Put playtime on rewind

Jun 01, 2012, 11:08 IST | Phorum Dalal

Once upon a time, in a land without PS3s, Xboxes and Nintendo Wiis, we made up imaginative games that filled vacations with lively fun. Here's a quick tour for kids who have stuck the passe tag onto some of these awesome playtime wonders. Try a few before school starts again, says PHORUM DALAL

Spinning top

One of the oldest toys known to man, a spinning top is the perfect example of simple pleasures. A string and top was all you needed to hold the attention span of kids for hours. A well-practised tug at the thread will send your top whirling away to glory. Compete with your friends by timing whose top spins the longest. Try spinning on different surfaces, including your palm. Warning: It’s a lose-lose situation for those with ticklish skin.

Dog and the bone

This game was a hit at birthday parties. It requires two teams of an equal number of players. One player from each team fights it out to snatch a handkerchief (the bone) placed on the floor in the shape of a cone, which he/she then has to take to the team. This involved many sly manuevers and false alarms as we circled the hanky before making our move. If the player is caught by the opponent while running towards his team, the hanky has to be dropped and the round starts again.

Blind man’s buff

The denner (seeker) is blindfolded and led into a room where players have to dodge him / her. Played in a spacious room or compound, he/she has to catch players without being able to see them, while they scatter and try to avoid him/her.

There’s scope for cheating if the blindfold is transparent, which allows the denner to spot silhouettes. Players indulge in teasing to make the denner change direction.


Collecting colourful speckled marbles, bartering them for new ones, and playing with them — the game of marbles is one of the most exciting yet simple ones that consumed hours of our childhood. Use your middle and index fingers to toss a marble and take turns knocking the opponent’s marbles out of the playing field.

Dark room

This game usually kept us (and our neighbours) awake till the wee hours of the morning. As the name suggests, it is played in a room, in the dark. All players hide in a room — under the bed, behind the curtain and inside the closet — and once they are well-hidden, the ‘denner’ (seeker) is called in to find each one. The first person caught has to play the denner in the next round. A tweak in the game is to play moving dark room, where players are allowed to move around.

Tippy tippy tap: What colour do you choose?

If you thought it was only girls who played this, we know a lot of schoolboys (investment bankers today) who roamed the school corridors with one in their pockets at all times. Take a square sheet of paper. Fold each corner into the centre. Now, turn over the paper and repeat the procedure. Fold the sheet into half. Four flaps are created, on the inside of which you write little messages. Colour them in different shades, slip your thumbs and forefingers in, and your Tippy Tippy Tap is ready. 

Secret letters

If you always wanted to be a sleuth, here’s an easy way to start. Take a sheet of paper, a bird’s feather (or pen), and dip it in lemon juice. Write a secret note that only your best friend will be able to decipher. The trick is to read it in sunlight, or heat the paper by placing it against a bulb till the writing turns brown and reveals itself.

Cup phones

Be a mini Graham Bell and make your own telephone. Take two thermocol cups and poke a small hole in each.
Pass a string through the holes and tie a knot. Make sure the string is held straight and tight. Hold the cup up to your mouth and talk into it. Have your friend hold the other end to his / her ear and listen.

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