Updated: Mar 9, 2019
The game of elastics was very popular in the west of Ireland in the 1980's when I was growing up. On the way home from school, we would pop into the drapery shop down the street and buy a yard or two of plain white "knicker elastic" as it was called. Growing up in a housing estate full of large families, this game was played out on the street for hours and on the school playground. I remember many a wet day , using two kitchen chairs and wrapping my elastic around them , and playing away to my hearts content , challenging myself to lift the elastic as high as possible and jump at waist height.
It was a simpler era, when we took childhood games for granted as part of the normal run of life. I now find myself many years later with 4 daughters of my own and living in a rural setting. Playing outside with a large group from the neighbourhood and making up games is no longer the norm. The age of technology and organised activities is more common now where we drive our children to and from sporting activities to meet up with others.
As a primary school teacher as well as a parent , I have witnessed the difficulties many children encounter in play ,and how what we once knew as normal and natural is no longer true for all children nowadays. Many children are not naturally comfortable with play or games and find it awkward to play freely.
From a physical point of view , I realise now that I learned so many fundamental movement skills in childhood purely through games and play . So much of my time was spent cycling, roller skating, skipping , jumping elastics, playing rounders etc that my body was developing the skills necessary to be flexible and agile . In schools nowadays we are at the stage where we need to teach so many fundamental movement skills to our children,as many are not engaging in hobbies and activities which lead to fitness,agility and balance. Many children are going from school to home , where many sedentary hours are being spent watching tv or engaging in the digital world of social media through computer games or online forums.
So it was much to my amazement while attending an Irish Primary PE Association Conference in 2018, to be once again reacquainted with my old childhood game of elastics. They were being used along with skipping ropes in a workshop dedicated to athletics, focusing on the skills of jumping , landing , turning and skipping. Here I was , almost 30 years later getting the same buzz and enjoyment from such a simple game ( minus the fitness and agility I had in my childhood years ! )
In an era of sophistication , where we are all tempted to want the latest gadget on the market , we can sometimes forget that learning and enjoyment can be found in the simplest of ways. As educators who are overwhelmed at times by the sheer array of programs and equipment on the market , maybe its time to take a step back and find simpler ways of engaging and stimulating the children we teach. So many playground games from the past offer enriching learning experiences and skills which can be lacking in our modern era.
So ,to conclude, it was out of this that Inside-Outside came to be. I have seen my pupils and my own children enjoy the game of elastics and come up with their own creative jumps and patterns. It has been a trip down memory lane with a touch of nostalgia for me , introducing this game to my own kids and the children at school . The funny thing is that its timeless , no more or less sophisticated or exotic than it was when I played in the 80's. Therein lies its charm .