Beautifully simple games, instruments and craft activities that have been enjoyed for generations. To order, click the “Add to Cart” button beside any item. When you’re finished, click the “View Cart” button here or at the bottom of the page. On the View Cart page you will be able to adjust quantities for each item you selected. Your order will be processed by PayPal, but you don’t need to have a PayPal membership to shop here.
Colonial Doll Outfit
Seven piece Colonial Doll Outfit made exclusively for the Herr House and Museum, doll not included.
Two useless skills (and a lot of eye-hand coordination) are developed with this popular 18th-century plaything. Catch a tethered ball in a shallow cup on one end of the stick or spear it through a hole with the spike on the other end. Great group entertainment that requires no batteries.
Curiously satisfying. Tension from a twisted string spins a wooden disk in two directions, making a distinct buzzing sound. Easy for children to learn and annoy their siblings.
Cup and Ball
Same principle but easier to learn than the Bilbo Catcher above.
Game of Jacks
Jacks used to be called knucklebones and probably were actual bones. Modern jacks are the little metal knobby things at left. In the most basic jacks game, a player spills all the jacks on the floor, tosses the ball in the air, picks up one metal jack, waits for the ball to bounce once and catches the ball with the same hand before it bounces again. He or she does the same thing until all the jacks are picked up, then throws the jacks on the floor again and picks them up two at a time, then three at a time, and so on. There are innumerable variations with names like Eggs in a Basket, Kisses, Around the World, Flying Dutchmen and Poison Hand. Learn a game enjoyed by the ancient Greeks!
A series of small blocks of wood are held together by ribbons. When one picks up the ladder by the second block from either end, holding it on its edge, and lets the ladder hang vertically, the top block appears to cascade down the ladder to the bottom. It’s an optical illusion, but try explaining that to a five-year old.
As collectors items, decoration or for playing Ringers or a dozen other games, marbles hold a timeless appeal. Available in clay or glass.
Ninepins is a European style of bowling that uses a smaller ball and one fewer pin than American bowling. For the tabletop version (which, of course, you can also play on the floor) players bowl two balls toward a diamond-shaped arrangement of pins. The first player to score exactly 31 points is the winner.
Tabletop Ninepins is a solid wood game with pins standing 5″ in height and balls 2″ in diameter. It is recreated from accounts and print sources from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.
Marble Tic Tac Toe
In an early version of Tic Tac Toe played during the Roman Empire, each player had only three pieces. If no one had won after three turns, the players needed to move a piece already on the board to keep playing. Play the ancient version or the modern one with this self-contained set.
Quartets Game Set
Triangle Peg Game
Start with all of the pegs on the board except for one. You can only fill the open hole by jumping one peg over another in a straight line—and then the jumped peg is removed from the board. The object is to leave only one peg standing at the end of the game. A classic puzzle that teaches analytical thinking and patience!
and Other String Games
Cat’s Cradle is one of dozens of temporary designs that one or two people can weave with a loop of string between their fingers. Advanced figures include Candles, the Manger, Knitting Needles, and the Scorpion. With experience, children can make a dozen different patterns and never end up with a knot!
Jump Rope Set
One of the world’s simplest games is also its most popular. Jumping rope can develop coordination, creativity and teamwork and is great exercise. Learn something new about this old game.
Fox & Geese
One of several different board games where one player is the fox and tries to eat the geese, and the other directs the geese and attempts to trap the fox or reach a destination on the board. Played around the world as Fuchs und Gänse (Germany), Lupo e pecore (Italy), Rävspel (Sweden), Refska (Iceland), Renard et les poules (France), Schaap en wolf (Netherlands), Vlci a ovce (Slovakia), and Volk i ovtsy (Russia).
Snake and Indian Stick Game
Based on a Native American game of chance. Toss the sticks into the air and score points for the way the sticks land.
The Game of Graces
Invented in France in the early 1800s, tossing and catching a wooden hoop with crossed sticks was considered a way to make young women more graceful. Today boys, girls and adults enjoy the challenge of this old-school outdoor game. Great for picnics and family reunions.
In 1849 Franz Liszt completed his Piano Concerto No. 1, making the triangle a solo instrument in the third movement and earning it the nickname “triangle concerto”. Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Wagner all wrote the triangle into their music. The triangle is typically played by holding the string around one of the closed corners (not as shown) which allows the open ends to vibrate—although you can dampen the sound with your hand for interesting effects.
The harmonica is a mainstay of nearly every musical genre around the world, from blues to folk to jazz, country and rock and roll. If you’ve read the Robert McCloskey children’s classic Lentil, you know that a harmonica can save the reputation of an entire town. Key of C.
Tin Penny Whistle
A simple, six-holed woodwind instrument in the same category as the Native American flute. In the mid-1800s, when tin whistles were first mass-produced, they could be purchased for a penny. While we can’t afford to sell these quite that cheap, they still make an affordable gift for a curious kid—and a distinct accent for any musical ensemble.
Corn Husk Doll Kit
Early European settlers learned to make corn husk dolls from Native Americans. Corn husk doll kits include all necessary materials, including real cornhusks, instructions and history. The Traditional Doll is simple enough to teach to young children. More complex dolls make nice wreath, mantle or table decorations. String two or three dolls together with small pine cones for an attractive garland. Sizes vary due to the length of the corn husks.
Make a Star
Paper Star Kit
Make unique German folded paper stars for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Each kit includes directions, a sample and enough paper for ten stars. Recommended for ages 11 and up.