Colorful Monkeys From Barrel
Credit: Enokson, va Flickr

Many Americans used to play barrel of monkeys and loved this toy game after its invention in year 1965. Then, the game has been forgotten for years. Thanks to being featured in Toy Story, it returns to entertain the new generation of kids.

While some of you remember how to play this fun game and can explain the rules to their children, others are new to this toy, or could do with a reminder. Let's start with an overview of the game.

Monkey barrel game overview

Classic version of the toy, which many remember from their childhood, consisted of a barrel and a dozen of monkeys in three different colours: blue, red and yellow. Modern set is similar. There's a colorfull barrel and 12 plastic monkeys with twisted arms inside - although all of them share the same colour. You can choose between a green set, or one of the three basic colours.

Barrel of monkeys rules

Instruction, which explains, how to play with the toy, comes with its container. Rules of the game are simple. Throw out the toys from the barrel and grab one of them by the arm. Now comes the tricky part. Manipulate the toy to join its free arm with the other monkey and lift the chain. Got it? Now, attempt to add third monkey to the chain and so on.

You are allowed to drop the toy, which you are trying to attach, but if your ape chain breaks, you lose your turn. Some players like to connect the chain on the table and attempt to lift it smoothly.

Barrel of monkeys: counting the score

Choose any rules, which you like, before starting the game. Popular ways to count the score:

  • First player to build the chain of 12 monkeys wins the game.
  • Player with the best score in a set number of rounds wins, when the score for a given turn equals the length of the chain, which has been built in this turn.
  • Player, who creates the longest chain in a set number of rounds, or in one round of a set duration wins.

You can also play the game alone and challenge yourself to build a complete chain as fast, as possible - remember to use a timer to avoid cheating yourself.

Barrel of Monkeys
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(price as of Jun 30, 2015)

Other ways to play monkey barrel

When children get bored with practicing coordination and patience, use this toy game for kids to teach them a math lesson. First, place monkeys of different colors in the barrel. Then, let competitors guess the color and draw the toy from a container in turns. Player, who guessed correctly, keeps his ape. Whoever has most of the toy figures when the barrel is empty wins.

Did the kids notice, that it's easier to guess the color, when they pay attention to the colors of the figures, which have been drawn by other players? That's a practical introduction to the theory of probability.

Set the barrel a few feet from you and try to throw tiny figures inside. Will you give additional points for a monkey hanging on the edge of the barrel? That's a fun way to clean up after playing the game.

Can you throw up the monkey and catch it with your finger?

Monkeying Around
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(price as of Jun 30, 2015)

Play barrel of monkeys as a puzzle game

Did you know, that you can connect two monkeys in many different ways? While most of the possible links are inefficient for building a long ape chain, you can build a 2d or 3d puzzle, connecting monkeys and repeating one, or two types of a link.

Discover, how a different link combinations influence the shape and symmetry of your monkey puzzle. Scientists use this toy game to explain the structure of DNA helix and protein molecules. Of course, you would need a few sets in a different colors for such construction experiments.

How to play barrel of monkeys safely?

Plastic monkeys pose a choking hazard for young children, so remember to put all the toys into the barrel and set it asid, when your family is finished with the game. This helps you to avoid losing the figures as well.