What Shall We Do Now?: Five Hundred Games and Pastimes
by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
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Five Hundred Games and Pastimes





Copyright, 1907, by FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY October, 1907 All rights reserved


This book has been made in the hope that the question which forms its title, "What shall we do now?" may come to be put less frequently. It is so easy for children to ask it, so hard for grown-up persons with many other matters to think about to reply to it satisfactorily.

In the following pages, which have something to say concerning most of the situations in which children find themselves, at home or in the country, out of doors or in, alone or in company, a variety of answers will be found. No subject can be said to be exhausted; but the book is perhaps large enough. Everything which it contains has been indexed so clearly that a reader ought to be able to find what he wants in a moment. Moreover, by way both of supplying any deficiencies and of giving each copy of the book a personal character, an appendix of blank and numbered leaves (with a few spaces in the index) has been added, in which the owner may record such omitted games and employments as he has found good.

There are, of course, many fortunate girls and boys who do not require any help whatever, who always know what to do now, and do it. For them some sections of this book may have little value. It is for that greater number of less resourceful children who whenever time is before them really are in need of counsel and hints, that it has been prepared.



A Pueblo Settlement Frontispiece

FACING PAGE Outdoor Games for Girls 128 Outdoor Games for Boys 138 Playing Alone 184 In the Country 202 The Library and Furniture from "The House that Glue Built" 244 A Dutch House 264 An Esquimau Sled 266 Indian Costumes 266 Pets 338 Reading 368


PAGE A Trussed Fowl 37 Five Dots 48 Outlines 49 Drawing Tricks 51 Picture-Writing 52-53 The Last Man Surveying the Ruins of the Crystal Palace 56 Patience Card 76 The Dancing Dwarf 106 Bean-Bag Board 114 Rope Ring 115 The Overhand Knot 117 Half-Hitch 118 Figure of Eight 118 Common Bend 118 Sailor's Knot 118 Running Noose 119 Crossed Running Noose 119 Bowline Knot 119 Dogshank 120 Shuffle-Board 121 Balancing Tricks 123 The Glass Maker 125 Electric Dancers 126 Daisy Chain 135 Ivy Chain 135 Hop-Scotch 144 Prisoner's Base 156 Tit-tat-toe 176-177 Hanging 179-180 Chinese Gambling 181 Spanish Cup 186 Cardboard Box Beds 223 Bead Chair 223 A Doll's Apartments 227 Cork Arm-Chair 228 Chestnut Chair 229 Fancy Table 230 Match-Box Bedstead 231 Match-Box Washstand 233 Towel Rack 233 Clothes Basket 234 Cardboard Dolls' House 239 Appearance of House When Complete 240 Dog Kennel 241 Kitchen Table 246 Kitchen Range 247 Kitchen Chair 247 Screen 248 Various Pots and Pans 248 Dining-Room Table and Cloth 249 Sideboard 250 Sofa 251 Arm-Chair 251 Wooden Bedstead 252 Wardrobe 253 Dressing Table 254 Washstand 255 Rocking-Chair 256 Towel Rack 256 Chair 256 Child's High Chair 257 Child's Cot 257 Walking Paper Dolls 259 Paper Mother and Child, with Clothes for Each 260 A Paper Girl with Six Changes 261 Shadows on the Wall 280 A Cocked Hat 284 Paper Boats 285 Paper Darts 286 Paper Mats 286 Paper Boxes 287 A Dancing Man 289 Hand Dragons 290 A Kite 293 Flying A Kite 294 Toy Boats 296-297 A Skipjack 300 A Water-Cutter 300


Blind Man's Buff

"Blind Man's Buff" is one of the best, oldest, and simplest of games. One player is blindfolded, is turned round two or three times to confuse his ideas as to his position in the room, and is then told to catch whom he can. If he catches some one, yet cannot tell who it is, he must go on again as blind man; but if he can tell who it is, that person is blindfolded instead. Where there is a fireplace, or where the furniture has sharp corners, it is rather a good thing for some one not playing to be on the lookout to protect the blind man. Sometimes there are two blind men, who add to the fun by occasionally catching each other. But this is rather dangerous. There is also a game called "Jinglers" where every one is blind except one player with a bell, whom it is their object to catch. But this is more dangerous still.

A good variety of "Blind Man's Buff" is the silent one. Directly the man is blindfolded, and before he begins to seek, all the players take up positions in corners, on chairs, or wherever they think most prudent, and there they must stop without making a sound. The task for the blind man is thus not catching the others, but, on finding them, deciding upon who they are. As chuckling or giggling is more likely to tell him than his sense of touch, it is tremendously important to make no noise if you can help it. Sometimes this game is played (without any standing on chairs) by a blind man armed with two spoons, with which he feels the features of those whom he runs against. In this case it is practically impossible to avoid laughing. The sensation produced by the bowls of two spoons being passed over the face in the attempt to recognize its owner is overwhelming.

French Blind Man's Buff

In French "Blind Man's Buff" the hands of the blind man are tied behind his back and his eyes are left uncovered. He has therefore to back on to the players before he can catch them, which increases his difficulties.

Blind Man's Wand

Here the blind man has a stick, one end of which is grasped by the other players in turn. The blind man puts three questions to each player, and his aim is to recognize by the voice who it is that replies. The aim of the players, therefore, is to disguise their voices as much as possible. Sometimes, instead of merely asking questions, the blind man instructs the holder of the wand to imitate some animal—a cock or a donkey, for example.


The player who is blindfolded is first placed in the middle. The others walk from him to various positions all around, carefully measuring the number of steps (long or short) which take them there. The blind man is then told how many steps will bring him to a certain player, and he has to guess the direction toward him, and the length of step. This player, if found, becomes blind man.

Still Pond! No More Moving

The player who is blindfolded is placed in the middle and all the other players touch him. He counts out loud as rapidly as possible up to ten, during which time the players rush as far away from him as possible. Directly he reaches ten he cries out "Still Pond! No more moving!" and the players must stand perfectly still. He then says "you may have three steps," or any number beyond three which he wishes to give. The players save these steps until he comes dangerously near them and then try and use them to the best possible advantage, to escape. It is not a step if one foot remains in the same place. After a player is caught and identified by the one who is "it" he in turn is blindfolded.

Shadow Buff

A sheet is stretched across the room. One player stands on one side, and the rest, who remain on the other, pass one by one between the sheet and the candle which throws their shadows upon it. The aim of the single player is to put right names to the shadows on the sheet, and the aim of the others is, by performing antics, to keep him from recognizing them. If it is not convenient to use both sides of a sheet, the single player may sit on a hassock close to it with his back to the others, while they pass between his hassock and the candle.

The Donkey's Tail

A good-sized donkey without a tail is cut out of brown paper and fixed on a screen or on a sheet hung across the room. The tail is cut out separately and a hat-pin is put through that end of it which comes nearest the body. Each player in turn then holds the tail by the pin, shuts his eyes honestly, and, advancing to the donkey, pins the tail in what he believes to be the right place. The fun lies in his mistake.

The Blind Feeding the Blind

This is boisterous and rather messy, but it has many supporters. Two players are blindfolded and seated on the floor opposite one another. They are each given a dessert-spoonful of sugar or flour and are told to feed each other. It is well to put a sheet on the floor and to tie a towel or apron round the necks of the players. The fun belongs chiefly to the spectators.

Deer Stalking

This is a game in which only two players take part, but it is exciting to watch. Both "Deer" and "Stalker" are blindfolded. They are then placed at opposite ends of a large table, and at a given moment begin to move round it. The stalker's business is, of course, to catch the deer, and the deer's to avoid it; but neither must run out into the room. Absolute silence should be kept both by the audience and players, and if felt slippers can be worn by the deer and its stalker, so much the better.

Blowing Out the Candle

A very funny blind game. A candle is lighted and placed in position about the height of a person's head. A player is then placed a few feet from it, facing it, and, after being blindfolded and turned round three times, is told to take so many paces (however many it may be) and blow the candle out.


Another amusing blind game to watch is apple-snapping. An apple is hung from a string in the middle of the room about the height of the blind man's head. The blind man's hands are then tied, or he holds them strictly behind him, and he has to bite the apple.

The same game can be played without blindfolding, but in that case it requires two players with their hands fixed behind them, each trying to bite the apple.

Bag and Stick

A good blind game for a Christmas party is "Bag and Stick." A fair-sized paper bag is filled with candy and hung from a string in the middle of the room. A player is then blindfolded, turned round three times, given a stick, and told he may have one, two, or three shots at the bag, whichever it may be. If he misses it, another one tries, and so on; but if he hits it the bag breaks, the candy covers the floor, and the party scramble for it.

