Games for Victorian Children

Written by nicholas ramos
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Games for Victorian Children
Queen Victoria's reign marked the advent of the Victorian Era. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The Victorian Era began when Queen Victoria took the throne of England in 1837. From 1837 to 1901, the Victorian Era was in full bloom. High culture and the emergence of literary masterpieces such as Jane Eyre and Lord Jim appeared and a plethora of other cultural achievements were ubiquitous in Victorian Great Britain. However, there was still time for children's games. Victorian children's games are still played today with some variations.

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Deerstalker is a two-player game that was often watched by other children until their turn came up. Deerstalker consists of one child playing the role of a deer while another plays the role of a stalker. Each person is blindfolded and the spectators guide each player to the end of a large table. Each player is required to remain silent as is the audience. The stalker tries to catch the deer and the deer avoids the predatory character. The players must stay along the table and listen for the movement of the other character. If the stalker catches the deer, then a new player takes the role of the deer. Often, a time limit was set and if the deer was not caught in that time period, then he was the winner.


Jackstraws is a Victorian era game that is better known by the modern name of "Pick-Up-Sticks." This table game was popular due to the ease of access. Due to notable class differences in England at the time, games requiring tools or parts were not always affordable for the entire population. Jackstraws consisted of twigs, splinters or toothpicks. The game consisted of dropping a pile of sticks on a table. Each player took turns removing a stick from the pile without disturbing the other sticks in the vicinity. The player who removed the most sticks without disturbing the others was the winner. Wealthier families would purchase expensive and ornate kits for this game. The sticks were crafted of thin, carved ivory. The modern game of Tumbler is loosely based on this game.


Lookabout is a Victorian scavenger hunt. A host or leader of the group of children playing the game, would hide an object in a large room. The children would look about the room for the object. Once they found it, they sit on the floor up against the wall as to not give away the location of the object. The last person who found the object was "it" and was required to hide another object and sit the game out for the next round.


The famous game of Charades has its origin in the Victorian Era. Today, Charades includes acting out a title to a movie; however, in that era, movies did not exist. This game in the Victorian era would be one team to choose phrases or words of objects formulated by another team from a bowl or hat with the words being written on paper. They would act out these phrases until one of their team members guessed the word. However, there was a time limit attached so if the word or phrase was not guessed, then that team did not get a point.

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