It’s all in the game – Playing Marbles

“It’s all in the game”: Fourth in the series on less cost, nontoxic, plastic-free kids games from the past – its about Playing Marbles this time!

In India more fondly called ‘Goli’, ‘Goti’, ‘Kanche’, it was an all boys game usually played outdoors – on streets, vacant grounds and even school premises! 

playing marbles

Thinking aback, “Goli’ was one game my brothers took me in without recommendations, persuasions or bargains despite me not fitting in their gender. Glad games don’t have genders. As for my brothers, I should admit they included me in many games they played within the tall walls of our home – sometimes to fill in the number, sometimes to avoid my silent outbursts later! Thanks to them! They used to play a game akin to cricket indoors and they hardly failed to line me in despite my sickeningly pathetic batting, bowling and fielding – I never improved there! In marbles, it was different- the glow and glitz of those glassy restless spherical balls kind of pleased and elated my spirits. Designs seemed to wriggle within and I was happy to let them loose on ground. When a marble broke, I was curious to know what was inside. I handled them pleasurably, lovingly, less carefully and much willingly.

They say Playing Marbles is similar to golf! I think its strangely connected to billiards – knocking a ball with another ball! In both games, they use stick(golf club/cue stick) and holes/pockets are many. In ‘goli’, a player strikes a series of marbles with one marble to make them all reach a single hole-with no accessories or tools! 

Teach your children Newton’s different ‘Laws of Motion’ playfully!

Advantages in playing marbles are many. Whether it be learning basic physics or basics of life per se – one’s action and probable reactions, focus, skill, reaching goal – this game applies to all!

Movement of marbles, force that we use, resulting collision that trigger more movement, external factors that affect movement including breeze, uneven surface and weight of the marble – yes, it’s more interesting to learn basic concepts of physics this way – force, friction, mass, surface and how these factors affect behavior of a marble. Inquisitive child’s mind will learn these concepts at ease playfully.

Therapeutic benefits:

  • Improves fine motor skills (involves coordination of small muscles in our hands and fingers to work together for tossing the marble) – Speed, direction and movement of a marble is dependent on player’s exertion of appropriate pressure on the marble that is tossed. Gradually, player learns to adeptly control his finger movements and tossing styles.
  • Develops concentration & focus
  • Gross motor skills (involves usage of large muscles of our body to perform a movement – in this game more specifically large muscles of arms and legs)
  • Improves eye-hand coordination
  • Enhances spatial awareness 
  • Visual processing skills – Understanding distance between his/her tossing position and gauging the force that needs to be exerted to strike opponent’s marble/s to make it all reach hole.
  • Socialization skills  – Players devise their rules and learn to agree for a fair play. It is this agreement of sorts which will help in learning negotiation skills, developing mutual understanding, trust, healthy competition and cooperation. When played in groups, kids learn the concept of equal opportunity and learn to wait and accept.

How to play?

Materials required:
Small glass marbles(about 1 cm in diameter) 2 – 5 marbles for each player

A Shallow (heel-sized) hole is dug in the ground (if playing indoors, create a small goal post)
A stick or a chalk to draw lines
A leveled ground helps in free movement of marbles

Number of Players:

Minimum two. More the number more interesting gets the game as more marbles come into play and made available for possession.

How to Play?

Different ways and styles for playing marbles are shared in “other links” and “video” down the page.

Unwritten ‘Agreement of Sorts’

In our mode of play, each player started his/her game bringing in two marbles initially into play. Players brought in more marbles in his/her subsequent turns – minimum and maximum number of marbles brought in per turn per player is decided in advance. A player starts his turn positioning his shooter marble from a predetermined line. Marble that is used to strike or shoot other marbles is called a shooter marble and some players had a special or lucky marble for this purpose.

Every time a marble lands in the hole, player gets an extra chance and his next flick is from the vantage position that his shooter marble has rolled to. If the shooter marble falls in the hole, player loses a turn, but gets to keep his shooter marble with him.

The start

All players toss in their shooter marble simultaneously from a predetermined distance. Player whose shooter marble lands first in the hole starts the game. 

Basic play

First player throws his two marbles near hole. If both lands in hole, then second player gets the chance. If one or both marbles remain outside, then first player gets to strike them. If he manages to flick these marbles to reach hole (with his shooter marble), he wins all marbles in the hole and continues game bringing more marbles into play. Else, he gets the one with which he hit(shooter marble) leaving the other one/two marbles per se on ground.