Puss in the Corner

Each player save one takes a corner. The other, who is the puss, stands in the middle. The game begins by one corner player beckoning to another to change places. Their object is to get safely into each other's corner before the cat can. Puss's aim is to find a corner unprotected. If she does so, the player who has just left it, or the player who was hoping to be in it, becomes puss, according to whether or not they have crossed on their journey.

Hunt the Slipper

The players sit in a circle on the floor, with their knees a little gathered up. One stands in the middle with a slipper, and the game is begun by this one handing the slipper to a player in the circle, with the remark—

Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe, Get it done by half-past two,

and then retiring from the circle for a few moments. The player to whom it was handed at once passes it on, so that when the owner of the slipper returns and demands her property again it cannot be found. With the hunt that then sets in the fun begins; the object of every player in the circle being to keep the player in the middle from seeing the slipper, from getting hold of it, or from knowing where it is, as it rapidly travels under the knees of the players here and there in the circle. Now and then, if the seeker is badly mystified, the slipper may be tossed across the circle. The player in whose possession it is when at last secured changes place with the one in the middle. Other handy things will do quite as well as a slipper, but something fairly large should be chosen, or discovery may take too long; and it ought to be soft in texture, or there may be bruises.

The Whistle

This is partly a trick. A player who does not know the game is put in the middle of the ring, round which a whistle is moving in the way that the slipper moves in "Hunt the Slipper." The object of the player in the middle is to discover the person who blew the whistle last. Meanwhile some one skilfully fixes another whistle on a string to the player's back, and that is the whistle which is really blown. As it must always be behind him when it is blown, nothing but the twitching of the string is likely to help him to discover the blower (and the trick); and in a small circle where every one is moving and laughing it takes some time to notice the twitching at all.

He Can Do Little Who Can't Do This

This is partly a trick. The leader takes a cane in his left hand, thumps on the floor several times, and passes it to a player saying, "He can do little who can't do this." The player tries to imitate him exactly, but if he takes the cane in his right hand he is wrong, the leader says, "You can do little, you can't do this," and hands the cane to the next player. The game goes on until every one has guessed that it is not the thumps which are to be imitated, but the holding the cane in the left hand.


This is a very good game. All the company leave the room save one. He stays behind with a thimble, which he has to place in some position, where, though it is in sight, it will be difficult to discover. It may be high or low, on the floor or on the mantelpiece, but it must be visible. The company then return and begin to look for it. As the players find it they sit down, but it is more fun to do this very craftily and not at once, lest a hint be given as to the article's whereabouts. When every one has found it, or when a long enough time has been passed in looking for it, the thimble is hidden again, this time by the player who found it first. The game sounds easy, but it can be very difficult and very exciting, every one at the beginning of each search wishing to be first, and at the end wishing not to be last. Players often stand right over the thimble, staring directly at it, and still do not see it.

Magic Music

One player goes out. The others then hide something for him to find, or decide upon some simple action for him to perform, such as standing on a chair. When he is called in, one of the company seats herself at the piano and directs his movements by the tone of the music. If he is far from the object hidden the music is very low; as he gets nearer and nearer it becomes louder and louder.

Hot and Cold

The same game is played under the name of "Hot and Cold." In this case the player is directed by words; as he gets nearer and nearer the object he becomes "warm," "hot," "very hot," "burning"; when quite off the scent he is "cold."

The Jolly Miller

The one who shall be "it" is decided upon by counting out (see page 134), and he takes his place in the middle of the room. The others, arm in arm, walk around him in couples, singing,

There was a jolly miller who lived by himself. As the wheel went around he made his wealth; One hand on the hopper and the other on the bag: As the wheel went around he made his grab.

At "Grab," every one must change partners, and the one in the middle tries to be quick enough to get one himself. If he does, the one left alone must take his place in the middle and be the "Jolly Miller."

Going to Jerusalem

Some one sits at the piano, and a long row of chairs is made down the middle of the room, either back to back, or back and front alternately. There must be one chair fewer than the number of players. When all is ready the music begins and the players march round the chairs in a long line. Suddenly the music stops, and directly it does so every one tries to sit down. As there is one player too many some one must necessarily be left without a chair. That player has therefore to leave the game, another chair is taken away, and the music begins again. So on to the end, a chair and a player going after each round. The winner of the game is the one who, when only one chair is left, gets it. It is against the rules to move the chairs. A piano, it ought to be pointed out, is not absolutely necessary. Any form of music will do; or if there is no instrument some one may sing, or read aloud. But a piano is best, and the pianist ought now and then to pretend to stop, because this makes it more exciting for the players.

Stir the Mash

This is another variety of "Going to Jerusalem." The chairs are placed against the wall in a row, one fewer than the players. One of the players sits down in the middle of the room with a stick and pretends to be stirring a bowl of mash with it, while the others march round crying, "Stir the mash, stir the mash." Suddenly the player with the stick knocks three times on the floor, which is the signal for running for the chairs, and, leaping up, runs for them too. The one who does not get a chair has to stir the mash next.


A circle of chairs is made, and all the players but one sit on them. This player stands in the middle and his chair is left empty. The game consists in his efforts to sit down in the empty chair and the others' attempts to stop him by continually moving one way or the other, so that the empty chair may this moment be on one side of the ring and the next on the other.


This is a game for several little players and two stronger ones. The little ones are the honey-pots, and the others the honey-seller and honey-buyer. The honey-pots sit in a row with their knees gathered up and their hands locked together under them. The honey-buyer comes to look at them, asking the honey-seller how much they are and how much they weigh; and these two take hold of the pots by the arms, one on each side, and weigh them by swinging them up and down (that is why the hands have to be tightly locked under the knees). Then the buyer says he will have them, and the seller and he carry them to the other end of the room together. Once there the seller returns, but quickly comes running back in alarm because he has missed his own little girl (or boy), and he fancies she must be in one of the honey-pots. The buyer assures him that he is mistaken, and tells him to taste them and see for himself that they are only honey. So the seller goes from one to the other, placing his hand on their heads and pretending to taste honey, until at last, coming to the one he has marked down, he exclaims, "Dear me, this tastes just like my little girl." At these words the little girl in question jumps up and runs away, and all the other honey-pots run away too.

Nuts in May

The players stand in two rows, facing each other and holding hands. A line is drawn on the carpet (or ground) between them. One row then step toward the other, singing—

Here we come gathering nuts in May, nuts in May, nuts in May, Here we come gathering nuts in May, on a cold and frosty morning.

They then fall back and the other row advance to them singing in reply—

Pray, who will you gather for nuts in May, nuts in May, nuts in May? Pray, who will you gather for nuts in May, on a cold and frosty morning?

The first row, after settling on the particular player on the opposite side that they want, reply thus—

We'll gather Phyllis for nuts in May, nuts in May, nuts in May, We'll gather Phyllis for nuts in May, on a cold and frosty morning.

The other row then ask—

Pray, who will you send to fetch her away, fetch her away, fetch her away? Pray, who will you send to fetch her away, on a cold and frosty morning?

The answer perhaps is—

We're sending Arthur to fetch her away, fetch her away, fetch her away, We're sending Arthur to fetch her away, on a cold and frosty morning.

Arthur then steps up to the line on one side and Phyllis on the other, and each tries to pull the other over it. The one that loses has to join the other row, and the singing begins again.

Old Soldier

All the players, except one, stand in a line. The other, who is the old soldier, then totters up to the end player, saying—

Here comes an old soldier from Botany Bay; Pray, what have you got to give him to-day?

The player must then say what she will give him, but in doing so must not use the words "yes," "no," "black," "white" or "scarlet." The old soldier's object is to try and coax one of these words out of her, and he may ask any question he likes in order to do so. A mistake usually means a forfeit.

My Lady's Clothes

A color-barred game for girls is "My Lady's Clothes" or "Dressing the Lady." The players first decide on what colors shall be forbidden, perhaps blue, black, and pink. The first one then asks the next, "How shall my lady be dressed for the ball?" and the answer must contain no mention of these colors. This question goes round the ring, no article being allowed to be mentioned twice.

Here I Bake

One player stands in the middle. The others join hands and surround her, their aim being to prevent her from getting out of the ring. She then passes round the ring touching the hands, at the first hands saying "Here I bake," at the second "Here I brew," at the third "Here I make my wedding-cake," and at the next "And here I mean to break through." With these last words she makes a dash to carry out the threat. If she succeeds, the player whose hand gave way first takes her place in the middle. Otherwise she must persevere until the ring is broken.

The Cobbler

The cobbler sits in the middle on a stool or hassock, and the others join hands and dance round him. "Now then, customers," says the cobbler, "let me try on your shoes," and at the same time—but without leaving his seat—makes a dash for some one's feet. The aim of the others is to avoid being caught. Whoever is caught becomes cobbler.


