poetry and prose about place

early schooling – what to do at recess

with 8 comments

When I was young, recess was a big deal. You had to take a treat to eat and something for play. In Grade Three, tops were all the rage. My Dad made me a top from a wooden spool and we painted it in a rainbow of colours. I can still see it spinning on the concrete step. We also played hop-scotch, ball games like Ordinary Secretary, marbles, skipping and tag.


April 30, 2016 'top made from a wooden spool' Jane Tims

April 30, 2016 ‘top made from a wooden spool’ Jane Tims


I am lucky to have some of my Dad’s writing about his early years and his experiences in a one room school. He went to the Weaver Settlement School in Digby County in Nova Scotia in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He tells about some of the activities at the school, especially at recess. Fishing was popular, as well as playing ball and trading jack knives.


… There was a well out beside the school and it was a good appointment to take care of the water-cooler for a day of a week … Gave a student time off from books…


… There was a brook nearby … In fall we usually built a dam so the brook became a pond for winter … A place to skate or just play on the ice …every moment of recess and noon was spent there …


… The big contest was ‘who comes to school first in bare feet ’ … Our parents had control, not full control as there were hiding places for shoes and stockings along the way to school …


Dad as a boy holding horse

Dad with the family horse Goldie in about 1930






























I am certain recess is still a favorite time for school kids – time to talk with friends, play games and get a little break from the classroom. I think we could all build a little ‘recess’ into our busy lives!


Copyright 2016 Jane Tims



8 Responses

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  1. My father went to a one-room schoolhouse, too. (He was born in 1922.) He walked home for lunch and every day found his mother just finishing listening to an episode of the radio soap opera, “John’s Other Wife.” He believed there was also something at the school, a cleaning solution, or something which triggered his frequent migraines. When he finally went to a regional high school the migraines disappeared. Interesting the things he remembered…

    I used to love playing jacks!

    Liked by 1 person

    Barbara Rodgers

    May 18, 2016 at 9:21 am

    • Hi. My mom taught me how to play jacks! Great stories from your dad. I imagine there were lots of products used to clean. I wonder if his school is still standing. Jane


      jane tims

      May 18, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      • I meant to see if I could find the school this weekend – my father showed me where it was when I was a child. But we got busy with other things so I will have to try and locate it (if it is still there) another time. I checked the town website and did some other searches but could not find any mention of it anywhere so far…

        Liked by 1 person

        Barbara Rodgers

        May 24, 2016 at 10:03 am

      • Hi Barbara. Take a few photos when you find it. My Mom once said something to me when we were going through the Bayhead (Nova Scotia) Cemetery looking for ancestors. She looked across at the hall next door and said she had attended so many dances and suppers there when she was young and never gave a thought to the cemetery. But the gravestones had patiently waited through all those years until the day she and I went looking. Your Dad’s school, or at least the landscape and surroundings, will be waiting there for you. Jane


        jane tims

        May 24, 2016 at 2:30 pm

  2. I am sure or perhaps just thinking that recess today is structured. Make sure the kids are doing the right thing. No loitering. 😦 I loved recess back in the 1940’s. The boys chased the girls and the girls chased the boys. We organized our own games and all grades were on the playground at once. I remember bringing jacks to school. Brought sunflower seeds eat and a thing called Sen-Sen.

    Great memories from your dad. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    May 4, 2016 at 7:30 am

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