GAMES – over 100 years old – still PLAYABLE today

Historical Outdoor Children’s Games
By Corinna Underwood


According to Collector’s Weekly, the game of marbles dates back as far as Roman times. The earliest marbles were made from stone, but as their popularity grew, they were also made from baked clay and real marble. Later still, marbles were made from agate and alabaster long before glass marbles came on the scene. Early games involving marbles were similar to the English game of bowls and involved rolling a large marker across the ground. Opponents would then try to hit the marker or get their smaller marbles as close to it as possible. The winner was the one who hit or got closest to the marker. Children still enjoy playing marbles today.

Annie Over

An outdoor game popular more than 100 years ago was Annie Over. This game was played by two teams. A barrier such as a table or log was set up between the two teams. One of the teams had a ball, and on the call of “Annie,” the ball was thrown to a member of the opposing team. If she didn’t catch the ball, she took a turn to throw. When the ball was caught, the teams switched sides as fast as possible. The catcher attempted to hit an opposing team member with the ball while he ran to change sides. If she was successful, the player who was hit had to change teams. The game progressed until one of the teams was eliminated. A modern version of this game is called red rover. This type of game is popular in school yards where young children can play with large teams. It’s a fun communal game that does not need any equipment, and ultimately there are no losers. Red rover is good for fitness and helps improve speed and coordination.


Another game popular more than 100 years ago was graces, which was played by two girls or a girl and a boy. Each child had a hoop and a stick, and they attempted to use the stick to successfully pass the hoop back and forth. This game was devised to promote grace and dexterity in young children. Although hoop-and-stick games are no longer played by contemporary children, the hula hoop has maintained its appeal to children of all ages. The hula hoop can be incorporated into many games, including those involving obstacle courses, skipping and running. Mini hoops are used in target games where objects are placed at a distance from the thrower, and the thrower tries to capture them with the hoops. Hoop games are good for improving coordination and dexterity.

Chase and Capture

Chase-and-capture games — similar to different variations of present-day tag — have always been popular with children both in Europe and the United States. There are a number of variations. For instance, a game popular in the streets of Brooklyn in the early 20th century, ring relievo, was a variation of the European game relievo. This game involved chalk rings drawn on the street; these served as bases for “prisoners.” The game often extended through many city streets.



The Sugar Plum Tree Dream Wish Believe Contest has ended!

Congratulations to: Anitha, Amber, Ria, Raymond, Diane, Kimberly, Angela, Maeve, Jenny, Stephanie, Brooke, Marina, MaryJoan, Angelica, Betty, Heather, Brenda, Jessica, Kyndal, Linda, Amy, Summer, Payton!

And a special congratulations to our top five contestants: Heather,
Debbie, Brooke, Carol, Anitha! These five will be receiving the grand prize gift basket!

And welcome to our 80+ followers on Twitter! Our Sugar Plum Family is growing!


Family Traditions by Dr. Laura Markham

Rituals and Traditions That Bring Families Closer

“The goal of rituals is connection. Rituals create sacred space designated for togetherness and unity.” – Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D.

Why do families need rituals?

What’s a ritual?  It’s a routine with meaning.  Children love ritual.  Repetition, the comfort of belonging, the sense of wonder, magic, and celebration — all Photo: Phil Cantorcreate a bonding experience that nurtures both kids and parents.  Rituals hold families together.

Why do we need rituals?  It’s primal.  They help us move emotionally from one place to another; they ease pain, acknowledge growth, and create connection. 

Rituals are invaluable to families, as most parents discover.  Daily rituals like bedtime stories and goodbye hugs make separations easier and provide comfort and security. Traditions like taking a picture on the front steps on the first day of school and letting kids stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve help children integrate the changes of the year. Rituals like bar mitzvahs and Christmas Eve mass communicate values in a visceral way.

In a secular culture, many parents who don’t relate  to organized religion find that rituals and traditions give the sense of meaning and anchoring they seek.  All rituals reinforce values and create connection.

