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Bobbing for Apples

This classic game is simple and easy for all ages. 

Photography: John Kernick

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2007


Keep plenty of apples on hand, as well as towels for drying off. Fill a wide tub with water, and place it on a low table. (Putting it on the ground will lead to wet knees.) Add apples, taking care not to overload the tub. To make the game easier for younger kids, include small apples for grabbing or leave the stems on the fruit. Let the bobbing begin.

Odds are, you know this one classic game of bobbing for apples in a tub of water began as a way to predict a player's fortune. In one version of the game, anyone who got an apple would marry. In another, a dime was put in one apple, a ring in a second, and a button in a third, predicting fortune, marriage, and "single blessedness," respectively. Today's kids may balk at such a quaint ambition, but even without mention of marriage, the game's bobbing, splashing, and general hilarity provide plenty of entertainment. If you want to play with fortune-telling, you can change the type of prediction. Or you can just give a prize to the winner. Which brings us to the loser: In many old games, the loser had to perform a "forfeit." This could be a riddle posing as a task, such as, "Leave the room with two legs and come back with six" (i.e., carry a chair back with you).


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