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Old games come out to play again and stop fights

Do you remember playing hopscotch, elastics, two balls, and skipping to the chants of "high, low, dolly, pepper"?

The playground games of the good old days are back - and children love them better than their Playstations, according to their teachers.

The return of long forgotten playground games is all down to a pound;20,000 plan called "in the zone" launched by education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson, and the Sports Council for Wales.

In the first scheme of its kind in Britain, lunchtime supervisors will receive training to manage activities.

Playgrounds will be carved up into different areas for, say, skipping or hula-hooping. Co-ordinators hope this will boost fitness, deter bullies and relieve boredom.

Pupils at Meadowlane primary school in St Mellons, Cardiff, proudly showed off their new game skills at the launch. Ceri Ann Humphreys, aged 11, thinks the bean bag game is "wicked", nine-year-old Kayleigh Rees loves skipping to the 'Turtle Dove' rhyme, but Liam Walsh, seven, thinks skipping is "girlie" and would rather play bat and ball.

Georgetown primary in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, is one of four schools piloting the scheme. Leanne Rees, a teacher at the school, said it has helped stop playground fights during lunch hours and transformed pupil behaviour.

"Before 'in the zone' was introduced, staff would spend all lunchtime breaking up fights, which would spill into lesson time," she said.

"Now the kids are so busy they don't have time to fight - I even think they prefer playing the games to their Playstations."

Emma Newton, PE and school sports co-ordinator for Monmouthshire, helped pioneer the scheme.

She said: "All the old games had been lost to the playground, but they have been revived and are back in fashion."

Ms Davidson officially kicked off the scheme - and then joined in the playground frolics. The former PE teacher skipped and juggled balls while having a "welcome break" from the election campaign.

She said: "The lunch-time break has so much potential for children to learn and be active. It goes a long way to encouraging children to undertake the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity five times a week, and it's also socially inclusive."

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