Studies show that happy families not only have treasured traditions, they evolve new ones that help them find their way through the inevitable changes of growing up, as well as create warm bonds and a sense of security.

“The idea of starting a family tradition sounds overwhelming.”

Don’t worry, your family already has its own traditions, from Sunday morning pancakes to observing holidays in a certain way. The way you celebrate birthdays, mark the passing of pet or observe a special day, the way you say goodbye to each other every morning or shop for fall clothes each school year; all are the stuff of which memories are made.


“Ok, but how do I create traditions that nurture family connected-ness?”

Creating new traditions that work for your family is a simple matter.  Try something new, and if you like it, repeat it.  Then begin to talk about it and look forward to it with the whole family.  Eventually, that tradition will take on a life of its own and will become a sustaining part of your family’s culture.

“And what about rituals?  Are they different?”  We might think of rituals as a tradition carried out in a more sacred way, usually the same way every time. Singing the Chanuka blessings or saying Grace before meals are obvious examples, but so are singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles.  It may not seem that “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” is sacred, but all repetitious chants  are essentially prayers, satisfying a primal human need. Kids love rituals and gain a sense of safety from them.

“Are rituals easy to create?”  You don’t need to do anything fancy. Most rituals use either the lighting of candles or the repetition of a phrase or song as an invocation, or a beginning.  Sometimes that’s all there is to them, as in the case of a particular goodbye saying.  Other rituals, like going around the table at Thanksgiving to say what we’re thankful for, have “content.”  And virtually all have a closing, signaling that sacred space is over and we return to daily life, as when the birthday candles are blown out, or we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer.



Make Your Own Candy Corn!

Cakespy: Homemade Candy Corn

Cakespy: Homemade Candy Corn

Note: Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) drops by every Monday to share a delicious dessert recipe.

[Photographs and art: Jessie Oleson]

Ever wondered how candy corn is made? Well, to give you the short answer, with lots of equipment, over a four to five day period. But don’t let the process daunt you, because it is possible to make your own micro-batches of the classic Halloween candy at home.

This surprisingly simple recipe yields large, plump candy kernels infused with a sweet vanilla flavor. I found that using salted butter adds a nice, rich finish. Conclusion? These homespun tricolor treats are definitely worth the time and effort. Once you’ve tasted them, you may never buy candy corn by the bag again.


Cakespy: Homemade Candy Corn

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  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • red and yellow food coloring


  1. 1

    In a medium sized bowl, combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk. Set to the side.

  2. 2

    In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from heat.

  3. 3

    Add the confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk mixture to the wet ingredients; stir well until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated and smooth.

  4. 4

    Let the dough cool until it is firm enough to handle, about 30 minutes to an hour (I just let it cool in the saucepan).

  5. 5

    Divide the dough into three equal parts and set each third into a separate bowl. Add 2 to 3 drops of yellow food coloring to one dish, one drop of red and two drops of yellow to another dish, and leave the remaining dish uncolored. Knead the dough to which you have added food coloring until the color is even (you may want to use gloves to ensure that you don’t stain yourself). If the dough is feeling very soft or sticky, you may want to chill the dough for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator before proceeding with the next steps.

  6. 6

    On top of a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper, use your hands to roll each color of dough into a long, slender rope. You can roll it out to your desired thickness: for larger candies, make each rope thicker; for smaller candies, make each rope thinner.

  7. 7

    Line the three ropes of dough together: white, orange, and yellow. To ensure that they will stick together, lay a piece of waxed paper on top and give them a very gentle rolling with a rolling pin. You just want to adhere them, not to flatten them.

  8. 8

    Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into triangles. Keep a damp cloth nearby so that you can wipe off the knife if it begins to get a candy residue. This method will result in half a batch of traditionally colored candy corn and half a batch with yellow tips (it’s OK—they taste the same). Let the finished kernels sit for an hour or two (do not stack them on top of one another as they will stick together!) to become firm.


8 Scavenger Hunt Ideas!

8 Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

Entertain kids for hours with these fun scavenger hunt games.

