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My Book of Indoor Games by Clarence Squareman

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* * * * *


1. March winds whistling through the trees. Inhale a deep breath and
imitate the wind.

2. Keeping a feather in the air. Run with head back and blow short
breaths, keeping an imaginary feather from falling to the ground.

3. Making Ocean Waves. By blowing the water in a large basin.

* * * * *


Four farmers are in their home in the country enjoying a quiet

They hear a sound outside, they watch and listen and decide that the
foxes are near the cabin. They wait until they are very close, then
give chase--and catch as many as they can before the foxes have
reached their home in the forest. All caught become farmers and help
to catch the rest.

* * * * *


The players join hands to form a circle. About ten erasers are placed
in the center of the circle, with spaces between them through which a
player might step. The players then try by means of pushing or pulling
their comrades by means of clasped hands, to make them knock over the
erasers. Any player who knocks over an eraser or who unclasps hands
must take his seat, the erasers again being replaced. The first
players so leaving the circle form a scrub circle. The player wins who
remains longest in the first circle.

* * * * *


All the pupils are seated except one. The odd player walks or runs
through the aisles, touching some player, and runs around the room
in the direction he is going. The one touched immediately leaves his
seat, and runs around the room in the opposite direction. The first
one back in the empty seat wins.

Dodging through the aisles to shorten the distance is not allowed. The
run must be around the outside of the room.

* * * * *


All players form in a straight line. Grasp just above ankles and on
"Go," run a very short distance and return, keeping hold above ankles
all the time.

* * * * *


Hands in position in front, as though grasping the handle-bars,
running in place with lifting the knee high and pointing toe to the
ground. The same movement, traveling forward with short, quick steps.

* * * * *


Children form a circle around the room, with hands joined. A "cat"
is chosen to stand outside the circle, a "rat" to stand inside. The
players are friends of the rat, and raise their arms to let him under,
but keep them down when the cat tries to get through. The cat chases
the rat in and out of the circle, among desks and over seats, till the
"rat" is caught, when a new cat and rat are chosen.

* * * * *


This makes a splendid combination exercise. Swing the arms in a large
circle, as though swinging the rope, and jump each time that the
rope comes down. Travel forward with the same exercises, jumping and
landing on one foot instead of both.

* * * * *


The children stand or sit in one line. One is teacher and he or she
throws a bean bag or soft ball in rotation down the line, the child
missing goes to the front. When the teacher misses he or she goes to
the foot and the child at the head becomes teacher. No bad or swift
throws are counted.

* * * * *


This game is a great favorite with all the children, even in the upper
grades. Two players are chosen as bird-catchers, and stand in one
corner of the room. The "mother-bird" is chosen to stand in another
"nest" in the other front corner of the room. The other players are
named in groups (those in one row of seats usually) for various birds,
"robins," "wrens," etc. As the name of each group of birds is
called, they go to the back of the room, and, at a signal, run to the
"mother-bird's nest." The bird-catchers try to catch them before they
reach it. The "birds" dodge in and out among the desks, jumping over
the seats, etc. The mother-bird and bird-catchers count their birds at
the end of the game, and all "fly" back to their seats; that is, wave
their arms and skip to their seats.

* * * * *


The pupils, upon the command of the player who is the leader and
stands in front of the class, fold their arms upon the desk and lower
the head upon the arms. The leader has an eraser or other article
which he places upon one of the desks. He commands "Heads up" and the
pupils raise their heads. The one finding the eraser on his seat rises
and chases the leader. If he catches him he becomes the leader; if
not, the first one is again the leader. If they fail to catch him
after two trials he chooses another leader.

* * * * *


A boy places a rubber eraser, or any small object, on the desk of a
girl. She takes the eraser and chases him around the room to his seat.
If she tags him, he goes to the corner to stand, with others who are
caught, till the end of the game. The girl then puts the eraser on a
boy's desk, and the game continues.

* * * * *


Children stand in a circle around the room; one stands in the center,
with a bean bag or ball, and makes quick throws to children in
different parts of the circle.