Second player starts his turn by throwing in his two marbles near hole and flicks his (shooter)marble to strike opponent’s marble/s gently to make them all reach hole. He wins all marbles that gets dropped into hole else gets the one with which he hit(shooter marble) leaving the rest on ground per se. Game continues till all marbles of all players are brought into play and won. Player who manages to drop maximum marbles in the hole is declared winner!

Number of marbles each player brings into the game and whether players get to keep all marbles won by them are decided by mutually agreed rules. At home, all marbles went to one common box at the end – possessions and ownership mattered only while playing -that’s what happens when you play with elder brothers – you gotta listen despite your crazy hunger to possess them all!

Techniques in tossing marble:

Complicated styles make the game more challenging and how you choose your tossing style is your choice.

Knuckle down-player holds his/her shooting marble in the crook or curve of his index finger while resting the knuckle on ground and shoots or flicks the marble with his thumb.


Flicking-player places his shooting marble between forefinger & thumb. Hold your forefinger back with the thumb exerting little pressure and then flip or snap the forefinger forward. This style of tossing is similar to flicking the striker on carrom board.


Indian style of playing involved holding your shooting marble in the forefinger/middle finger of left hand (right or left is dependent on the ease of player) and stretching the forefinger/middle finger backwards exerting pressure by forefinger of the other hand while resting the thumb of your left hand on the ground. Marble is held tight between the fingers before pressure is released. A comparatively difficult style that demands flexibility of both hands and it requires practice!


This post is longer than I intended. It was a little difficult recollecting the mode of playing but hope ‘ve not done injustice to memory and happy times! These old games don’t come with written rules which gives us the wand to make it twisted or simple as our mind fancies – leave it to your kids to design theirs but sure its worth a try! 

How to play marbles- links:

For younger kids there are options different:
click for Video

It’s all in the game – ‘Skipping’

‘It’s all in the game’ series continues and this time its about ‘skipping’. Skipping may not be a game per se but what’s in a name or term for a child? Anything that involves loads of fun and energy is interesting and irresistible!

Click here to read earlier parts of “It’s all in the game”

Kids have always amazed me – their curiosity, readiness to explore, utter inability to wait, will to win and will to forgive … some skills there certainly I would like to relearn and retain now! They’re quite competent in maneuvering small and large screens expertly – that’s absolutely admirable but in the process they shouldn’t go unawares of the ways of maneuvering physical body!

It’s my association and experience with kids and adolescents at two different institutions in the recent past that changed my perception on activities, games and their varying impacts on human body, mind and cognitive skills and this series is a result of the same! 

Kids start by imitating and learn by exploring -whether it be handling gadgets, playing games or exploring nature ………….it all starts with us! So let’s start


Skipping is a simple activity but it plainly exhibits one’s power to fight against gravity and kids literally love this anti-gravity movement. 

I remember those school days(of ’80’s) when girls smuggled in their skipping ropes to school just to enjoy the fun at break hours. Some of them had more than a pair at home and they brought it all to share(with pride no doubt)! They jumped, not just for the feel and fun, but to challenge everyone to beat scores. It may be a solo performance or a group activity – jumping the rope together emphasized understanding and unity between friends! Ability to keep count and count speedily were matters of some concern but what mattered most was – fun, entertainment and happiness!

For us jumping the rope and skipping the rope meant the same and we did it either ways as per will. (Personally, I bettered at jumping then but now I prefer skipping-I keep losing breath while jumping now!)

skipping sceneAs a child, this game had made me reach my ‘highs’ and ‘feel light’. I was surprised when I found my friends had failed to introduce these activities to kids. It wasn’t intentional -it’s just that they forgot! These games are less charming now! Besides, just like me, they too were unaware of the positives! They were trying hard and spending more to keep their kids engaged! I gifted skipping rope and introduced different games. Those happy faces make me happy in turn and …yes, I too have my bit of fun and energizing exhaustion with them! Kids love anything fun, they get bored easily and gotta give vent to their energy! 

And now we get to the benefits of Skipping. This is for all those who value ‘knowledge’ – I appreciate that and here we go! I’m not a professional and ‘ve sought professional help to give a fair picture.

skipping benefits2.jpg

* Prerequisites for skipping – a child should be able to stand, walk, hop & jump with good balance.  Any child with these prerequisites (above 3-4 years of age) can be encouraged to do skipping.

