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Victorian Children at Play

Most toys in the Victorian period belonged to rich children.

Girls played with: china dolls, rocking horses and tea sets whilst boys played with: toy soldiers, train sets and marbles.

Poorer children usually played with home-made toys. A clothes peg might be turned into a doll, and a lump of wood become a toy boat. A piece of rope could be used for skipping, and rags stuffed with sawdust might become a ball or an animal to cuddle. Spinning tops, diablos and cup and balls were popular too.

Sometimes, children would save up their pocket money to buy toys at penny bazaars in the market. For one penny they could buy: pencils, beads, tiny dolls or tin badges.

An unusual toy that came out in the Victorian period was the thaumatrope. This was made out of a disk or card with a picture on each side, attached to two pieces of string. When it spun quickly, the two pictures would appear to combine into one.

Taumatropio topo e gabbia, 1825

Some families would play card games and board games like 'Snakes and Ladders' together. At parties, they might have acted out charades or created a shadow puppet show.

Outside, children liked to play games like: tig, hopscotch, skipping as well as playing with hoops and tops. They usually played out in the street as their homes were very crowded and there were fewer cars than today.