* * * * *


The one starting the game runs and tags someone near and gets to that
child's seat as quickly as he can. The child tries to tag him on the
way. If he tags him the one tagged must go in the mush pot, that is,
to go to the front of the room and sit down. The one who caught him
continues the game, and when another one gets in the mush pot the
first one is permitted to take his seat. The game continues until all
have had a run.

The runs should all be very short to make the game go quickly.

* * * * *


Children stand by desks. A tennis or soft rubber ball is thrown among
the players. The child hit sits and is out of the game. The child
standing near where the ball falls throws it the next time.

* * * * *


Children stand in rows, facing each other, two rows of desks between
them, those on one side having bean bags. On the teacher's counts they
throw to those in the row opposite, throwing and catching with both
hands. After a given number of throws, they put the left hand behind
them, throwing and catching with the right hand; the same with the
left hand. This is good muscular training.

* * * * *


Players divide into equal groups. One group forms a circle, the other
within. Outside group has a volley or an outdoor baseball with which
they try to hit the one's (players) within. As soon as one is hit he
must immediately join the circle and help hit the others. When all
have been tagged in this way, groups change places and repeat. The
two players who were last to be hit in the two games are captains to
choose up for the next time.

* * * * *


Played much like "Three Deep." Players stand in couples, facing each
other, couples scattered in any way around the room. The runner is
free from being tagged when he steps between the two players of any
couple, and the chaser must chase the one toward whom the runner turns
his back.

* * * * *


Choose a player to be fox and another to be the mother hen. The
players are the chickens and all form in a line behind the mother hen,
and each one grasping the waist of the one in front. The fox tries to
tag the last chicken; the line, led by the mother hen, turns and tries
to keep between the fox and that chicken. When the last chicken is
tagged he becomes fox, and the mother hen chooses another player in
her place.

* * * * *


Place an eraser on the front desk of alternate rows. At a signal to
start the first child in each row takes the eraser in both hands and
passes it over his head to the child behind him. This continues till
the last child receives it. The last child runs forward with it,
running down the right aisle. On reaching the front seat, his entire
row moves one seat backward, so as to leave an empty seat in front.
The runner then sits down in the empty seat and passes the eraser
backward with both hands as before stated.

The changing of seats should be on the left side.

The game ends when each child is returned to his own seat.

* * * * *


Mark a circle on floor in front of desks. Choose a player to be "it."
He stands near but not in the circle and calls the names of three
players. The players must rise and try to reach the circle without
being tagged. They run in any style in either direction.

The first one tagged is "it" and the game continues as before. If none
are caught, three more are named. Encourage naming players who have
not been called.

* * * * *


Players all in single file, teacher leading. Each player reaches right
hand forward to player next in front and left hand back, grasping
hands. March forward, circling to left and winding up into a spiral.
When tightly wound, last player should lead, all turn about to left
and wind up, circling to right. Several variations should be used

1. Same as first method without grasping hands.

2. When wound as far as possible and leave enough space, teach circles
right from center of spiral and line follows, passing out in a reverse
spiral; this is done first grasping hands and later without.

3. When leader reaches center of spiral, tight wound, she signals to
players in some direction and they lift arms, forming arches, under
which the line may pass, teacher leading, hands are kept grasped in
this case.

* * * * *



Similar to "School Ball." A leader is chosen for each group of eight
or ten players, the players in a line and the leader eight or ten feet
away at the side. A row in the school-room may be taken as a group,
with a leader standing in front. The leader tosses the ball or bean
bag to the players in turn, beginning at the head. Any player missing
goes to the foot. If the leader misses he goes to the foot and the
one at the head becomes leader. If the ball goes twice around and the
leader does not miss, he goes in the line just above those who have
missed and the head player becomes leader.

