Children's Toys and Games in the 40s

By Bayard Tarpley
Family playing board game together.

Some of the games children played in the 1940s are still around today. Scrabble, for example, is still popular even though it was invented in 1948. Other games, however, have been mostly forgotten, such as one game involving balancing an orange on a spoon while trying to knock your opponent's own orange off.

Board Games

Board game.

Several board games were invented and became popular in the 1940s. Aside from Scrabble, Candy Land was invented, as was Chutes and Ladders. Candy Land was one of the few board games at the time made specifically for children. Clue, a murder mystery board game still popular today, was created in the U.K. in 1944 by Anthony E. Pratt, who named it Cluedo. Parker Brothers bought U.S. rights to the game in 1949 and renamed it Clue.

Silly Putty

Silly putty.

Peter Hodgson and James Wright invented Silly Putty in 1943 entirely by accident. While trying to create a synthetic rubber, Wright made what became Silly Putty while working for an electric company. Hodgson suggested packaging it in an egg and selling it as a toy that bounced and stretched.

Tonka Trucks

Tonka Truck.

Prior to the war, big machines were becoming useful in construction. At the same time, toys that were modeled on real-life objects were also very popular. These two things combined to create the popular Tonka Truck toys, small models of construction trucks.

Slinky

Slinky.

During World War II, Richard James, a Navy engineer, curiously watched a spring as it fell to the floor. Intrigued by its motion, he made his own at home, modeled entirely around imitating that motion. Although he did not believe it would become popular as a toy, the first 400 sold within two hours. Since its invention, the only change in the Slinky's design has been the addition of a fold to the ends to prevent children from scratching themselves.

Cheap Games

Old fashioned clothespins.

The war caused rationing, which limited the toys children were able to get. This led to kids having to invent their own games. These games usually consisted of no physical materials except for those easily found around the house. For example, one game consisted simply of dropping clothes pins into a glass bottle; another consisted of having two teams of players sit at opposite ends of a table and try to blow a ping-pong ball off the end of the table.

About the Author

Bayard Tarpley began writing professionally in 2006. He has written for various print and online publications, including "The Corner News," specializing in health and computer topics. Tarpley majored in English at Auburn University.