What You Need:
- 10-20 tennis balls, or other soft, rubber balls, at least two per person
- Three empty baskets—laundry baskets work great
- 2-3 short sticks of foam, such as a section from an old pool “noodle”, about 12-18”
- 8 sport cones or other markers to place on the field
- Optional: red, white, and blue streamers; duct tape
- Assemble the props and clear the field area. Collect tennis balls (or any rubber balls of any size) that you have on hand or that you can borrow from friends and family. Place the balls in one of the baskets, and take a quick count. These balls will be the "cannonballs" in the armory for the game.
- Gather the foam sticks which will act as the “bayonet muskets” for the patriots. These foam sticks will help young kids extend their reach, so they should be soft to avoid injury. To add more color to the game, have the kids decorate their foam sticks by wrapping red, blue, and white streamers around them, so everyone can be very clear who and where the “Patriots” are!
- Set up the field. Find an open space that will accommodate all the kids. At one end of the space, place one empty basket and put four cones around it. This basket represents the British headquarters in "Boston". At the other end, place the basket full of balls and put four cones around it. This basket represents the "Concord Armory." In the middle of the field, place the third basket. This middle basket will represent the patriots' "secret stash" basket that was the property of the Continental Army.
What You Do:
- Choose the teams. Depending on the size of the group, select three or so “Patriots” (more, if the group is large). Have the patriots stand in the middle of the field, and give each of them a “bayonet musket” to hold. Everyone else will be a Redcoat.
- The Redcoats' goal is to run across the field without being tagged, grab no more than two "cannonballs" from the armory, and make it back to the other end of the field, or "Boston". As long as they have not been tagged, the Redcoats can keep running back and forth until they have brought all their arms back to their side.
- The Patriot's goal is to tag the Redcoats with their "bayonet muskets". If a Patriot tags a Redcoat, the Redcoat must sit down where he was tagged on the field until the round is over. Any cannonballs the tagged Redcoat was carrying will be confiscated by the Continental Army and placed them in the "secret stash" basket in the middle of the field.
- Each round ends either when all the Redcoats are tagged, or when all the cannonballs have been removed from the "Concord Armory".
- The final cannonball count signals the victory: if the majority of the balls have returned to "Boston", then the Redcoats have won, but if the majority of the balls are in the Patriots' stash or in the armory, the Patriots win!
Did You Know?
What really happened in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775?
On that day, American colonists in the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord entered a decisive moment in history. Early that morning, British General Thomas Gage sent 700 “Redcoat” soldiers from Boston to capture the Patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock in Lexington, and to destroy the Patriots’ armory in Concord.
But thanks to the famous warning from Paul Revere (with help from Dr. Samuel Prescott), Samuel Adams and John Hancock were able to escape the night before the battle. When the British troops did make it to Concord on the morning of April 19, 1775, they began seizing gunpowder and arms until the colonists stood their ground at the Old North Bridge at the edge of the town. Astonished by the colonists' resistance, the British tried to retreat back to Boston. However, by that time, colonists from local towns had poured out of their homes and lined the road to fight.
By the end of the day, the British had lost nearly 300 men, and a clear message had been sent by the colonists: the Americans wanted their independence, and they weren’t going to give up the fight. They didn’t, and today, centuries later, we can still thank them for their gift.