* * * * *


The competing rows must be placed where there is a blackboard at the
front of each row. First player of each row has a piece of chalk. At
the signal he runs to the board and makes a mark with the chalk, then
he returns to his seat, and hands the chalk to the next player, who
runs and marks in his turn. Later, players may be required to make
a cross, circles, capital letters, small letters, add columns of
numbers, write words, construct sentences. The teacher is the judge
as to whether the marks come up to the requirements, and each team is
charged with a foul for each defect.

* * * * *


This is like "Racing" (See First Grade), but more continuous. Two or
more rows compete. The player in the back seat rises at a signal from
the teacher, runs forward down the aisle, tags the wall at the front
of the room, and returns to his seat. As soon as he has reached his
seat the player next in front of him does the same, the relay being
complete when each player in turn has run. The line whose front player
is seated first wins.

* * * * *


Alternate rows of children are chosen. On a signal from the teacher,
the last children in the alternate rows, run down the aisles, turn to
their left; run down the other aisle, turn on reaching their seats,
and tag the person who sits in front of them. The person tagged does
as the first person did, tagging the person in front only when he
reaches his starting place. Each person running when tagged. Equal
numbers should be chosen for each row. The object of the game is
to see which row is the winner, depending entirely upon alertness,
quickness of mind and honesty in playing with fellow students.

* * * * *


Any one who wishes to play a trick or show off a puzzle should test
it privately, before attempting to show it before company, for often,
owing to some slight error, the trick may at first prove a failure,
whereas a little practice will soon make one perfect.

* * * * *


Get a hard-boiled egg and place it on the reverse side of a smooth
polished plate or bread-platter. If you now turn the plate round while
holding it in a horizontal position, the egg, which is in the middle
of it, will turn round also, and as the pace is quickened, the egg
will move more and more quickly, until it stands up on one end and
spins round like a top. In order to be quite sure that the experiment
will succeed, you should keep the egg upright while it is being
boiled, so that the inside may be hardened in the proper position.

* * * * *


Soak a piece of thread in a solution of salt or alum (of course, your
audience must not know you have done this). When dry, borrow a very
light ring and fix it to the thread. Apply the thread to the flame of
a candle; it will burn to ashes, but will still support the ring.

* * * * *


There are several ways of making a needle float on the surface of the

The simplest way is to place a piece of tissue paper on the water and
lay the needle on it; the paper soon becomes soaked with water and
sinks to the bottom, while the needle is left floating on the top.

Another method is to hang the needle in two slings made of threads,
which must be carefully drawn away as soon as the needle floats.

You can also make the needle float by simply holding it in your
fingers and laying it on the water. This, however, requires a very
steady hand.

If you magnetize a sewing-needle by rubbing it on a fairly strong
magnet and float it on the water, it will make an extremely sensitive
compass; and if you place two needles on the water at the same time,
you will see them slowly approach each other until they float side by
side, that is, if they do not strike together so heavily as to cause
them to sink.

* * * * *


Three knives may be supported by their handles in the following
manner: Place three glasses in a triangle, each side of which must be
about the length of one of the knives. The blade of the first knife
should rest on the blade of the second, by passing over it near to the
point where the handle and blade are joined; the blade of the second
passing in the same manner over the blade of the third, which is to
be made to rest on the blade of the first. The handles being then
carefully placed upon the glasses, a bridge is formed strong enough to
bear a considerable weight.

* * * * *


The articles necessary for the performance of this trick are very
simple, a dinner-fork and an ordinary sized cork being all that are
needed. Fix the cork firmly in the handle of the fork, then stick
the fork into it so that two prongs shall be on each side of the cup
handle, and slope the fork in such a way that its handle will come
under the bottom of the cup. The heaviest weight being thus brought
underneath, you can hold the cup on the point of a knife, if you very
carefully find the exact place on which it will balance.

As the surface of the cup is usually glazed, the hand which holds the
knife must not tremble, or the cup will slip off.

You may also obtain the same result by using two knives instead of a

* * * * *


Take a small cork and ask some one to blow it into a fairly large
sized, ordinary bottle that has a neck.