The name of this game dates from the period when stiff cylinder-shaped horsehair sofa-cushions were commoner than they are now. One of these is placed in the middle of the room and the players join hands and dance round it, the object of each one being to make one of his neighbors knock the cushion over and to avoid knocking it over himself. Whoever does knock it down leaves the ring, until at last there are only two striving with each other. A hearth-brush, if it can be persuaded to stand up, makes a good substitute for a cushion. It also makes the game more difficult, being so very sensitive to touch.

The Day's Shopping

The players sit in a ring, and the game is begun by one saying to the next, "I've just come back from shopping." "Yes," is the reply, "and what have you bought?" The first speaker has then to name some article which, without leaving her seat, she can touch, such as a pair of boots, a necktie, a watch-chain, a bracelet. Having done so, the next player takes up the character of the shopper, and so on round the ring. No article must, however, be named twice, which means that when the game has gone on for a round or two the answers become very difficult to find.

Clap In, Clap Out

Half the players go out, and the others stay in and arrange the chairs in a line so that there is an empty one next to every person. Each then chooses which of the others he will have to occupy the adjoining chair, and when this is settled some one tells the outside party that they can begin. One of them then comes in and takes the chair for which he thinks it most likely that he has been chosen. If he is right, everybody claps and he stays there. But if wrong, everybody hisses and he has to go out again. Another player then comes in, and so on until all the chairs are filled.


An extension of this game is "Neighbors." In "Neighbors" half the company are blindfolded, and are seated with an empty chair on the right hand of each. At a given signal all the other players occupy these empty chairs, as mysteriously as they can, and straightway begin to sing, either all to a tune played on the piano or independently. The object of the blind players is to find out, entirely by the use of the ear, who it is that is seated on their right. Those that guess correctly are unbandaged, and their places are taken by the players whose names they guessed. The others continue blindfolded until they guess rightly. One guess only is allowed each time.

Oranges and Lemons, or London Bridge is Falling Down

This pleasant old game begins by two of the older or taller players—one being Oranges and the other Lemons—taking places opposite each other and joining their hands high, thus making an arch for the rest to pass under in a long line. The procession then starts, each one holding the one in front by the coat or dress. As the procession moves along, the two players forming the arch repeat or chant these lines:—

"Oranges and lemons," Say the bells of St. Clement's. "You owe me five farthings," Say the bells of St. Martin's. "When will you pay me?" Say the bells of Old Bailey. "When I grow rich," Say the bells of Shoreditch. "When will that be?" Say the bells of Stepney. "I do not know," Says the great bell of Bow. Here comes a candle to light you to bed, And here comes a chopper to chop off the last man's head.

With these final words the arch-players lower their arms and catch the head of the last of the procession. In order that the arrival of the end of the procession and the end of the verses shall come together, the last line can be lengthened like this—

And here comes a chopper to chop off the last—last—last—last man's head.

Another shorter verse which is often sung is,

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down. My fair lady.

In this case the two players who make the arch with their arms can choose any eatables they like—"ice cream" and "oysters." The players who are caught are asked which they prefer and their places are back of the one representing their choice. The captured player is then asked in a whisper which he will be, oranges or lemons? and if he says oranges, is placed accordingly behind that one of his capturers who is to have the oranges on his side. The procession and the rhyme begin again, and so on until all are caught and are ranged on their respective sides. Then a handkerchief is placed on the floor between the captains of the oranges and the lemons, and both sides pull, as in the "Tug of War" (page 38), until one side is pulled over the handkerchief.

General Post

The players sit round the room in a large circle, and, after appointing a postmaster to write down their names and call out the changes, choose each a town. One player is then blindfolded and placed in the middle. The game begins when the postmaster calls out the first journey, thus, "The post is going from Putney to Hongkong." The player who has chosen Putney and the player who has chosen Hongkong must then change places without being caught by the blind man, or without letting him get into either of their chairs first. Otherwise the player who is caught, or who ought to be in that chair, becomes the blind man. Every now and then "General Post" is called, when all the players have to change seats at the same time; and this gives the blind man an excellent chance.

Spin the Platter

A tin plate, to serve as platter, is placed in the middle of the room. The players sit round it in a large circle, each choosing either a number by which to be known, or the name of a town. The game is begun by one player taking up the plate, spinning it, calling out a number or town belonging to another, and hurrying back to his place. The one called has to spring up and reach the plate before it falls, and, giving it a fresh spin, call some one else. So it goes on. On paper there seems to be little in it, but in actual play the game is good on account of the difficulty of quite realizing that it is one's own borrowed name that has been called.

Kitchen Utensils

This is a variety of "Spin the platter." The players sit in a ring and choose each the name of some kitchen utensil or something used in cooking, such as meat-chopper or raisins. One player then goes in the middle with a bunched-up handkerchief, and this he throws at some one, at the same time trying to say the name of that some one's kitchen utensil three times before that some one can say it once. If, as very often happens, the player at whom the handkerchief is thrown is so completely bewildered as to have lost the power of speech or memory until it is too late, he must change places with the one in the middle.

Up Jenkins

The players sit on opposite sides of a table, or in two opposite rows of chairs with a cloth spread over their laps. A quarter or dime or other small object is then passed about among the hands of one of the sides under the table or cloth. At the word "Up Jenkins!" called by the other side all these hands tightly clenched must be at once placed in view on the table or the cloth. The first player on the other side then carefully scans the faces of his opponents to see if any one bears an expression which seems to betray his possession of the quarter, and, having made up his mind, reaches over and touches the hand in which he hopes the quarter is, saying, "Tip it." The hand is then opened. If the guess is right the guessing side take the quarter and hide it. If wrong, the same side hide it again, and the second player on the guessing side tries his luck at discovering its whereabouts. A score is decided on before the game begins, and the winning side is that which make the fewest number of wrong guesses.

Another way to play "Up Jenkins" is to have the players, equally divided, sit opposite each other at a table. A quarter is then passed along under the table by one side or team. At the command "Up Jenkins," given by the captain of the other side, chosen beforehand, all the players on the side having the coin must lift their hands above the table; and at the command "Down Jenkins," also given by the captain, all the hands must be brought down flat on the table. The greater the bang with which this is done, the less chance of detecting the sound of the metal striking the table. The captain then orders the players to raise their hands one by one, his object being to leave the coin in the last hand. If he succeeds, his side takes the coin; if he fails, the other side score the number of hands still left on the table, and again hide the coin. Another person then becomes captain. If the coin can be "spotted" in a certain hand, either by sight or sound, before a hand has been removed, it has to be forfeited, and the side that wins it adds double the number of hands of the other side to their score. If it is "spotted" and is not in that hand, the side still retains the coin, and also score double the number of hands. If anybody obeys any one else but the captain, in raising, lowering or removing his hands, his side loses the coin, no matter who holds it, but neither side scores.

Hunt the Ring

All the players but one form a circle, with their hands on a piece of string on which a ring has been threaded. The other player stands in the middle of the circle. The ring is then hurried up and down the string from end to end, the object being to keep its whereabouts hidden from the other player.

Lady Queen Anne

In this game, which is usually played by girls, one player hides her eyes, while the others, who are sitting in a row, pass a ball from one to another until it is settled who shall keep it. This done, they all hide their hands in their laps, as if each one had it; and the other player is called, her aim being to discover in whose hands the ball is hidden. She examines the faces of the others very closely until she makes up her mind which one probably has the ball, and then addresses that one thus—

Lady Queen Anne, she sits in the sun, As fair as a lily, as brown as a bun, She sends you three letters and prays you'll read one.

To this the player replies—

I cannot read one unless I read all;

and the seeker answers—

Then pray, Miss [whatever the name is], deliver the ball.

If the ball really is with this player, the seeker and she change places, but otherwise the seeker hides her eyes again and the ball changes hands (or not). And so on until it is found.

Another way is for sides to be taken, one consisting of Queen Anne and her maids and the other of gipsies. The gipsies have the ball first, and, having hidden it, they advance in a line toward Queen Anne, each holding up her skirts as if the ball were there, singing—

Lady Queen Anne, she sits in the sun, As fair as a lily, as brown as a bun. King John has sent you letters three, And begs you'll read one unto me.

Lady Queen Anne and her maids reply—

We cannot read one unless we read all, So pray, Miss [whatever the name of the player chosen may be], deliver the ball.

If they have hit upon the right player she goes over to Queen Anne's side. But if not, the gipsies sing—

The ball is mine, it is not thine, So you, proud Queen, sit still on your throne, While we poor gipsies go and come.

They then turn round and hide the ball again.