Elizabeth SanFilippo, Contributor   |   0 Comments
scavenger hunt map

Warm or cold weather, there’s nothing more entertaining for kids than taking part in a scavenger hunt. And they’re great activities for babysitters to do with kids and can be fun for birthday parties.

“Scavenger hunts teach children to open their eyes to their environment,” Alyson Schafer, a parenting expert and best-selling author, says. “It helps them learn to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. It develops a sense of curiosity and adventure.”

Scavenger hunts can also be a great way to get your kids away from the TV and moving around, says Len Saunders, a health and fitness expert. But he says parents should keep the hunts age- and skill-level appropriate. “If it is too easy, the kids will lose interest right away, so make sure it is a challenge,” Saunders says. “If it is too hard, they may lose interest, so keep it at a level where they will have some degree of success.”Younger children should stick to familiar homes or your local park, while older kids may have a larger area, like your town, to roam to find all the clues. Play to your kids’ interests and your environment. Set up a hunt for one child or many, but keep in mind that as the group grows, so will the craziness.

Get your creative juices flowing with these eight ideas for out-of-the-box scavenger hunts:

  1. Nature Hunt
    No matter what climate you live in, Schaefer suggests you “take a look around your surroundings and see what your kids could ‘hunt’ for and collect in a basket. “Outside it might be as simple as a twig, bark, stone, acorn.” Use this hunt as an opportunity to educate the children about their surroundings and instill an appreciation for nature.
  2. Fitness Hunt
    This is perfect for the cold weather months when kids can’t be outside playing as much. To organize, Saunders recommends attaching each object with a fitness challenge. “For example, if little Johnny finds a tennis ball — which is on his list — he has to read the note attached, which may say, ‘perform 10 jumping jacks.’” Before moving on, he has to do those jumping jacks.
  3. Household Hunt
    “Inside, you can have kids hunt for either household items — so they learn where the broom goes, and what drawer the tin foil is kept — or you collect items and hide them like Easter eggs,” Schaefer suggests.
  4. Puzzle Hunt
    Attach a puzzle piece to each item on your child’s hunt list. This way the fun isn’t over once the pieces are collected. “Children love a theme, so keeping the scavenger hunt simple, yet attractive to them builds more interest,” Saunders says.
  5. Themed Hunt
    Do your kids like pirates? Have them dress up while they hunt for their booty. Or, if they’re into the beach, take them there to find beach-related items, like shells and fossils. Themed scavenger hunts can also be a way of educating your children. “If they love baking, they may love looking for spices in the kitchen cabinets and measuring cups to get the cookie ingredients ready,” Schaefer suggests.
  6. Holiday Hunt
    Time to find Easter baskets or Christmas stockings? Give your kids clues on where the Easter Bunny and Jolly Old St. Nick may have hid them. As the kids get older, put them in harder-to-find places.
  7. Video or Photo Hunt
    Teenagers can be turned loose with their smart phones or a digital cameras to capture moments on video or in still photos, rather than collecting items. Have them find a statue to pose with or play a silly game, like duck, duck, goose in a public park, then laugh at the videotaped results.
  8. Museum Hunt
    As parents, you’ve probably been to a favorite museum dozens of times and know it like the back of your hand. Tap into that knowledge and make a list of exhibits kids must visit to check off their list. This can be more general for young kids (find the T-Rex skeleton!) or specific for older kids (find a painting done in the impressionist style.) It’ll also get you out of the house on a bad weather day.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the type of hunt you’ll stage, don’t let the creativity stop. Whether kids are checking things off a list or going from one clue to the next, clues can include instructions on how kids must navigate to the next clue. Get creative by telling them they need to hop to the next clue or maybe crab walk.

Keep your audience in mind, too. Young kids, for instance, may need picture clues. Older kids can tackle a longer list and clues should be vague and require a little decoding.

Scavenger hunts can be a great way to entertain your kids, no matter their age or the size of the group you’re hosting. Go crazy with the planning and hunting, and you’ll have as much fun as them.

Share your scavenger hunt ideas in the comments section below.