This seems to be quite an easy matter. The one who tries it will
probably blow as hard as possible upon the little cork; but, instead
of going into the bottle, as expected, it will simply fall down. The
harder the puffs or blows, the more obstinate the cork will appear to
be; and even if the effect of blowing gently be tried, it will be of
no use; the cork will not go into the bottle, much to the amusement
of those who are watching. The reason why the cork will not go in is
this: The bottle being already full of air, when the cork is blown,
more air will be forced into the bottle, and consequently the air
inside will be greatly compressed and will simply force the cork back.
The following is a simple way of overcoming the difficulty: Instead
of trying to force the cork through the compressed air in the bottle,
just the contrary should be tried, that is, some of the air should
be sucked out of the bottle; this being done, the bottle will become
partly emptied, and when the outside air rushes in to fill up the
empty space, it will carry the cork with it to the bottom of the

* * * * *


This is a simple little puzzle. Take eleven strips of cardboard, lay
six of them at exactly equal distances on the table, and ask one of
the company to add the five other strips and yet only make nine. It
is done by placing six of them parallel to each other--the others are
used to spell out the word nine.


* * * * *


Stick a small piece of white wax on the nail of the middle finger of
your right hand, taking care that no one sees you do it. Then place a
dime in the palm of your hand and tell your audience that you can make
it vanish at the word of command.

You then close your hand so that the dime sticks to the waxed nail.
Blow on your hand and make magic passes, and cry "Dime, begone!" Open
your hand so quickly that no one will see the dime stuck to the back
of your nail, and show your empty hand. To make the dime reappear, you
merely close you hand again and rub the dime into your palm.

* * * * *


Roll a snowball and put it on a plate. While rolling, contrive to slip
a piece of camphor into the top of it. The camphor must be about the
size and shape of a chestnut, and it must be pushed into the soft snow
so as to be invisible--the smaller end uppermost, to which the match
should be applied.

* * * * *


For this trick, take a piece, two or three inches long, of a stem of
a clay tobacco pipe, taking care that one end is quite even; with a
knife or file, work the hole at the even end larger, so as to form a
little cup. Choose the roundest pea you can find, place it in the cup,
and blow softly through the other end of the pipe, throwing back
your head while you blow, so that you can hold the pipe in an upright
position over your mouth.

The pea will rise, fall and dance in its cup, according to the degree
of force you use in blowing, but you must take care not to blow too
hard, or you may blow it away altogether.

* * * * *


Place a half-opened penknife on the edge of the table and hang a large
cooking-spoon by its hook on to the knife, just where the blade and
handle join. Place the spoon so that its inner (concave) side is
facing the table and, after swinging for a little while, the knife and
spoon will keep still in perfect balance. Even if you fill the spoon
with sand it will not fall, so long as the heaviest point is under the
edge of the table.

The cooking-spoon is hung on to the half-opened penknife where the
blade and the handle join, and you can now place the end of the
knife-handle on the tip of your finger, on the edge of the table, or
on the rim of a glass which is standing near the edge of the table,
and your knife and spoon will balance perfectly, without falling over.

* * * * *


Get a match and make a notch in the middle of it, bend it so as to
form an acute angle, and place it over the mouth of a bottle.

Now place a dime or other small coin on the match and ask any one to
get the coin into the bottle without touching either the bottle or the

This is very easy to do. Dip your finger in a glass of water, hold it
over the place where the match is notched, and let one or two drops
fall on this point. The force of the water will cause the sides of the
angle to move apart, and the opening thus become large enough to let
the coin fall into the bottle.

* * * * *


This trick requires care and patience. You must lay a piece of
looking-glass on a perfectly even table; then take a new-laid egg and
shake it about for some time until the white is well mixed with the
yolk. In this condition it is possible to balance the egg on its end
and make it stand upright on the glass. This trick is more certain
to be successful if you are clever enough to flatten the end ever so
slightly and evenly, by giving it a gentle and unsuspected tap.