The Feather

A very exhausting game. The players sit round a table and form sides, one half against the other, and a little fluffy feather is placed in the middle. The aim of each side is to blow the feather so that it settles in the other camp, and to keep it from settling in their own.

The same game can be played with a marble on a table from which the table-cloth has been removed. In this case you all sink your faces to the level of the table.

Russian Scandal, or "Gossip"

The players sit in a long line or ring. The first, turning to the second, whispers very rapidly some remark or a brief story. The second, who may hear it distinctly, but probably does not, then whispers it as exactly as he can to the third player; and so on until the line is finished. The last player then whispers it to the first player; and the first player repeats his original remark to the company, and follows it with the form in which it has just reached him.


All the players sit in a ring, except one, who stands in the middle holding a soft cushion. This he throws at any one of the players and begins to count ten. The person at whom the cushion was thrown must call out the words of a well-known advertisement before ten is reached. If he fails he must pay a forfeit.

Judge and Jury

The players, or jury, form up in two rows facing each other. The judge sits at one end, or passes between the two lines, and asks his questions. These may be of any description. Perhaps he will say, "Miss A, do you think it will rain to-morrow?" Now although the judge addresses Miss A and looks at her, it is not she who must answer but the player opposite to her. And he in his answer is not allowed to say either "Yes," "No," "Black," "White," or "Gray." If the player who was addressed answers she becomes judge and the judge takes her seat; or if the opposite player does not answer before the judge has counted ten he becomes judge and the judge takes his seat.

Cross Questions

The players sit in a circle, and the game begins by one player turning to the next and asking a question. Perhaps it will be, "Did you get very wet this evening?" The answer may be, "Fortunately I had a mackintosh." The second player then asks the third, and so on round the circle until it comes to the first player's turn to be asked a question by the last one. Perhaps this question will be, "I hope your cousin is better?" All these questions and answers have to be very carefully remembered, because on the circle being complete each player in turn has to repeat the question which was put to her and the answer which she received to the question which she herself put. Thus in the present instance the first player would announce that the question was, "I hope your cousin is better?" and the answer, "Fortunately I had a mackintosh." Another variety of cross question is played as follows. The company is divided into two parts, and stand facing each other. A leader is chosen for each side, one to give the questions and one to give the answers. One goes down his side giving to each player in a whisper some serious question which he must ask of his opposite in the other line. The other leader whispers to each of his players an absurd answer. Then the play begins. The first in line asks his opponent his question and receives the absurd answer three times. If either of them smile he is put out of the game. The person who can keep a straight face to the last, wins the prize. After the whole line has asked and answered the first set of questions, the first couple become the leaders, and propound two other sets of questions and answers. And so on until only two are left.

Ruth and Jacob

One player has his eyes blinded and stands in a circle made by the other players. They dance silently around him until he points at one, who must then enter the circle and try to avoid being caught by the blind man. The pursuer calls out from time to time "Ruth!" to which the pursued must always answer at once "Jacob!" at the same time trying to dodge quickly enough to escape the other's immediate rush to the spot. After the "Ruth" is caught, the "Jacob" must guess who it is and if he guesses right, the "Ruth" is blindfolded and becomes the "Jacob," and the game begins anew.

Fly Away!

The player who is chosen as leader sits down and places the first finger of her right hand on her knee. The others crowd round her and also place the first finger of their right hands on her knee, close to hers. The game is for the leader to raise her finger suddenly, saying, "Fly away [something]." If that something is not capable of flight the other fingers must not move, but if it can fly they must rise also. Thus, "Fly away, thrush!" "Fly away, pigeon!" "Fly away, butterfly!" should cause all the fingers to spring up. But of "Fly away, omnibus!" "Fly away, cat!" "Fly away, pig!" no notice should be taken. The game is, of course, to catch players napping.

Hold Fast! Let Go!

This is a very confusing game of contraries for five players. Four of them hold each the corner of a handkerchief. The other, who stands by to give orders, then shouts either "Let go!" or "Hold fast!" When "Let go!" is called, the handkerchief must be held as firmly as ever; but when "Hold fast!" it must be dropped. The commands should be given quickly and now and then repeated to add to the anxiety of the other players.

The Sergeant

In this game one player represents a sergeant and the others are soldiers whom he is drilling. When he makes an action and says "Do this" the others have to imitate him; but if he says "Do that" they must take no notice.

Simon Says Thumbs Up

The players sit about on the floor or on chairs, each holding out on his knee his clenched fist with the thumb sticking straight up. One player calls out "Simon says thumbs down." All the thumbs must be instantly reversed. Then he tries to confuse them by alternating between up and down for some time until they all get into the way of expecting the change, and then he gives the same order twice in succession. Those who make a mistake pay a forfeit. If he calls out simply "Thumbs up" or "Thumbs down" no attention must be paid to this order as a forfeit is taken.

The orders are sometimes varied by the command "Simon says wig-wag!" when all the thumbs must be waggled to and fro.

The Grand Mufti

A somewhat similar game of contraries is "The Grand Mufti." The player personating the Grand Mufti stands in the middle or on a chair, and performs whatever action he likes with his hands, arms, head, and legs. With each movement he says, "Thus does the Grand Mufti," or, "So does the Grand Mufti." When it is "Thus does the Grand Mufti" the other players must imitate his movement; but when it is "So does the Grand Mufti" they must take no notice. Any mistakes may lead to forfeits.

The Mandarins

There is no contrariness about "The Mandarins." The players sit in a circle, and the game is begun by one of them remarking to the next, "My ship has come home from China." The answer is "Yes, and what has it brought?" The first player replies, "A fan," and begins to fan herself with her right hand. All the players must copy her. The second player then turns to the third (all still fanning) and remarks, "My ship has come home from China." "Yes, and what has it brought?" "Two fans." All the players then fan themselves with both hands. The third player, to the fourth (all still fanning), "My ship has come home from China." "Yes, and what has it brought?" "Three fans." All the players then add a nodding head to their other movements. And so on, until when "Nine fans" is reached, heads, eyes, mouth, hands, feet and body are all moving. The answers and movements of this game may be varied. Thus the second answer to the question "And what has it brought" might be "A bicycle," when the feet of all the players would have to move as if working pedals; the third answer could be a "snuff-box," which should set all the players sneezing; and so on. A typewriter, a piano, a barrel-organ, a football, would vary the game.


This test of self-control is rather a favorite; but it is not so much a game as a means of distributing forfeits. The players sit in a circle. One then stands up and, holding out a stick, repeats these lines—

Buff says Buff to all his men, And I say Buff to you again. Buff never laughs, Buff never smiles, In spite of all your cunning wiles, But carries his face With a very good grace, And passes his stick to the very next place.

This must be said without laughing or smiling. Each player in turn holds the stick and repeats the verses, those that laugh or smile having, when it is over, to pay a forfeit.

The Ditto Game

This is another game in which laughter is forbidden. The players sit close together in a silent circle. Whatever the leader does the others have to do, but without smile or sound. Perhaps the leader will begin by pulling the next player's hair, and pass on to pat her cheek, or prod her sides, or pinch her nose.


Another trial of composure. The players choose what positions they will and become as still and as silent as statues. One player is judge. It is his business to try and make the statues laugh. All who laugh pay forfeits; but the one who keeps his face grave longest becomes "Judge."


"Laughter" is just the opposite. The company sit in a circle and the game is begun by one throwing a handkerchief into the air. Immediately this is done every one must begin to laugh and continue to laugh until the handkerchief touches the ground. They must then stop or leave the circle. Gradually all will leave but one, who must then perform by himself, if he is willing.

The Concerted Sneeze

One third of the company agree to say "Hish" all together at a given signal, another third agree to say "Hash," and the rest agree to say "Hosh." The word of command is then given, and the result is the sound as of a tremendous sneeze.


In "Bingo" the players begin by joining hands and marching round, singing—

There was a farmer had a dog His name was Bobby Bingo O. B, I, N, G, O, B, I, N, G, O, B, I, N, G, O, And Bingo was his name O!

The players then loose hands, the girls go inside the ring and stand there, and the boys run round them singing the rhyme again. Then the boys go inside and the girls run round them and sing it. And then hands are taken once more and all go round in the original circle singing it a fourth time. If no boys are playing, the girls should arrange, before the game begins, which shall personate them.

Robin's Alive

A good game for the fireside is "Robin's Alive." There are so few children nowadays who have fireplaces that this can be modified so that it is a good evening game for any quiet group of children. Some one lights a piece of twisted paper or a stick of wood, twirls it rapidly in the air to keep it burning and says, as fast as he can,

Robin's alive, and alive he shall be If he dies in my hand you may back-saddle me,

and at once passes the paper on to the next player who in turn recites the verse. The one in whose hand it finally goes out is "back-saddled" in this way. He lies down on the floor and the others pile cushions and chairs and books on him while he repeats,

Rocks and stones and the old horse's bones All this and more you may pile upon me.