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer. Her work can be found here.


Most Popular Kid Gifts 1913 – 2013

Most Popular Gifts in 1913 and 2013
By JOANNA PRISCO via Good Morning America

Christmas Wish List from 1915 Will Make You Feel Materialistic

“Our newspaper collection includes over 120 million pages dating back to 1609, and a quick search using the keywords “Dear Santa” brings really interesting results,” reads the blog. “The further back we looked, the more interesting – and frequently more simple – the requests became. It added color to the lives and times of our ancestors, particularly when we looked at what children are asking for this year.”

Top-Rated Toys of This and Other Seasons: A Gift Guide

Check out the MyHeritage list of the most commonly requested presents from 100 years ago:


1. Candy

2. Nuts

3. Rocking horse

4. Doll

5. Mittens/gloves

6. Toy train

7. Oranges

8. Books

9. Handkerchiefs

10. Skates

Now take a look at the items topping contemporary lists:


1. Furby Boom

2. Teksta Robotic puppy

3. LeapPad Ultra

4. Flying Fairy

5. Bug Hugs Elmo

6. Barbie Dream house

7. Giggly Monkey

8. Nerf Gun

9. Ninja Turtles

10. Lego


There’s Always Time to #DreamWishBelieve

There is something magical and effervescent about a good dream or even wishing for something wonderful to come true. More powerful than the dream or wish is that you actually believe in the actual possibility of whatever your mind and heart can conjure up.

Consider this…

Growing up I loved the movie and book Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. The book helped me to create this magical world of candy in my head based on what I was hearing, but more importantly the movie manifested all of what I had already imagined and more. On a subconscious level, I knew that there was nowhere in real life that had chocolate fountains, rivers or even places and things made of candy. However, the gift of the movie and the concept was the opportunity to dream of an instance where I was the winner of a golden ticket whereby I was subsequently whisked off to a magical, sugary and very real candy kingdom like the one Willy Wonka created.

Unfortunately, as we get older our time spent consciously dreaming and imagining the possibilities for things like candy lands is very much diminished by the demands of adult life. While sad to admit, imagine a world where adults spent most of their time dreaming and wishing. We would wish bills away, but they would still be there. We would dream of being anywhere but a desk for eight hours and no work would get done. These are some of the obvious reasons why the euphoric phenomena of dreaming and wishing dissipate as we mature, but isn’t there always time to dream, wish, and believe in something?

If you have children like I do, you know that parenthood presents us with yet another opportunity to dream, wish and believe in impossible situations and happenings. Whether it is through imaginary play with your kids or a reading a book that takes you to an imaginary place- children remind us that there is always time to dream wish and believe.

This was precisely what my sisters and I were thinking of when we decided to write “The Sugar Plum Tree”. We grew up with this story that was told to us on special occasions about a place where candy grew plentifully grown on a tree awaiting our dreams of all of the sweet goodies we could eat. In the morning, everything that was read to us the night before was validated with a sweet surprise left under our bed in the form of candy. How neat!

“The Sugar Plum Tree” is starting new traditions and providing both adults and children with renewed opportunities to imagine the impossible through candy. We will be running a #dreamwishbelieve book giveaway campaign starting today Tuesday, June 17th and we hope you will participate for the chance to win this an autographed book or a Sugar Plum Tree dream set for that special child in your life.

What did you dream, wish or believe in as a child? We want to hear from you.


TRADITIONS -3 part series


​The history of and importance of tradition is tied closely to an inexact and fleeting kind of process, one which to this day modern science and philosophical wonder has yet been able to map out in a conclusive manner. That is the process of remembrance, or the way that our mind recalls memories from the past. Plenty of scientific research has been done that definitively shows the inexact nature of how we take down memories, but we have yet to pinpoint what makes something, anything, truly memorable.

