How to play Mumblety-peg Pocket Knife Game

Source of Photograph: Library of Congress. Boys playing ‘Mumble-the-Peg’ Peekskill NJ 1917 LOC 24912u

Moms, you want your son off video screens – right? One way is to give him something he can do with his hands. For boys who have learned to be responsible there is nothing like a nice pen knife to spend hours fiddling, making small lashed items and playing Mumblety-peg.

The game Mumblety-peg has nearly been lost. And I don’t mean the modern version which requires throwing a knife as close to his foot as possible, then stretching out his foot to touch the knife until one of the two contestants can’t stand anymore. And I certainly don’t mean the new game where a boy stabs the knife between his fingers, faster and faster until he stabs himself or chickens out or can’t go any faster. Instead, I am talking about the game from the 17th century.

Here is the description from Encyclopedia Britannica: Continue reading

Indestructible Log Blocks For Sensory Monsters

Let’s be honest. I love all 4 of my children, but one in particular, though all of them at some point, was a compacting crusher machine who regularly turned toys into pancake messes. (In all fairness, my mother told me over and over that I was THAT child.) So my wife and I were always on the hunt for toys that were nearly indestructible. And now with 6 wonderful grandchildren, who are my descendants complete with some of my tendencies, the indestructible toy search continues.

Before daughter #4’s wedding I wanted to make a small outside play area for my 6 grandchildren ages 6 to 1. A few of which have clearly inherited the compacting crusher gene. So before they arrived I set up a play area complete with log blocks created just for this occasion. I am happy to report not one single block fell victim to compacting crusher syndrome. They all survived and were a big hit. (With both the boys and girls!) Continue reading

The Magic of Star Wars, Review of Star Wars POE’s X-Wing Fighter Build N Play Set

Boys and Star Wars

star wars the force awakens

Excitement builds for the new Star Wars movie – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

poe's x-wing fighterI watched a Fireman’s Parade a few weeks back hoping to take some fun photographs. Apparently the parade got started late so while sitting for an hour near two grandparents and an early elementary boy, I heard all about Star Wars. This little guy could tell me anything I wanted to know about the movies, the TV programs and more – and he did, for 40 minutes! Today on facebook a friend stated he had just purchased 65 tickets to the opening night of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie. He was getting ready to make a great memory. His wife teasingly asked “Do you even have 65 friends?”

So what is it about Star Wars and boys – young and old? What is the magic which attracts them to this story?

The Star Wars movies have several components that draw boys and men into the story.

First, it is about self sacrifice and fighting for something bigger than yourself. Next it holds family and friendship very strongly. The movie presents tension with good and evil clearly on opposite sides. The characters are flawed, but heroic. Finally, there is lots of adventure and action and a few pretty girls (for the older boys.) What more can any male want?

I know many boys love to “play” Star Wars, especially the battle scenes. So it would be great if your son could feed his creative imagination and even be tested with some intellectual skill, fine motor practice and even patience, just like we used to get from making model kits back in the day – right? Well, maybe he can. Continue reading

A Boy’s First Bow and Arrow


This project is very simple even for the Dad who hates to build things.

All toys should be dead until touched by a child. A toy’s only purpose should come from the consequence of the physical manipulation and imagination of a child.  If it moves, makes noises, flashes or can operate on its own it is not a toy but a form of entertainment. Our boys do not need any more entertainment. They need imaginative play! They need toys that naturally engage them in play.

Perhaps because I am reading Summer of Two Worlds by J. Arthur Moore about a boy who was raised by American Indians that I thought of how fun it was for me as a child to play with bow and arrows. I can remember spending many a day shooting homemade arrows at cans and seeing how far I could get an arrow to fly.

The bow and arrow is a great toy for boys.But I know Moms want one that is safe, especially for younger boys. So I have gone out and looked around to find how to make a safe, simple, fun bow and arrow.

Here is a great DIY project, perfect for a dad, even without great tool skills. For that matter you don’t even need loads of tools. You will need a saw. I think most dads can handle that!

Check it out! Continue reading

Backyard Camping Adventure

I loved to camp in my backyard when I was a boy. OK, we owned an acre that was half wooded. We were the last house on a dead end street where a car driving on the street was a major event. So we were a bit secluded. But as an adult we lived in a typical Midwestern neighborhood with rows of houses but still allowed our children to camp in the backyard. So unlike my childhood camping, with fire on the ground and wooded seclusion, my kids were in tents on a manicured lawn. But they still had fun!

Decide on the following. Continue reading

Sticks and Stones – Toys and Treasures

Most children start out liking to play outside. There seems to be a natural desire to be out and about. But for many children this natural desire is slowly suppressed and supplanted. Just like killing off our natural taste buds with gobs of white processed sugar has cursed our nation’s citizens to unprecedented health issues and record numbers of children, teens and adults getting diabetes, I fear that similar consequences due to too much inside activity will lead to the dying of creativity, drive for discovery and satisfaction for accomplishing hard work. Especially among our boys.


However, my fear, just as a food industry’s response to unhealthy food like the Hostess Twinkie, the alternatives are not much better. Too many parents have turned to Pinterest and think outside activities have to be elaborate or staged events. Continue reading

A Boy and His Pocket Knife

When my kids were toddlers and I would help set the table my wife would tell me “only pour as much water as you are willing to clean up.”
Her advice proved to be wise as my children spilled their water many times. But her advice continued to be true well beyond the sippy-cup to drinking glass transition. Over and over I used her advice and would think about the truth of calculated risks.

Calculated Risks. Often worth taking.

Unfortunately when it comes to today’s child parents seem more concerned about any possible risks rather than calculated risks. Even when chances are extremely small, some parents simply won’t take the risk. With such restrictive views, our children are missing out on so many opportunities, including owning and using pocket knives. Continue reading

Sword Play

Minecraft, The Three Musketeers, Star Wars and other warriors use swords to defend their Kingdoms! Your son can engage in great imaginative swordplay fun with a little bit of ingenuity and very little cost.

I love when boys get involved in imaginative, non-screen, full body, outside play. The only problem is how do we get them to do that when they are ever drawn to those blasted screens? Well, simple, but fun swords to the rescue. Continue reading

Learn How To Play Marbles

Many generations of boys have played the game of marbles. While the game has basic rules, it can be tricky to master.

The game of marbles helps boys with fine motor coordination, sportsmanship and strategy, and even patience. It is remarkably inexpensive to obtain the “equipment” – basically one needs several “player” or “duck” marbles (typically 5/8 inch diameter) and one “shooter” marble (typically 3/4 inch diameter.)

Many purchased “sets” will come with both types of marbles and in a mesh bag. When I played marbles though, our bag was almost as important as the marbles. (I bet some creative moms could come up with a straightforward, easy way to sew marble pouch with a thick material and a drawstring. What a fun project that could be for a boy!) Continue reading