Skittles Game

While on vacation in the Spring 0f 2019,  visiting the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky I came across a game called Skittles. I had never heard of it before but my husband and I read the directions and it was quite easy to learn.

According to Games of the World, Skittles was known as “quilles” in early France, then became popular in England during the 14th Century.  The English gradually changed the name – to “kayles” to “kettle” to “kittles” to skittles” – and the game was a favorite for tavern betting.

The early skittles game was man-sized: a tall pole with a ball swung from a rope to knock down the pin.  In the Netherlands and Germany, the same game was played by rolling a ball with fingerholes towards the pins.  Dutch colonists brought their game to America where it developed into the modern sport of bowling.

The example we saw at Pleasant Hill and one we subsequently purchased for home were produced at Berea College in Kentucky.  Berea’s version of the popular skittle board was brought to their Woodcraft program by a professor who wanted a game made like those he had used as a child in England.  That was in 1929.  Since then, Berea student woodworkers have built thousands of the popular games.  The size, design and construction methods have changed over the years.

Skittles is popular in camps, resorts and anywhere people gather for fun.  A game in the lobby of Berea College’s Boon Tavern Hotel has introduced hundreds of travelers to Skittles.

Instructions: Each player takes a spinner and string. Wrap the string around the middle of the spinner shank, insert into the gate with the string out, hold the top of the spinner lightly with one finder and pull the string straight back with the other hand.  The spinner will move around the board and knock down pins.  It does take some skill to wind up the spinner shank and get it launched to try and hit the skittle pins at the other end.

Using the scoring card, circle the pins that are knocked down with each spin.  Scoring is based on total points uncovered when pins are knocked down.  Add/subtract the numbers in the circle.  The score for one spin can range from -20 to 275.

Here is what the Skittles game looks like.








Click on the picture below to see the game in action.

One thought on “Skittles Game

  1. Laura Riveira Orton

    My family had this game in the 60’s while living in Hialeah, (Miami) Fla. We had an absolute ball with it! The neighbors would come over in the evening & play along. I distinctly remember wrapping the pin just right so it would release like a tornado! We’d laugh sOo hard if the little pin would start acting crazy & if you set if off just right it would clear the board! (Trying to find another one)


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