* * * * *


Take a coin in each hand and stretch out your arms as far apart as you
can. Then tell your audience that you will make both coins pass into
one hand without bringing your hands together. This is easily done by
placing one coin upon the table and then turning your body round until
the hand with the other coin comes to where it lies. You can then
easily pick the coin up, and both will be in one hand, while your arms
are still widely extended.

* * * * *


If you fill a wineglass with water and place a thick piece of paper
over it so that no air can get in, you will find that you can turn
the glass upside down without spilling a drop of water, because the
pressure of the air on the outside will keep the paper from falling
off. It is on this principle that the present pendulum is to be made.
Take a piece of cardboard larger than the mouth of the glass; pass a
cord through a small hole in the center of the card, and fasten it by
means of a knot on the under side, then carefully cover the hole with
wax, so that no air may get in.

Place your cardboard over the glass full of water, and by making a
loop in the end of the cord you can hang the glass from a hook in the
ceiling without any fear of its falling off. In order to make sure
that no air can get into the glass, it is wise to smear the rim with
tallow before laying the cardboard on.

* * * * *


Take a piece of elastic which is not covered with silk or wool, and
through the middle of this stick a pin, which you have bent as shown
in the illustration.

Now hold the elastic between the thumb and first finger of each hand
and twirl it round, stretching it a little at the same time. The rapid
movement thus caused will make the revolving pin look like a glass
object, and if you have a strong light falling on the pin and a dark
background behind it, the resemblance becomes very much stronger.

After a little practice you will be able to represent many things in
this way--cheese dishes, vases, champagne glasses, etc.; and if the
bent pin should fall into a horizontal position while revolving, on
account of its shape, you can tie one end to the elastic with a piece
of white thread, which will not in any way interfere with the working.

This trick looks well in a darkened room, when the pin is illuminated
by a ray of sunlight coming through a hole in the window shutter.

* * * * *


This seems to be a plain wooden ball with a hole bored in its center,
through which a string is passed. The ball will move lightly up and
down this cord, but let some one who knows the trick take the string
in his hand and it becomes quite a different matter; the ball will
move quickly, or slowly, at command, and, if told to do so, will stand
still until ordered to move on again.

The reason for this peculiar behavior is that inside the ball there
are two holes, one of which is quite straight, while the other is
curved, and turns out of the straight hole.

It is through this curved passage that the cord is passed, and you
can easily see that to regulate the movements of the ball, it is only
necessary to hold the string more or less tightly. If you hold the
cord perfectly tight, the ball will not be able to move at all. The
ball can be purchased at any top shop.

* * * * *


Put on a coat and vest so that they fasten behind. Then fix a mask
over the back of the head and a wig over the face. The effect is very

* * * * *


To play this trick, you must take one of your friends into your
confidence. Borrow a watch and put it in your pocket, and then ask
your audience to sit at the end of the room, blindfold your friend,
and lead him outside. Now say: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you will give
me some small object to hide, I promise that the blind man will find
it, although I shall not even tell him what he is to look for, and I
shall lower the gas, so that if the bandage should slip, he will
still be unable to see." A key, pencil, or any small thing having been
handed to you, lower the gas and proceed to hide the object, at the
end of the room, mentioning where you have put it, but not mentioning
that you have placed the watch close beside it. You then request
"Silence" and lead in the blind man and ask him to begin his search.
He is guided, of course, by the ticking of the watch, and knows that
whatever he finds close to it is the object hidden. When he calls
"Found," he must slip the watch into his pocket. You then turn up the
gas and quietly ask your audience if they do not think your friend is
a very clever fellow?

* * * * *


Here is a simple way of making shadow pictures: Place a candle on the
table and fix a piece of white paper on the wall at the same height
from the ground as the light is. Now place some non-transparent
object, as, for instance, a large book, between the candle and the
paper, and on one side of the table place a mirror so that it will
reflect the light of the candle on to the paper on the wall. If you
now put little cardboard figures between the candle and the mirror, a
shadow will be thrown on the white paper and you can move your figures
about just as you please.