The Mulberry Bush

The players join hands and go round and round in a ring, singing—

Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, Here we go round the mulberry bush On a fine and frosty morning.

They then let go hands and sing—

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, This is the way we wash our clothes On a fine and frosty morning,

and as they sing they pretend to be washing. After the verse is done they join hands again and dance round to the singing of the mulberry bush chorus again, and so on after each verse. The other verses are—

(2) This is the way we iron our clothes. (3) This is the way we wash our face. (4) This is the way we comb our hair. (5) This is the way we go to school (very sadly). (6) This is the way we learn our book. (7) This is the way we sew our seams.

And lastly and very gaily—

(8) This is the way we come from school,

and then the chorus comes again, and the game is done.

Looby, Looby

This is another of the old country games in which the players all have to do the same things. They first join hands and dance round, singing—

Here we dance Looby, looby, Here we dance Looby light, Here we dance Looby, looby, All on a Saturday night.

Then, letting go of hands and standing still, they sing—

Put your right hands in, Put your right hands out, Shake them and shake them a little, And turn yourselves about,

and at the same time they do what the song directs. Then the dance and chorus again, and then the next verse, and so on. This is the order—

(2) Put your left hands in. (3) Put your right feet in. (4) Put your left feet in. (5) Put your noddles in.

And finally—

Put your bodies in, Put your bodies out, Shake them and shake them a little, And turn yourselves about.


An ear-splitting game that is always great fun. The players stand in rows before the leader or "conductor," who sings a verse from any well-known nonsense or other song. Then he says, pointing to one of the players, "and the first violin played this simple melody," whereupon the two sing the verse over again, the player imitating with his arms the movements of a violin player, and with his voice the sound of a squeaking fiddle. Then the conductor says, pointing to another player, "and the big trombone played this simple melody." Then the three sing together, the second player imitating the sound of a trombone and the appearance of a trombone player. This is continued until every one is playing on an imaginary instrument, the conductor, of course, being the only one who sings the words of the song.

A Good Fat Hen

A nonsensical game, useful in leading to forfeits. The company sit in a row, and one of the end players begins by saying, "A good fat hen." Each of the others in turn must then say, "A good fat hen." The first player then says, "Two ducks and a good fat hen," and the words pass down the line. Then "Three squawking wild geese, two ducks, and a good fat hen." And so on until the end is reached, in the following order—

Fourth round.—Prefix: Four plump partridges. Fifth round.— " Five pouting pigeons. Sixth round.— " Six long-legged cranes. Seventh round.— " Seven green parrots. Eighth round.— " Eight screeching owls. Ninth round.— " Nine ugly turkey-buzzards. Tenth round.— " Ten bald eagles.

The sentence has now reached a very difficult length:—"Ten bald eagles, nine ugly turkey-buzzards, eight screeching owls, seven green parrots, six long-legged cranes, five pouting pigeons, four plump partridges, three squawking wild geese, two ducks and a good fat hen." Any one making a mistake may be made to pay a forfeit.

John Ball

The same game may be played also with "The House that Jack Built," and there are other stories of a similar kind. Among these the most amusing for a large party would perhaps be the old rhyme of "John Ball."

First round.— John Ball shot them all. Second round.— John Block made the stock, But John Ball shot them all. Third round.— John Brammer made the rammer, John Block made the stock, But John Ball shot them all. Fourth round.— John Wyming made the priming, John Brammer made the rammer, John Block made the stock, But John Ball shot them all. Fifth round.— John Scott made the shot.... Sixth round.— John Crowder made the powder.... Seventh round.— John Puzzle made the muzzle.... Eighth round.— John Farrell made the barrel.... Ninth round.— John Clint made the flint.... Tenth round.— John Patch made the match....

In the tenth round, then, each player has to say—

John Patch made the match, John Clint made the flint, John Farrell made the barrel, John Puzzle made the muzzle, John Crowder made the powder, John Scott made the shot, John Wyming made the priming, John Brammer made the rammer, John Block made the stock, But John Ball shot them all.


There is also the old rhyme of "Chitterbob," but it is usual in repeating this to say it all at once, in one round, and not prolong the task. This is the rhyme:—

There was a man and his name was Cob He had a wife and her name was Mob, He had a dog and his name was Bob, She had a cat and her name was Chitterbob. "Bob," says Cob; "Chitterbob," says Mob. Bob was Cob's dog, Mob's cat was Chitterbob, Cob, Mob, Bob, and Chitterbob.

In the old way of playing "Chitterbob" a paper horn used to be twisted into the player's hair for each mistake made in the recitation, and at the end these horns could be got rid of only by paying forfeits.

The Muffin Man

"The Muffin Man" is another variety. The players sit in a circle, and the game is begun by one of them turning to the next and asking, either in speech or in song—

Oh, do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man? Oh, do you know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane?

The reply is—

Oh, yes I know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man, Oh, yes I know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane.

Both players then repeat together—

Then two of us know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man, Then two of us know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane.

This done, the second player turns to the third and the same question and answer are given; but when it comes to the comment—

Then three of us know the muffin man,...

the first player also joins in. At the end therefore, if there are eight people playing, the whole company is singing—

Then eight of us know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man, Then eight of us know the muffin man who lives in Drury Lane.

Family Coach

In "Family Coach" each player takes the name of a part of a coach, as the axle, the door, the box, the reins, the whip, the wheels, the horn; or of some one connected with it, as the driver, the guard, the ostlers, the landlord, the bad-tempered passenger, the cheerful passenger, the passenger who made puns, the old lady with the bundle, and the horses—wheelers and leaders. One player then tells a story about the coach, bringing in as many of these people and things as he can, and as often. Whenever a person or thing represented by a player is mentioned, that player must stand up and turn round. But whenever the coach is mentioned the whole company must stand up and turn round. Otherwise, forfeits. A specimen story is here given as a hint as to the kind of thing needed:—

"There's the railway, of course," said Mr. Burly, "and there's the motor wagonette, and you've all got bicycles; but let's go to London in the old-fashioned way for once; let's go in the Family Coach." These words delighted everybody. "Oh, yes," they all cried, "let's go in the Family Coach." It was therefore arranged, and John the Coachman had orders to get everything ready. This was no light matter, for the Family Coach had not been used for many years, and it would need to be taken to the coachbuilder's at once and be overhauled. So the next morning it lumbered off, and it did not come back for a week; but when it did there was a change indeed. The wheels had been painted red, the axles had been tested, the springs renewed, the inside re-lined, the roof freshly upholstered, and the whole made bright and gay. At last the morning came, a clear, sunny day, and punctually at nine John rattled up to the door. The horses stood there pawing the ground, as if ready to gallop all the way. John had a new coat and hat, and Tim and Peter, the grooms, were also in new livery. Every one was ready. First came Mr. Burly in a wonderful great overcoat, and then Mrs. Burly in furs. Then Uncle Joshua, then Aunt Penelope, and then the three girls and two boys. How they all found room I don't know, but they did. "Are we all ready?" said Mr. Burly. "All ready," said Uncle Joshua. So Tim and Peter sprang away from the horses' heads, crack went the whip, round went the wheels, Uncle Joshua blew the horn, and the old Family Coach was fairly on its journey.

It was a splendid ride. John kept his horses going at a grand pace and hardly used the whip at all, the wheels ran smoothly over the road, and whenever we passed through a village Uncle Joshua blew the horn. We stopped at Thornminster for lunch. John brought us up to the inn door in style, and the landlord came out rubbing his hands and helped Mrs. Burly and Aunt Penelope down with a flourish. "Proud to see you, sir," he said to Mr. Burly. "It is seldom enough that folks travel nowadays in an old Family Coach. I wish there were more of them."

After lunch we went along in the same splendid way until suddenly round a corner came a donkey-cart with the donkey braying at the top of his voice. John pulled the horses well over to the side, but the braying was too much for them, and they rolled into the ditch. In a moment the old Family Coach was overturned. Mr. Burly was shot into the field across the hedge, Uncle Joshua, grasping the horn, landed in a pond, John and Aunt Penelope, Mrs. Burly and the grooms all stuck in the hedge. No one was hurt, but two of the wheels were broken to pieces and one axle was bent, and that was therefore the last of the old Family Coach. So we never got to London in the old way after all.

