Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 6

Games Children Played in the 1840s


Students will become familiar with the games and amusements children played in the 1840s and compare them to the games they play today.


  • Handout #1 - Games
  • Handout #2 - Puzzles
  • Answer Key to Puzzles
  • Handout #3 - Directions Sheet
  • Materials to create "Buzzer Button" - string, large buttons or heavy cardboard. "Cup and Ball" - styrofoam cup, clothes pin, string, lifesavers candy


  1. How did children amuse themselves during the 1840's?
  2. What games did they play?
  3. How are the games and play activities of the 1840s the same or different than the games of the 1990s?


  1. Ask students to name the different games they play at home or in the school yard during recess. Ask students to speculate what they think children played in the 1840's.
  2. Distribute handout #2 . Read through the games and discuss. Do you play these or variations of these games today? Would children enjoy playing these games at parties today? Students can try playing some of the parlor games in class. They can take turns playing with the "cup and ball" game or they can make their own. Students can also create their own "Buzzer Buttons". Groups can try solving the puzzles or try to create their own.
  3. Ask students to compare and contrast the games of the past with those of today. How are they the same? How are they different?
  4. Students can try to design their own games to play at recess or at parties. They may want to design a game that is centered around the City of Cleveland Bicentennial.

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