games and activities

Backspin Hoop Juggling

This is a merger of two well known activities. First you'll need two hoops. When I was young we had bamboo hoops, but these days it's all brightly coloured plastic from the local discount toy store.

You've all seen juggling. Perhaps some of you have tried it. The simplest sort of juggling is juggling two objects with one hand (although three things in two hands is actually the easiest). And if you've played with hoops, then you've probably done that thing where you throw the hoop forward with backspin, and it slows down as it rolls away, and then rolls back towards you and you catch it. Backspin hoop juggling is the combination of these two ideas. You need two hoops, and you catch and throw them while adhering to two basic rules:

  1. Do not hold more than one hoop at a time.
  2. Any hoop you are not holding must be in motion.

The general pattern of motion is:

  1. Throw hoop A forward with backspin.
  2. Throw hoop B forward with backspin.
  3. Catch hoop A as it rolls back, and throw it forward again.
  4. Catch hoop B as it rolls back, and throw if forward again.

and so on forever, or until you get tired and drop one.


Another activity with backspinning hoops involves two people. If you've done barn dancing you'll know about do-si-do: two people initially facing each other move forward, past each other, round each other (back to back) and then back to their starting positions. Do-si-do with the hoops is the same, except that each person stands still and lets their hoop do the do-si-do. The hoops move forward, go around each other and roll back to their throwers. To make it work requires good coordination in time with each other (counting "1, 2, 3, go" or similiar is recommended), and a careful slanting of each hoop as you throw it forward and spin it backwards.

Balancing Things

Anything that is long enough and top-heavy enough is fairly easy to balance on a moveable platform (with perhaps a bit of practice). A broom is as good as anything. (Note: an out of control broom can do some damage, so do be careful here.) You can try it on your hand, or just your finger, and then on your other hand. If you can manage those positions, then you can graduate on to a foot. Start by holding on to something while you stand on one foot and balance the broom on the other foot. Then try to do it without any support. And for an encore, keep the broom balanced on one foot while you hop along on the other foot. (I say foot, but it's probably more comfortable and less bruising to do it while wearing footwear.)

With practice it seems you can balance a broom on almost any part of the body that can support it. But why is it so hard to balance two brooms at once, even just one broom on one hand and one broom on the other? It must have something to do with how many different things you can concentrate on at once, or maybe it can be done if you pay attention to the brooms in the right sort of way.

Balloon Attack

All you need for this game is one balloon, two people and some room to move around in. The rules are simple: if you touch the balloon anywhere except your hands, then you lose that point. Also you are not allowed to hold the balloon or throw the balloon, so you have to make do with hitting it at the other person. A surprisingly intense game.