* * * * *


It is very difficult to explain how these shadows should be made, but
you must bear in mind the fact that it is necessary to stand between
the lamp and the wall, and extend your arms so that the shadow of your
body does not interfere with the picture shadows you intend to make
with your hands. The illustrations given will show you how to make
two very good shadow pictures, but the fun of the game is for several
people to make up pictures of their own, and see who can succeed in
making the best.

* * * * *


For this game you require a white sheet to be hung up at the end of
the room. Then the "shadow-makers" take up their places on low stools
behind the sheet. There must be only one lamp in the room, which
should be placed about six or seven feet behind the "shadow-makers."
Then the "shadow-makers" drape themselves with shawls, or anything
handy, and take their places so that their shadows are thrown upon the
sheet. They must, of course, try to disguise themselves, so that the
"shadow-seekers" may not be able to guess their identity. By loosening
the hair and letting it fall over the face, a girl may appear like a
man with a beard; bending the finger over the nose gives one a very
queer-looking hooked nose in the shadow, and entirely alters the
appearance of the face. Covering one's self up in a sheet and then
extending the arms gives one the appearance of a large bat. As soon as
a "shadow-maker's" identity has been guessed he must take his place
as a "shadow-seeker," and the one who guessed him becomes a
"shadow-maker." The penalty of a glance behind the sheet on the part
of the "shadow-seeker" is to pay a forfeit.

* * * * *


Tell some one to think of any number he likes, but not to tell you
what it is. Tell him then to double it. When he has done that, let him
add an even number to it, which you must give him. After doing this,
he must halve the whole, then from what is left, take away the
number he first thought of. When this is completed, if he has counted
correctly, you will be able to give him the exact remainder, which
will simply be the half of the even number you told him to add to his

* * * * *


In order to make these, you must stand in the corner of the room, near
a mirror. Let some one hold a light behind you, so that the shadow of
your head and shoulders will be thrown upon the wall, and also that
the reflected light from the mirror will fall at exactly the same spot
as the shadow of your head.

If the mirror is now covered with a piece of thick paper, from which
two eyes, a nose, and a mouth are cut out, the effect shown in the
drawing will be produced. In order to make the shadow still more
lifelike, cut out two pieces of paper, fasten one over the mirror, and
move the other over it. In this way the eyes and mouth of the shadow
may be made to move.

* * * * *


For this trick a whole set of dominoes is required, the performer
taking care to hide one of the set, not a double, in his pocket. The
remaining dominoes should be shuffled, and placed according to the
ordinary rules of domino games, and the performer undertakes to tell,
without seeing them, the two numbers forming the extremes of the line,
set during his absence from the room. The numbers on the extreme ends
of the domino line will be exactly the same as the numbers on the
domino which the performer has in his pocket. If he is asked to repeat
the trick, he should be sure to change the hidden domino, or he may
chance to be found out.

* * * * *


Prepare a set of cards by making a copy of the tables given here. Hand
them to the person whose age you wish to ascertain, and ask him to
name the cards on which his age appears.

If you then add together the first number on each of the cards he
names, the total will be the age required.

No. 1 Card No. 2 Card No. 3 Card No. 4 Card No. 5 Card No. 6 Card
1 29 2 30 4 30 8 28 16 28 32 44
3 31 3 31 5 31 9 29 17 29 33 45
5 33 6 34 6 36 10 30 18 30 34 46
7 35 7 35 7 37 11 31 19 31 35 47
9 37 10 38 12 38 12 40 20 48 36 48
11 39 11 39 13 39 13 41 21 49 37 49
13 41 14 42 14 44 14 42 22 50 38 50
15 43 15 43 15 45 15 43 23 51 39 51
17 45 18 46 20 46 24 44 24 52 40 52
19 47 19 47 21 47 25 45 25 53 41 53
21 49 22 50 22 52 26 46 26 54 42 54
23 51 23 51 23 53 27 47 27 55 43 55
25 53 26 54 28 54
27 55 27 55 29 55

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