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Traditional Children's Games: Playing with Tops

Playing with a top
Photo: S. Peters
Salvador Villazon from Mexico demonstrates how to spin a top. He loved spinning them when he was a child.

Showing a top

Photo: S. Peters
Jennifer Risso enjoyed playing with "trompos" as a child.

A trompo
Photo: Laura Pardo
The "trompo" described by Jennifer is a traditional spinning top in Venezuela and other Spanish-speaking countries

Photo: $5abi's

A gasing, the traditional spinning top in Indonesia and Malaysia, described by Hasanuddin.

In just about every country, children, especially boys, have played with tops. Usually, the object is to knock over the other players' tops with your top or to knock them out of a circle.

In Venezuela, the traditional top is made of wood. In Indonesia, a bamboo top whistles as it spins, and the object is to make your top spin the longest. Colorful tops can be found all over Mexico.

The Trompo, A Spinning Top

Jennifer Risso from Venezuela

I remember when I was a child and used to play this game. I enjoyed it a lot. Trompo is a game for boys and I'm a girl, but this little thing didn't matter to me because I loved to play this game with all my brothers' friends. Trompo is a traditional game in my country; almost everybody in Venezuela know this game.

To play it, you need a special toy—a top (el trompo)—and at least two players. The object of the game is to knock over the other players' tops with your top.

The person whose top is spinning in the end is the winner. The boys always put things on the points of their tops to make them spin faster so they can win the game.

The traditional top in Venezuela is made of wood, but it can also be made of plastic or other materials that make the top move more easily, or the point can be made of metal. The top has a string that you have to roll up around the top before you throw it to the floor.

Sometimes the kids who have good tops make bets. They say, "If my top wins, I will get yours." Then you see that kid with two or three tops. I sometimes lost mine because I wasn't a very good player, but I enjoyed playing with it all the time!

The Gasing, A Traditional Top

Hasanuddin Rachman from Indonesia

Gasing is a traditional children's game from Indonesia. It uses a piece of bamboo about 5 inches long with a stick that pierces through the center of the tube-shaped bamboo, or the body. Part of the stick above the body is longer than below it. A piece of rope about 3 to 4 feet long is coiled around the upper stick.

Another piece of equipment is a small rod with a small hole. The player pulls the rope using his left hand, while his right hand is holding the rod against the gasing body in an upright position, causing the gasing to rotate and make a wailing sound. You can imagine the different sounds caused by two or more players who pull their gasings together.

The player with the gasing that rotates the longest is the winner. The length of the rotation is quality of the gasing, and of course the strength of the pull by the player. Sometimes people make bets using small pictures. When adults play, they often use money. 

More traditional children's games:

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