Precaution:  It is advised that children with heart problem should be allowed to do this activity only under doctor’s advice and therapeutic supervision.

Therapeutic benefits and precautions have been compiled under guidance of Mrs.Nirmala Solanky Venkateswaran, Occupational Therapist, who has been serving kids and adults for over 55 years. She needs no introduction to those who have read the earlier parts of ‘It’s all in the game‘.

Besides fun, skipping helps in burning calories too – it’s a good stay fit exercise. So don’t hesitate…. gear up and get your skipping rope today – not just for kids!! 

Options in skipping are aplenty and you may check the youtube link here:
Different types of skipping on youtube 
and for more options please click here


A wanderer’s beach pondering….

This has been in my Evernote for a few days now…. drafted during our drive from beach. It was not a weekend trip but an in between one to Al Sawadi beach.

Beach looked deserted being a week day – may be its the Ramadan fasting and warm weather that kept everyone home.

I stood watching shells that were strewn generously on sands – shells and conchs of sizes many, shapes many and shades many that spoke of lives lived and still living in waters -sea seemed to be brimming with life!

You never feel alone amidst nature! Loneliness may be an excuse… solitude is different -you revel and revive in it! 

its not the sands that tickle your feet all the time – shells do it intermittently…..almost everywhere!  

At Sawadi sands, I get tempted to pocket a few shells every time!

sands at Sawadi are darker in shade…shells shine sharply here!


waves churned with unbounded joy
liken a bundle of school kids let loose
bathed and garbed in new found happiness
frivolous, joyous, immensely happy
they raced, they chased, mirthfully bashing one another
falling frailly – giggling rapturously
never wanting to end the fun
they turned aback
to relive it all – all over again!

Sea was relatively calmer last time. May be seas too are prone to mood swings. They need winds to bubble up. They have their high and low tides too – gravity, sun and moon playing their roles perfectly they say!

What am I but elements with 60% water inside and isn’t it quite natural that I too am prone to high and low tides surging and falling within?


All images were clicked at Al Sawadi beach, Oman

the bronzen treats

setting beams
of the simmering fireball
spilled silky tenderness
on subjects all –
I bathed in the
gleaming satiny radiance!

bed may be a thin rim of rusted iron, matters what?  certainly a soothing beamy spa in progress …..or is this catzy heliotherapy?

surging beams
of dawning sun
stretched arms serenely

scattering shimmering lustre everywhere
and I basked in the
radiating bronzy glow!

DSCN3204-7That’s the beauty of setting sun. He can blacken you out from behind. To get a silhouette or a soft bronzian glow – it all depends on where you place your lens – either way it’s just beautiful! 

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting” (– Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

a mind & its windy affair!

‘Mind’ – this word grabbed my attention when I wanted to write about winds – I wasn’t looking for it… but noticed it everywhere and heard it in conversations – contexts different, intents different – but the word remained!

When I was a child I used to think mind was in heart! Later I learnt heart has nothing to do with mind. Reading ended up finding no abode for mind in my physical body. I was left clueless!

I felt an urge now to google ‘mind’ for its meaning. Dictionaries called it element, part, substance, process. There were researches and journals on mind’s workings and its infinite abilities. Location of mind still remained a mystery. Scientific and spiritual worlds agreed and differed in their interpretations. Mind is not confined to brain nor to consciousness they said in one voice. But once you start on realms other than real, conscious and concrete – it becomes difficult to comprehend! …..May be its better that I leave it all to my mind ……. to understand itself better! Is that not better?

Now that leaves me to continue with what I wanted to share here – wind!

Wind has been constantly hollering, howling and ‘hae’ing around window frames and A/C interstices for the last few days and its amplifying rumble has been increasingly intriguing and distracting. 

Desert winds are charmers and they can be heedlessly noisy when they want to – may be because they don’t have trees to converse and share! When they get intermittently gutsy they keep howling through window slits and gaps nonchalantly demanding entry.

These winds can raise columns of dust off the arid land creating dust ghosts of sizes many and forms varied – a bizarre performance that may last a few seconds to minutes.

They are unlike dust storms or sandstorms that last for minutes longer blinding the entire space with smokes of dust or sand.