​Thinking back to your past, your childhood, one can never remember specific dates, times, and other such unimportant details, but instead we remember moments. Maybe we particularly remember the vivid color of a new toy, the smell of summer or fresh baked cookies, or the sounds of a waterfall you visited as a child. If we remember only these particular sensory intakes of specific moments, is there a formula, a possible way to “create” an event that will truly and definitively be stored in our memory? Video camera’s and sound recording devices all make an attempt to “capture” a moment, and save it for a later date, but is this the equivalent to a memory? Such modern recording devices are becoming more and more accurate in their representation of a past event, but even these are only surface representations of any stored memory in one’s head, as memory goes deeper than simply the sensory absorption of an event.

​Memory cannot be defined by the capturing of a video or a sound recording that only records a few senses (sight, sound), but instead is the whole and complete feeling of a comprehensive event. When one looks at a photograph, it does not represent that memory, but instead we use the language that the photograph “brings back old memories,” and instead only triggers that feeling of the memory stored in our minds.

​Thus, creating a memory is something natural, something spontaneous, and something that cannot be forced by the use of a video camera or a state of mind. Remembrance may be imperfect in its nature, but what can anyone do but to live in the moment, do their best to create lasting memories of joy and happiness with loved ones, and let the ride of life take its course? Who can say what the best way of creating a memory, or even deeper, a tradition, truly is?


The Sleep Over Cure

08klass-blog480-300x227Terri Cettina wrote a sleepover article in Parenting called The Sleepover Survival Guide,  in it she has some really practical tips and thoughts.

And while I read it I thought, OKAY I hear you, Terri, but I won’t NEED a survival guide, because first I’m a WAY COOL mom, and I’ve got this one down COLD!  I listened to other mothers’ horror stories, I took my notes, AND I’ve followed all the rules written on every SLUMBER Party article out there.

I had a theme, I had an invite list narrowed to only the girls that got along (mothers too – check one for me…I’m double covered!), and most importantly I discussed expectations ahead of time with my daughter.  It was her FIRST birthday SLUMBER party a rite of passage for any 8 year old.  I had everything on a list and timed.  I overpaid for someone to wash, style and sparkle hair, for another to buff and polish fingers and toes, I had a movie picked out with family members dropping by in costume- all in theme.  I set bedtime to 10pm.

The only thing I didn’t count on was the girls going ROUGE!  OFF SCHEDULE…doing their own thing in their own time.  AND I didn’t count on them NOT falling asleep eventually….

It was around one in the morning when I REMEMBERED something I forgot.   How my mother handled my first-rite-of-passage-PAJAMA-party.  The Sugar Plum Tree!

A 19th century poem recited to us to help us fall asleep and dream of a sweet wonderful adventure.  The twist for us was when we woke up there would be a little candy under our bed…sort of proof the tree was real.   It worked for me, and for my friends, we were so eager to get to sleep we were tripping over each other to get to our sleeping bags.

So….I thought…let’s try it! I explained to my little charges that I was telling them a magical poem, and I apologized because I meant to do it sooner because the Garden of Shut Eye Town where the tree grows closes at 2am.  So they would have to listen closely and fall right to sleep for the magic to work.

Within 20 minutes they were all wiggling in their bags – trying hard to fall asleep.  By 3am I could have run the vacuum in their room and I doubt if anyone would have budged.  Unfortunately for me, because I didn’t plan it well, I had to run out to buy the candy, and fill 8 little bags before they really woke up.

Was it worth it?  Me not sleeping and needed a pot of coffee to stay awake?  And running out of the house to find candy at ungodly hour?  YES!  To see them all wake up SCREAMING that it was real!  Well, that was better than cool!  And my daughter now had the BEST birthday SLEEPOVER EVER!!  At least that’s what the party of 8 said.

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  • Dream. Wish. Believe.

    Start your family tradition TODAY with this SPECIAL OCCASION bedtime picture book!
    Take a journey across THE LOLLIPOP SEA to the GARDEN OF SHUT EYE TOWN, where the SUGAR PLUM TREE grows and whisper a word in the GINGER DOG'S ear. The CHOCOLATE CAT will appear the next morning, leaving PROOF under the bed that sweet dreams come TRUE!
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