Category Archives: Childhood Backyard Games S19

Pretend Game – Ship

Pretend Game                                                                                                             Glendora Murphy

“Ship”                                                                                                                             Marin County, CA

August 2007


Informant Data:

Glendora (Glennis) Murphy, born on December 7, 1999, grew up in Marin County. She has an older brother, who is 2 year older than her. Her parents emphasized the importance of not watching too much T.V., so she and her brother would often play outside. Her family was very close with their neighbors, the Corkers, who lived across the street. They had 3 kids of very similar ages. Glennis loved to go over to her neighbors to play because they had a big backyard with a play structure. Some of Glennis’ favorite memories are from her childhood summers, playing in her neighbors backyard. Glennis is currently a sophomore at Dartmouth college, studying engineering. Her parents still live in Marin County. She still maintains a close relationship with her neighbors today.


Contextual Data:

Glennis shared this story as part of a Folklore collection for Russian 13. When Glennis was younger, she and her brother would go over to her neighbor’s house after school. Her neighbors had a play structure in their backyard that consisted of swings, a sandbox, a slide, monkey bars, a telescope, a steering wheel. Glennis and her neighbors would always use this play structure as the ship in their pretend game. The pretend game, ship, is described below. Glennis loved to use her imagination and visualize that there were actually on the ocean. She loved her role as the Mother.



The imaginary game they called “ship” started by the children pretending that the entire play structure was a ship sailing on the ocean. The first time they played this game, the eldest child, Kelly, assigned them to roles. Majority of the time they played, these roles were consistent. The roles included: Captain, Mother, Baby, Sailor, and Cook. As the oldest, Kelly was always the captain, Glennis was the mother, her brother was the cook, and her two other neighbors were the baby and the sailor. The Captain would be given the role of driving the ship (playing with the steering wheel). The Mother would have to watch over the baby. The Cook would make pretend food in the sandbox, and the sailor was in charge of the telescope. The game typically consisted of them sailing to find the buried treasure. They typically had events that would occur on this journey, for example, someone (usually the baby) falling off the ship and having to be rescued. The game always ended with them finding the treasure, which was a geode rock that Glennis’ Dad had given her.

Informant’s Comments: Glennis loved reflecting on this game because it reminded her of her crazy imagination as a kid.

Collector’s Comments: This game reminded me of all of the imaginary games I played as a kid. I would often play games with the mother and baby roles. It made me wonder if this is a part of the America culture, for girls to pretend to be mothers in their play.


Isabelle Giordano 20

Dartmouth College

Russian 13.02

Spring Term 2019