On a windy day, from my window I can see the elemental dance of dry grass and diffident sway of dry land bushes in tune with wind’s blowing beats. As I wonder how those tiny feathery birdies manage to anchor their tender bodies against gushing winds, a sparrow flutters its wings and regains balance in a jiffy most softly. So does the bee-eater!

In India, have soaked pleasurably in the pleasing cool breeze that caressed and cuddled coastal parts of northern Chennai, post lunch, all through the year – more in summer. Have happily inhaled calm and cool air of Kochi streets post sunset. Wind in Oman is warmer both day and night between May-October and this makes it less friendly… but plainly its hard to find more friendlier weather in the Persian Gulf!

at sea
receding waters hurriedly sewed

scaly fringes on shore’s hems  –
water’s autograph endorsing its windy affair!


patterns diverse on drifting sands
never satisfied with design last sketched
wind’s desert whims are they!


hide and seek on mountain ranges  
the haphazard game that winds played 
carving sculptures of sizes several
stories intrinsic in volumes myriad!


Winds can be calm, breezy, noisy, stormy, ravenous and so are our minds! It is by happenstance that ‘mind’ caught my attention when I all wanted to write was wind – Wind and Mind – the invisible unbounded wanderers of spaces hither definitely possessing raging skills to create wonders and havoc! 


The above images and video were clicked and recorded in the Sultanate of Oman

It’s all in the game – ‘Five Stones’

Click here to read earlier parts of “It’s all in the game”

This is second in the series ‘It’s all in the game’ and its all about ‘Five Stones’ – a game which was played widely amidst kids some decades ago when there were no electronic gadgets of interest! This game demanded quick eye-hand coordination and good sense of timing. It was quite a challenge! Many a times I messed it up but it was all fun nevertheless…. I used to watch my friends in awe as they quite deftly stole the show with rapid eye-hand movements.

It wasn’t a monitor or machine memory that decided winning chances and it certainly wasn’t about winning or losing all the time….. it was about giving and taking too(friend loses a chance to give you one) – it was learning and understanding one’s abilities… accepting & entertaining relationships!

Learning one’s own body and learning to manipulate its movements are skills that can be imparted through games. Not every kid is interested in regular sports, yoga or dance but every child loves to play and movement games can be total fun and challenge. When played in groups, they are more fun and entertaining. These movement games need energy in lots and kids have the same in loads! Kids get bored easily and these zero-cost games can keep our kids engaged. 

five stones2.jpg

Five small stones are all that’s required to play this game. When it comes to playing with stones, some of us are quite concerned about kids and their safety. If apprehensive, prepare your own small bags of rice, sand or saga seeds (for model check the video on youtube-How to make your five stones – cloth bags). You can fill in the mini pouch with anything you feel perfect – its your creativity and the game is all yours! To know how to play the game, click on link at the end of this blog.

I have added in the advantages of playing ‘five stones’ for those who would like to know why ‘five stones’ now? I did seek professional help to give a fair picture here. Kindly share in your thoughts on these games to help me pen more!

Why play ‘five stones’ – the benefits

  • Tossing the stones  
    • Gross motor development (involves usage of large muscles of our body to perform a movement – in this game more specifically large muscles of arms)
    • Visual processing skills (locating the stone – air & ground)
    • Eye-hand coordination
    • Improves Concentration
  • Picking stones from ground & seizing the tossed stone in mid air (both tasks at the same time)
    • Fine motor development (involves coordination of small muscles in our hands and fingers to work together for precise movements)
    • Enhances reflexes (reflex is an action that is performed as a response to a stimulus and without conscious thought)
    • Spatial awareness
    • Eye-Hand coordination
    • Focus & Goal orientation
    • Control & Multi-tasking
  • Taking turns & following game rules
    • Improves Socialization
    • Abstract thinking
    • Memory
    • Alertness
    • Discipline
  • Helps the child 
    • improve sitting tolerance
    • learn sequencing
    • in personality development
      • enhances self-confidence
      • learns to win & lose

This game is suitable for kids aged 5 and above. Therapeutic benefits are compiled under the guidance of Mrs.Nirmala Solanky Venkateswaran, Occupational Therapist experienced in the field for over 55 years. She needs no introduction to those who have read the first part of It’s all in the game‘. Her dedication has been an inspiration to me and she is the one who has been a strong supporter in penning my thoughts on old games and activities. 

I found these videos on youtube, click the link for view:
How to play five stones 
How to make your five stones – cloth bags

click to read further   How to play Five  stones?