If this story is not long enough, it can be lengthened. The words in italics are those to be distributed among the company, each player taking more than one if necessary. When the accident comes they might all fall down as they are mentioned. In the case of the wheels and the horses, these may either be taken all four by one player, or eight players may share them. Thus, when the wheels are mentioned, all four players who have taken the wheels would stand up and turn round, and four others when the horses were alluded to.

The Traveler, and the Bicyclist

"The Traveler" is a favorite variety of the "Family Coach." In this game a player with a ready tongue is chosen as traveler, and the others are given such names as landlord, bell-boy, clerk, waiter, chambermaid, electric light, elevator, bed, supper, paper, sitting-room, bedroom, steam-radiator, slippers, and so on. The traveler is then supposed to arrive and give his orders. "Can I have a room to-night? Good. And how soon will supper be ready? Ask the bell-boy to take my satchels up to my room. Show me to my room and send up the papers." And so on, each person named having to stand up or be booked for a forfeit.

This game lends itself to various new forms. One might be called "The Bicyclist" and run thus:—A player having been chosen as the bicyclist, the others take as many bicycling names (or two names each might add to the fun) as there are players. Thus—lamp, wick, oil, handle-bars, spokes, tires, chain, pump, nuts, bell, hedges, fields, sheep, roads, hill, dog. This settled, the bicyclist will begin his story, something in this style:—

It looked so fine this morning that I determined to go for a long ride. So I got out the pump and blew up the tires, put the monkey-wrench to a few nuts, filled the lamp, trimmed the wick, polished up the bell and the handle-bars, and started off. The roads were perfect. The fields were shining with dew, the hedges were sweet with honey-suckle, and I skimmed along like the wind until suddenly, at the turn at the foot of Claymore Hill, I rode bang into a flock of sheep and came down with a smash. You never saw such a ruin. The lamp and bell were lost completely, the handle-bars were twisted into corkscrews, the tires were cut to ribbons, the spokes looked like part of a spider's web, my hands and my knees were cut, and the worst of it was that the shepherd's dog mistook me for an enemy and I had to beat him off with the monkey-wrench, until the farmer heard the noise and came to the rescue.

During this story all the players named would, in the ordinary way, stand up for a moment when their adopted names were mentioned, except at the point when the accident occurs, and then every player bearing the name of a part of the bicycle—the handle-bars, spokes, tires, chain, air-pump, lamp, wick, bell, monkey-wrench, pump, nuts—should fall to the ground.

Drawing-Room Acrobatics

There are various feats which can be performed in a small room without injury to furniture. To lie flat on the floor on one's back and be lifted into an upright position by a pair of hands under the back of the head, keeping stiff all the time, is a favorite accomplishment. Another is to bend over and touch the floor with the tips of the fingers without bending the knees. Another is, keeping your feet behind a line, to see who, by stretching along the ground supported on the left hand only, can place a penny with the right hand the farthest distance and get back again to an upright position behind the line without moving the feet or using the right hand for a support. This done, the penny must be recovered in the same way.

Another feat is, keeping your feet together and one arm behind you, to see how far back from the wall it is possible to place your feet (remembering that you have to get into an upright position again) while you lean forward supported by the other hand laid flat against the wall.

Another is to keep the toes to a line, and kneel down and get up again without using the hands.

Another is to make a bridge of your body from chair to chair, resting the back of your neck on one and your heels on the other. This is done by beginning with three chairs, one under the back, and then when you are rigid enough having the third one removed.

Acrobatic Impossibilities

If you hold your hands across your chest in a straight line with the tips of the forefingers pressed together, it will be impossible for any one else, however strong, to hold by your arms and pull those finger-tips apart.

It is quite safe to stand a person against the wall with his heels touching it, and, laying a shilling on the floor a foot or so is front of him, to say it will be his if he can pick it up without moving his heels from the wall.

Another impossible thing is to stand sideways against the wall with your left cheek, left heel, and left leg touching it, and then raise the right leg.

The Trussed Fowls

In this contest two boys are first trussed. Trussing consists of firmly tying wrists and ankles, bringing the elbows down below the knees and slipping a stick along over one elbow, under both knees and over the other elbow, as in the picture. The game is, for the two fowls to be placed opposite each other with their feet just touching, and for each then to strive to roll the other over with his toes.

The Candle-Lighters

Another balancing game. Two boys face each other, each with a candle, one of which is lighted and the other not. Kneeling on the right knee only and keeping the left leg entirely off the ground, they have to make one candle light the other.

Hat and Cards

A tall hat is placed in the middle of the room and a pack of cards is dealt out to the players seated round it. The game is to throw the cards one by one into the hat.

Tug of War

This is properly an outdoor game, but in a big room indoors it is all right. The two sides should be even in numbers, at any rate in the first pull. In the middle of the rope a handkerchief is tied, and three chalk lines a yard apart are made on the floor. The sides then grasp the rope, the captain of each side, whose duty it is to encourage his men by cheering cries, having his hands about a yard and a half from the handkerchief. The rope is then trimmed by the umpire until the handkerchief comes exactly over the middle one of the three lines. On the word being given, each side has to try and pull the rope so that the handkerchief passes over the chalk line nearest it. The best of three decides the victory. For the sake of sport it is better, if one side is much weaker than the other, to add to it until the balance of strength is pretty even.

High Skip

The players stand in as wide a circle as the size of the room allows, with one player in the middle. He has a rope or heavy cord in his hand with some object, rather heavy but not hard, tied to it, such as a small cushion or a large bunch of rags. Stooping down, he begins swinging this around the circle. As it comes to them the players must jump over the cord. As the cushion is swung faster and faster it goes higher and is more difficult to jump over. The first one to miss takes the place of the person swinging the rope, who is not allowed to raise his hand higher than his knee.

Parlor Football

In this game goals are set up at each end of the room, the players are provided with fans, and the football is a blown hen's egg, which is wafted backward and forward along the floor.


A string is stretched across the room at a height of about three or four feet. The players divide into sides and line up on each side of the string. The balloon is then thrown up, the game being to keep it in the air backward and forward over the string, so that if it falls it will fall in the other side's camp. It ought to be tapped with the back of the fingers and not hit hard.

Tissue-Paper Race

In this game tissue-paper is cut into pieces three or four inches square. As many squares as there are players are placed in a line at one end of the room, and at the other are placed two books, or other objects, a foot or so apart. At the word of command each competitor, who is armed with a Japanese fire-screen or fan, starts to fan his square through the goal-posts. For the sake of distinguishing them it is better to mark the papers or have them of different colors. A competitor may not fan any other square except by accident.

Walking Spanish

This game should not be played unless there are some older, stronger players to prevent possible accidents, but it is very amusing. Each player in turn goes to the end of the room, takes a cane or umbrella, puts his head down on the handle, closes his eyes and, stooping over thus, whirls rapidly about six times, not moving the point of the cane from its original position. Then instantly he straightens up and tries to walk steadily the length of the room along a string laid down or line marked. The one who steps nearest to the line all the time is the winner.

Potato Race

This is a good game for a hall or landing. Two baskets are needed, which are placed at one end of the hall about two yards apart, and then in a line from each basket are placed potatoes, at intervals of a yard or so all down the floor, an equal number to each line. Any even number of competitors can play, the race being run in heats. Each competitor is armed with a long spoon, and his task is to pick up all the potatoes on his line and return them to the basket before his opponent can. Each potato must be carried to the basket in turn, and if dropped on the way must be picked up again before another can be touched, and the spoon only must be used. Any help from the other hand or from the foot disqualifies.


At a fire in the country, where there is no hose, a line of men extends from the burning house to the nearest pond, and buckets are continually being passed along this line. Hence the name by which this excellent game is called here. It is played thus. A large number of miscellaneous and unbreakable articles—balls, boots, potatoes, books, and so on—are divided into two exactly equal groups, and each group is placed in a clothes basket. The company then forms into two equal lines, and each chooses a captain. Each captain stands by the basket at one end of his line, at the other end being a chair and another player standing by that. At the word "Start," the articles are handed one by one by the captain to the first player in the line, and passed as quickly as possible without dropping to the player by the chair. As they come to him he piles them on the chair (without dropping any) until all are there, and then returns them with equal speed until the basket is filled again. The side which finishes first is the winner. If an article is dropped it must be picked up before any other of the articles can pass the player who dropped it.


