The ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed playing marbles. Early games used balls made of stone such as marble, hence the name. Glass marbles were called steelies. Clay marbles were called commoneys. Brown marbles were called stonies and alabaster marbles were called allies. Children made their own marbles by rolling and baking clay. They usually carried the wet clay from the nearest river, lake or stream! These homemade marbles were called marididdles.

Children also got marbles from special fizzy pop bottles called Codd bottles. The Codd bottle was named after its inventor Hiram Codd who designed it in the shape of a fish! The fizz was kept in the pop by a glass marble in the top of the bottle. When the pop was finished the children smashed the Codd Bottle to get the marble out. The marble from the Codd bottle was called an Ali Bop - an allie from a pop bottle!

Suggested activity: Make marididdles

You will need:

  • A bucket full of wet clay. If you get this from a nearby river, lake or stream. Ask an adult to carry the bucket!
  • A baking tray
  • A warm oven
  • Some paint

Shape pieces of the clay into different sized balls. Place them onto the baking tray. Bake them in a warm oven. When they are ready remove them from the oven and leave them to cool. When they are cold paint them with bright colours. Now you can play marbles with marididdles!