St Fagans National History Museum

Whip and Top

[image: Whip and Top]

Children have probably played with tops ever since pine trees grew cones and cone shaped stones have existed. Sometimes a shoelace or bootlace was used for the whip and a nail from grandad's boot was hammered into the top to make it steadier and give it a better spin.

Children liked to draw pretty patterns with chalk on the top so that when it spun around it was like a Kaleidoscope. Some rules say the whip and top must only be played with in the Springtime (March and April). If this rule is broken then 'you will be smugged' i.e. the whip and top will be confiscated!

Suggested activity: Make a spinning top

You will need:

  • some stiff card
  • a round lid e.g. from a small jam jar
  • a cocktail stick or matchstick (be sure to ask an adult to help you)
  • pencil, felt tip pens, scissors

Place the round lid onto the card. Draw around the lid to make a circular shape. Cut the circle out of the card. Decorate the circle as you like. Pierce a hole in the centre of the circle. Push the cocktail / matchstick through the hole. Find a smooth surface and spin your top!