In many of the games already described mention has been made of "Forfeits." They do not now play quite so important a part in an evening's entertainment as once they did, but they can still add to the interest of games. "Paying a forfeit" means giving up to the player who is collecting forfeits some personal article or other—a knife, a pencil, a handkerchief—which, at the end of the game, or later in the evening, has to be recovered by performing whatever penance is ordered. When the times comes for "crying the forfeits," as it is called, the player who has them sits in a chair, while another player, either blindfolded or hiding her eyes, kneels before her, the remaining players standing all around. The first player then holds up a forfeit, remarking, "I have a thing, and a very pretty thing. Pray what shall be done to the owner of this pretty thing?" To which the blindfolded one replies by asking, "Is it fine or superfine?" meaning, Does it belong to a boy (fine) or a girl (superfine)? The answer is either "It is fine," or "It is superfine," and the blindfolded one then announces what its owner must do to get possession of it again. Of stock penances there are a great number, most of which are tricks which, once known, are necessarily very tame afterward. In the case of those that follow, therefore, something definite and practical is required.

Frown for a minute. Dance for a minute. See how many you can count in a minute. Say the alphabet backward. Do the exact opposite of three things ordered by the company. Crow like a cock. Say "Gig whip" ten times very rapidly. Say "Mixed biscuits" ten times very rapidly. Say rapidly: "She stood on the steps of Burgess's Fish Sauce Shop selling shell fish." Say rapidly: "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper. A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper, where is the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?" Count fifty backward. Repeat a nursery rhyme. Hold your hands behind you, and, keeping them there, lie down and get up again. Hold your hands together and put them under your feet and over your head. Walk round the room balancing three books on your head without using your hands.

Smile to the prettiest, Bow to the wittiest, And kiss the one you love the best.

Yawn until you make some one else yawn. Push your friend's head through a ring. (Put your finger through a ring and push your friend's head with the tip.) Place a straw on the floor so that you can't jump over it. (Very close to the wall.) Put a chair on a table, take off your shoes and jump over them. (Over your shoes.) Leave the room with two legs and come in with six. (Bring in a chair.) Repeat five times without mistake, "A rat ran over the roof of the house with a lump of raw liver in his mouth." Repeat ten times rapidly, "Troy boat." Ask a question to which "no" cannot be answered. (What does y-e-s spell?) Shake a dime off your forehead. (The coin is wet and some one presses it firmly to the forehead of the one to pay the forfeit, who must keep his eyes closed. The dime is taken away, but the forfeit player still feels it there and tries to shake it off.) Repeat a verse of poetry, counting the words aloud. Mary (one) had (two) a (three) little (four) lamb (five). Dance in one corner, cry in another, sing in another, and fall dead in the fourth.

Two forfeits may be redeemed at once by blindfolding two players, handing them each a glass of water, and bidding them give the other a drink. This, however, can be a very damp business.

The old way of getting rid of a large number of forfeits was to tell their owners to hold a cats' concert, in which each sings a different song at the same time. Perhaps it would be less noisy and more interesting if they were told to personate a farm-yard.

Auctioning Prizes

A novel way of awarding prizes is to auction them. Each guest on arrival is given a small bag instead of a tally card. These bags are used to hold beans, five of which are given to all the players that progress at the end of each game. After the playing stops the prizes are auctioned. Of course the person who has the greatest number of beans can buy the best prizes; so that besides making a great deal of fun, the distribution is entirely fair.


Many persons, when a drawing game is suggested, ask to be excused on the ground of an inability to draw. But in none of the games that are described in this chapter is any real drawing power necessary. The object of each game being not to produce good drawings but to produce good fun, a bad drawing is much more likely to lead to laughter than a good one.

Five Dots

All children who like drawing like this game; but it is particularly good to play with a real artist, if you have one among your friends. You take a piece of paper and make five dots on it, wherever you like—scattered about far apart, close together (but not too close), or even in a straight line. The other player's task is to fit in a drawing of a person with one of these dots at his head, two at his hands, and two at his feet, as in the examples on page 48.

Outlines or Wiggles

Another form of "Five Dots" is "Outlines." Instead of dots a line, straight, zigzag, or curved, is made at random on the paper. Papers are then exchanged and this line must be fitted naturally into a picture, as in the examples on page 49.

A good way to play Wiggles when there are a number of people to play, is to mark the same line for all the players, either by pressing down very hard with a hard pencil so that the line can be traced from one piece of paper to another, or with carbon copy paper between the sheets. Thus each person has the same line, and the one who uses his in the most fantastic and unexpected way is the winner. The only rule about making the line is that a circle shall not be made. The two ends must be left ready to add the rest of the design. It is well sometimes to limit the pictures to human faces, as this makes the grotesque unlikeness of the drawings all the more absurd.

Eyes-Shut Drawings

The usual thing to draw with shut eyes is a pig, but any animal will do as well (or almost as well, for perhaps the pig's curly tail just puts him in the first place). Why it should be so funny a game it is difficult quite to explain, but people laugh more loudly over it than over anything else. There is one lady at least who keeps a visitor's book in which every one that stays at her house has to draw an eyes-shut pig. The drawings are signed, and the date is added. Such a guest book is now manufactured, bound in pig skin, or in cloth.

"Ghosts of My Friends"

While on the subject of novel albums the "Ghost of My Friends" might be mentioned. The "ghost" is the effect produced by writing one's signature with plenty of ink, and while the ink is still very wet, folding the paper down the middle of the name, lengthwise, and pressing the two sides firmly together. The result is a curious symmetrically-shaped figure. Some people prefer "ghosts" to ordinary signatures in a visitors' book.

The "Book of Butterflies" is on the same order. With the book come four tubes of paint. The paint is squeezed on the page, which is doubled and flattened. The effects are very beautiful, and surprisingly lifelike.

Another guest book is the "Hand-o-graph," in which the outline of the hand of each guest is kept. The "Thumb-o-graph" is on the same principle, except that in this case the imprint of the guest's thumb is preserved, made from an ink pad supplied with the book.

A remarkable collection can be made of ink-blot pictures. A drop of ink, either round as it naturally falls, or slightly lengthened with a pen, is dropped on paper which is then folded smartly together and rubbed flat. The most surprising designs are the result, some of which, aided a little by the pen, look like landscapes, figures and complicated geometric designs.

Drawing Tricks

Six drawing tricks are illustrated on this page. One (1) is the picture of a soldier and a dog leaving a room, drawn with three strokes of the pencil. Another (3) is a sailor, drawn with two squares, two circles, and two triangles. Another (5), Henry VIII, drawn with a square and nine straight lines. Another (6), invented for this book, an Esquimaux waiting to harpoon a seal, drawn with eleven circles and a straight line. The remaining figures are a cheerful pig and a despondent pig (4), and a cat (2), drawn with the utmost possible simplicity.

Composite Animals

In this game the first player writes the name of an animal at the top of the paper and folds it over. The next writes another, and so on until you have four, or even five. You then unfold the papers and draw animals containing some feature of each of those named.

Invented Animals

A variation of this game is for the players to draw and describe a new creature. On one occasion when this game was played every one went for names to the commoner advertisements. The best animal produced was the Hairy Coco, the description of which stated, among other things, that it was fourteen feet long and had fourteen long feet.

A good guessing contest is to supply every person with a slip of paper on which is written the name of an animal. He draws a picture of it and these pictures are all exhibited signed with the artist's name. The person who guesses correctly the subjects of the greatest number of them wins.

Heads, Bodies, and Tails

For this game sheets of paper are handed round and each player draws at the top of his sheet a head. It does not matter in the least whether it is a human being's or a fish's head, a quadruped's, a bird's, or an insect's. The paper is then turned down, two little marks are made to show where the neck and body should join, and the paper is passed on for the body to be supplied. Here again it does not matter what kind of body is chosen. The paper is then folded again, marks are made to show where the legs (or tail) ought to begin, and the paper is passed on again. After the legs are drawn the picture is finished.

Pictures to Order

Each player sits, pencil in hand, before a blank sheet of paper, his object being to make a picture containing things chosen by the company in turn. The first player then names the thing that he wants in the picture. Perhaps it is a tree. He therefore says, "Draw a tree," when all the players, himself included, draw a tree. Perhaps the next says, "Draw a boy climbing the tree"; the next, "Draw a balloon caught in the top branches"; the next, "Draw two little girls looking up at the balloon"; and so on, until the picture is full enough. The chief interest of this game resides in the difficulty of finding a place for everything that has to be put in the picture. A comparison of the drawings afterward is usually amusing.

Hieroglyphics, or Picture-Writing

As a change from ordinary letter-writing, "Hieroglyphics" are amusing and interesting to make. The best explanation is an example, such as is given on pages 52 and 53, the subject being two verses from a favorite nursery song.

Pictures and Titles

Each player draws on the upper half of the paper an historical scene, whether from history proper or from family history, and appends the title, writing it along the bottom of the paper and folding it over. The drawings are then passed on and each player writes above the artist's fold (or on another sheet of paper) what he thinks they are meant to represent, and folds the paper over what he has written. In the accompanying example the title at the bottom of the paper is what the draughtsman himself wrote; the others are the other players' guesses.


