Old-time Directions for King of France Game

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, September 5, 1911: Started to school this morning. Jimmie started also. The teacher we have at present is a substitute, so that will be something like starting in twice when our real teacher comes back.

Recent photo of building the once housed McEwensville School.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Both Grandma and her little brother Jimmie attended the school at McEwensville.  Grades 1 through 8 were on the first floor of the building. Jimmie was starting first grade. There was no kindergarten, so this was Jimmie’s very first day ever as a student.

The high school was on the second floor of the building. It was a 3-year high school and Grandma was starting the 2nd year of high school.

Maybe Jimmie’s teacher had the students play some games.  According to a book published in 1911 called Social Plays: Games, Marches, Old Folk Dances and Rhythmic Movements:

Games and plays have an important educational value. The sense perceptions are quickened, the motor powers are strengthened, powers of volition, inhibition, and accuracy are gained through them. By their agency is acquired a balanced power of will, the love of fair play, and a sense of true moral . . .

Here are the directions in the 1911 book about how to play The King of France:

The King of France

The King of France with forty thousand men

Marched up the hill and then marched down again.

The players stand in two rows facing each other, each row having a leader, which is the king leading his army. The players imitate the motion given by the kings, who take turns at singing the verse, at the same time marching forward at the first line of the verse and back to t their places during the second line, imitating the motion that is to be taken by all. The verse is then sung by both groups, advancing toward each other and retreating.

Social Plays: Games, Marches, Old Folk Dances and Rhythmic Movements (1911)

2 Responses

  1. How delightful :-) Reminds me that when I was teaching Junior School (20 years ago) we were still singing and marching to:

    “The Grand Old Duke of York… He had six thousand men.
    He marched them up to the top of the hill
    And he marched them down again.
    And when they were up they were up,
    And when they were down they were down
    And when they were only half way up they were neither up nor down.”

    Cheers, Catherine

    • They seem like very similar rhymes–except that the royalty is from different countries. I’d forgotten this rhyme, but your comment reminded me that when my daughter was a toddler, she and I took a child & parent swimming class. One of the activities was to say this rhyme and to lift the child up out of the water when we said “when they were up,” and to put the child under the water for “when they were down”–and just having the lower half of their body in the water when they “were neither up nor down.”

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