer to the running list of tales here.


10-Minute Tale: Recess
I think it’s time for a 10-minute tale. The topic: elementary-school recess. Recess was a haven for students during elementary school. Whether you played ball or hopscotch or ran for the swings, those fifteen minutes of freedom were the perfect escape. Have you ever recorded your fond memories from the playground? Now’s the time, and it will only take 10 minutes. There’s no pressure to be a Rowling or a Dickens. You don’t need tidy punctuation. Just record your story—that’s the part that matters. If you’re wondering what to record, think about the following:
* What did the playground look like?
* Where was the first place the students ran once you went outdoors?
* Were there days you couldn’t go outside because of weather or air quality?
* What were your favorite games to play?
* Who did you spend your recess time with?
* How did your choice of recess destinations change as you switched grades in elementary school?
Now that memories are flowing, it’s time to get started. Ready, you’ve got 10 minutes. Go!

Here’s what I came up with:

Recess: Elementary School Delights

My elementary school had three playgrounds—one on the south side of the school for the kindergartners; one on the north side for the first, second, and third graders; and one on the west side for the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.

I don’t remember much about the kindergarten playground or about recess. But none of the apparatus were taller than about four feet. There was a small slide and a dome climber.

In first grade, the most popular game was “Down by the Banks.” Everyone sat in a large circle (I imagine we had up to forty people to start at most recesses). We’d put our right hand on top of the left hand of the person at our right. Then we’d all sing the song, and when the person on our right slapped our hand, we’d slap the hand of the person on our left. Whoever got slapped last when the song ended was out.

In second grade, the popular game was four square. We checked out the rubber balls in the classroom, and then hurried to get one of the courts painted on the pavement. We formed a line, and whenever someone went out, we rotated in. Four square was my game, and I could command the first square for a good percentage of recess. Second grade was also a popular year for swinging. We had about eight swings on our playground. With many kids who wanted to swing, we implemented the “100 second” rule. Once you started swinging, the next person in line counted to 100. When he or she reached 100, we had to rotate. You can imagine how we quickly learned to count fast! People tried getting on the swings faster with this counting method: “One, two, skip a few. Forty-four, skip some more. Ninety-nine, one hundred!” The method didn’t work, though; we made these counters start over.

In third grade, tag was the most popular game. We’d play regular tag and freeze tag. We had a huge, open field to run in, and we’d usually count the swing-set post as home base.

Fourth grade was fabulous, because we finally graduated to the much-anticipated “big-kid playground.” We loved playing on the bars. But the best part of fourth-grade recess was the tetherball equipment. Dodge ball also proved to be a popular game. My favorite activity of the year was learning the dance to “The Electric Slide.” My teacher taught our class the dance, and from then on we asked to take the boom box out during recess; we started teaching it to the rest of the grade. Those were fun times—with hundreds of kids on the playground dancing in unison.

In fifth grade, jump rope was the activity of choice. It took me a while to get the hang of double Dutch, but I finally found success(at least to some degree). The school purchased some huge jump ropes, so we were able to get large groups of girls jumping at once. There were enough jump ropes to go around and most of us brought our own from home, so we didn’t have to worry about taking turns. In fifth grade, we loved getting baseball and kickball games going during recess and lunch breaks. Again, it was nice because everyone could play together. In fifth grade, we learned the joy of chasing boys around the playground. Fifth grade was also a favorite time for playing on the bars. A girl moved to our school who taught us a cool trick for how we could swing around (and around and around) the bar and stay held on simply by tying ourselves to the bar with our jackets. I went back years ago to figure out how we did it, but I couldn’t figure it out. It was a great trick, though.

In sixth grade, my friends and I usually chatted through recess. We went out into the field and talked. Is that the year that Koosh balls were popular? I think so. If it was, we usually had them to entertain us while we talked, though I’m sure the conversation was entertainment enough. ;)

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