Many of the games under this heading look harder than they really are. But the mere suggestion of a writing game is often enough to frighten away timid players who mistrust their powers of composition—although the result can be as funny when these powers are small as when they are considerable. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.

Simple Acrostics

There are "Simple Acrostics" and "Double Acrostics." The simple ones are very simple. When the players are all ready a word is chosen by one of them, either from thought or by looking at a book and taking the first promising one that occurs. Perhaps it is "govern." Each player then puts the letters forming "govern" in a line down the paper, and the object of the game is to find, in a given time, words beginning with each of those letters. Thus, at the end of time, one player might have—

G ravy O range V iolet E sther R obin N umbskull

The players then describe their words in turn, one letter going the round before the next is reached, and from these descriptions the words have to be guessed, either by any player who likes or by the players in turn. The player whose paper we have quoted might describe his words like this: G—— "Something that makes hot beef nice"; O—— "A fruit"; V—— "A flower"; E—— "A girl's name"; R—— "A bird"; and N—— "A name for a silly person." If any one else has the same word neither of you can score it, and it is therefore important to seek for the most unlikely words.

Another way of playing "Simple Acrostics" is to insist on each word being the same length. Thus "govern" might be filled in by one player thus:—

G rave O ddly V erse E arth R ebel N inth

Double Acrostics

In "Double Acrostics" the game is played in precisely the same way, except that the letters of the word, after having been arranged in a line down the paper, are then arranged again in a line up the paper, so that the first letter is opposite the last, and the last opposite the first. Thus:—


The players have then to fill in words beginning and ending with the letters as thus arranged. One paper might come out thus:—

G rai N O rde R V ersatil E E ... V R apall O N othin G

This word is rather a hard one on account of the E and V. As a rule, words of only three letters are not allowed in "Acrostics," nor are plurals. That is to say, if the word has to end in "S," one must not simply add "S" to an ordinary word, such as "grooms" for G——S, but find a word ending naturally in "S," such as "Genesis."

It is not necessary to invert the same word in order to get letters for the ends of the words. Two words of equal length can be chosen and arranged side by side. Thus (but this is almost too difficult an example):—


"Acrostics" may be made more difficult and interesting by giving them a distinct character. Thus, it may be decided that all the words that are filled in must be geographical, or literary, or relating to flowers.


"Fives" is a game which is a test also of one's store of information. A letter is chosen, say T, and for a given time, ten minutes perhaps, the players write down as many names of animals beginning with T as they can think of. The first player then reads his list, marking those words that no one else has and crossing off all that are also on other players' papers. Then the names of vegetables (including flowers, trees, and fruit) are taken; then minerals; then persons; and then places. The player who has most marks wins the game.

A variety of this game is to take a long word, say "extraordinary," and within a given time to see how many smaller words can be made from it, such as tax, tin, tea, tear, tare, tray, din, dray, dairy, road, rat, raid, and so on.


"Lists" is a variety of "Fives." Paper is provided, and each player in turn calls out something which the whole company write down. Thus, suppose there are five players and you decide to go round three times: the first may say a river; the second, a doctor; the third, a complaint; the fourth, a play; the fifth, a State in the Union; the first again, a musical instrument; the second again, a poet; and so on, until the fifteen things are all written down. Each paper will then have the same list of fifteen things upon it. One of the company then opens a book at random, and chooses, say, the first letter of the third word in the first line. Perhaps it is T. For a given time each player has to supply his list with answers beginning with T. At the call of time one of the papers may present this appearance:—

A river Tees A doctor. Mr. Treves A complaint Tic Doloreux A play Timon of Athens A state in the Union Tennessee A musical instrument Trombone A poet Tennyson A flower Trefoil A mineral Tin A lake Tanganyika A tree Tulip A country Turkey An author Trollope An artist Tadema A preacher Talmage

Each player in turn reads his list aloud, strikes off those words that others also have, and puts a mark against the rest. The specimen list here given is too simple to be called a good one. Players should reject the first thing that comes into their thoughts, in favor of something less natural.

Buried Names

The first thing for the players to do is to decide what kind of name they will bury. The best way is to call out something in turn. Thus, if there are four players they may decide to bury the name of an author, a girl, a town, and a river. Each player writes these down and a fixed time is given for burial, which consists in writing a sentence that shall contain the name somewhere spelled rightly but spread over two words, or three if possible. At the end of the time the sentences are read aloud in turn, while the others guess. Of course, the whole game may be given up to burying only one kind of name, but variety is perhaps better. Examples are given:—

An author: I like to keep the yew in good order. A girl: The boy was cruel, lazy and obstinate. A town: Clothes that are new have no need of brushing. A river: To see spoilt ham especially annoys me.

It is permissible to bury the name in the middle of one longer word, but it is better to spread it over two or three. Perhaps the best example of a buried English town is this: "The Queen of Sheba sings to keep her spirits up." This is good, because the sentence is natural, because of the unusual number of words that are made use of in the burial, and because in reading it aloud the sound of the buried town is not suggested.

Letters and Telegrams

In this game you begin with the Letter. The first thing to write is the address and "My dear ——," choosing whomever you like, but usually, as in "Consequences," either a public person or some one known, if possible, to every one present. The paper is then folded over and passed on. The next thing to write is the letter itself, which should be limited to two minutes or some short period, and should be the kind of letter that requires a reply. The paper is folded and passed on again, and the subscription, "Believe me yours sincerely," or whatever adverb you choose, and the signature are then added. (These may be divided into two separate writings if you like.) The signature should be that of another public person, or friend, relation or acquaintance of the family. The paper is then passed on once more, and a reply to the letter, in the form of a telegram, is written. That is to say, you must say as much as you can in ten words. Example:—


The first player writes:—My dear Buffalo Bill. The second player writes:—Can you give me any information about suitable songs for our village choir? The third player writes:—Believe me yours slavishly. The fourth player writes:—Kitchener of Khartoum.


The fifth player writes:—Be with you to-morrow. Have sheets aired. Am bringing everything.


There is also the game of "Telegrams." In this the first thing to write is the name of the person sending the telegram. The paper is then passed on, and the name of the person to whom it is sent is written. The papers are then passed on again and opened, and the players in turn each say a letter of the alphabet, chosen at random, until there are ten. As these are spoken, each player writes them on the paper before him, leaving a space after it; so that when the ten are all written down his paper may look like this:—


H ... A ... P ... N ... W ... E ... K ... S ... F ... T ...

A period of five minutes or more is then allowed in which to complete the telegram, the message having to be ten words long, and each word to begin, in the same order, with these letters. The players should, as far as possible, make the telegrams reasonable, if not possible. Thus, the form given above might, when finished, read like this:—


Have Awning Prepared Next Wednesday Evening Kindly Send Five Tickets

In calling out the ten letters which are to be used in the telegram, it is well to avoid the unusual consonants and to have a vowel here and there.

An amusing variety is for all the players to compose telegrams on the same subject; the subject being given beforehand. Thus it might be decided that all the telegrams should be sent from President Roosevelt to Alice in Wonderland asking for her views on the tariff. Then having completed these messages, the answers may also be prepared, using the same letters. But, of course, as in all games, family matters work out more amusingly than public ones.


Paper is handed round, and each player thinks of some public person, or friend or acquaintance of the company, and writes in full his or her Christian name (or names) and surname. Then, for, say, five minutes, a character sketch of the person chosen has to be composed, each word of which begins with the initial letter of each of the person's names, repeated in their right order until the supply of thought gives out or time is up. Thus, suppose the person chosen is Frank Richard Stockton, the story writer. The character sketch might run:—

F ancifully R ecounts S trange F reakish R omantic S tories. F inds R isibility S urely. F requently R aises S miles.

An occasional "and" and "of" may be dropped in if necessary. Where one of the names begins with a vowel (such as William Ewart Gladstone) the character sketch can be made to run more easily.

It is sometimes more amusing to give every one the same names to work on; and in some houses the players are not allowed to choose names for themselves, but must pass the paper on. The characters of towns and nations may be written in the same way, using all the letters of the word as the initials.


A more difficult game is "Riddles." At the top of the paper is written anything that you can think of: "A soldier," "A new dress," "A fit of the blues," "A railway accident"—anything that suggests itself. The paper is passed on and anything else is written, no matter what. It is passed on again and opened. Suppose that the two things written on it are, first, "A school-teacher," and second, "A pair of skates." The duty of the player is to treat them as a riddle, and, asking the question either as "Why is a school-teacher like a pair of skates?" or "What is the difference between a school-teacher and a pair of skates?" (whichever way one prefers), to supply a reasonable answer. This game, it will be seen, is suited particularly to clever people.

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