Enabler Publications

Books to feed the Mind and Spirit

The new youth games book The new youth games book

Sample from this book:

Youth gamesHere are a couple of sequences from the New Youth Games Book from Alan Dearling and Howie Armstrong:

Marble games

We thought that it was strange that it took us from 1979 right through to 1994 to find a place for 'Marbles' in the Games Book. But it's here now, and we have had some fun trying out some of the half-forgotten forms of the game.

Thinking back to our own childhood days of playing marbles, the game was simple. One person would roll their glass marble along the ground, often using the gutter of the road or the pavement as the playing arena. Then, the other player would try and hit the first marble with their own. Taking alternate turns, the game would continue until one person managed to hit the other's marble. This hit would win the loser's marble. This version of marbles is commonly called 'Capture'. The only main variation was when one player had a 'special' marble, which was either larger, more ornate, or a ball-bearing. These special marbles would be classified as 'two-ers' or 'three-ers', which meant that they had to be hit more times before they could be won and change ownership. Historically, marbles were also made of wood, stone and plastic.

Group gamesMarble games tend to be played avidly as 'craze' by kids. For a time it becomes an all consuming passion, which, like most other passions, subsides after a while. For youth workers or parents, it is a simple game to introduce, popular, and requires little equipment or expense. Very nicely made, traditional marbles, can be cheaply purchased at many toy and gift shops. Many of these are often referred to as 'alleys' because of the flecks of colour which swirl through the white or clear glass, rather like the colours which flow through a person's eye.

Finally, before moving on to describing some of the games you can play with marbles, a quick word about the ways in which you can 'shoot' or roll your marbles. We know of three ways of propelling the marble on its way:

1) The simplest is just to hold the marble in one hand and roll it in the required direction.

2) Shooting requires more dexterity. The marble is held as in the drawing below, with the player's knuckles placed firmly on the ground. The marble is shot forward by a flick of the thumb. This technique is sometimes called 'knuckling'.

3) A third method is simply to flick the marble from its position on the ground with the thumb.

But, on to some of the games variations.......................


This is played the same was as 'Capture' but with one significant rule change. Either player can elect to 'span' the two marbles if they are close enough together. Spanning is undertaken by a player placing their thumb on their own marble and a finger on the opponent's marble, and then flicking them together. If a span is successful, the 'spanner' captures the opponent's marble, if unsuccessful, the player loses their own marble.


Two circles must be drawn of the ground to play this game. We have used chalk on the pavement and we have also played it on a sandy beach. The inner circle is about a foot in diameter, the outer circle approximately 6 or 7 feet. Any small number of players can participate, with each putting two of their marbles into the inner circle.

Each player takes it in turns to shoot from any point outside of the outer circle. Their aim is to knock marbles out of the inner circle. In different versions of the game, they then either win these displaced marbles or get an extra shot.

Each succeeding shot is taken from where the player's marble last came to rest. Another twist in the game is to allow player's to also shoot at their opponents' marbles, and if they hit them they are captured. An additional rule makes any marble that comes to rest in the inner circle a target. That player then starts with a new marble from outside of the big circle. Play continues until all the marbles have been removed from the inner circle.


As you've guessed from the name, this game requires a wall!

Players take turns to roll their marbles towards the wall so that they hit the wall and rebound back towards the players. Each player then takes their turn with the aim of hitting opponents' marbles on the rebound, in which case all of the marbles played are captured. After the first round of play, players shoot their marbles from the position where they first landed. In different versions of the game, the marbles may either still be required to hit and rebound off the wall or may be played as in capture. In the latter version of the game, only one marble at a time can be captured after the first round.


This game is different. A small circle is marked on the ground and each player puts one or more marbles into the circle. They then take turns to stand above the circle and carefully drop a marble down onto the circle. The aim is to knock marbles out of the circle, which they then capture. If a marble is knocked out of the circle, the successful player also keeps their original marble; if they fail, they must add the marble they have dropped, into the circle.


There are numerous target games which can be played using marbles, and it is fun to improvise your own. Most can be played indoors or out of doors Ideas for such games include:

1) Line up an agreed number of marbles with at least two marble's space between them (say, one from each player.) This line should be at least six feet away from the shooting line. Players then take turns to shoot at the marble line. Any marbles hit are captured, and a hit gives the player an extra shot.

2) Toy soldiers, lego figures, or similar can also be used for targets in a target game, and it can be fun to place obstacles in the line of fire to deflect the oncoming marbles. Knocking over a figure scores an agreed number of points.

3) An archboard can be constructed, or bought, which provides a target for a marble scoring game. Such a board can be made of wood or stiff cardboard. Players can either roll alternate marbles and keep their scores as they go, or roll up five or ten marbles as a 'go'. The winner is the person with the highest score at the end of an agreed number of rounds.

4) 'Hundreds' is quite a popular game and easy to organise. A playing area of about 6-10 feet is agreed and a circle is drawn or small hole dug for a target area. Players then take turns to try and roll their marbles into the target. Each successful marble scores ten points and gives the player an additional turn. A miss doesn't score and play moves on to the next player.

Newspaper walk

This sequence is lively, active fun. It's very popular with all younger groups and it's a good sequence for parties as well. Mums and Dads and youth leaders etc. should all have a go-it's not that easy! It is best played in a school hall or a scout hut, where there is a shiny wooden floor.

Each player needs two sheets of newspaper. Players should have taken their shoes off, otherwise the paper tends to rip. All the participants line up, placing one sheet of newspaper under each foot. At the word 'Start', players must try to cross the room heading for the previously agreed finishing line. If any part of player's body touches the floor, they have to go back to the start.

The new youth games bookThe new youth games book

Alan Dearling and Howie Armstrong

Published by RHP

232pages with 124 illustrations by Jerry Neville

ISBN 1 898924 00 7

£12.95 plus £1.50 p&p