MAHOMET — From tic-tac-toe to ViewMasters to thaumatropes, children and adults alike tried out toys of days gone by Monday at the Museum of the Grand Prairie north of Mahomet.
The event, part of “Museum Mondays,” was called “Toy Stories” and offered a chance to learn decades-old games or try to make their own thaumatropes — which aren’t quite as complicated as they sound.
The children decorated patterns on two pieces of paper, then cut each into a small circle. The papers were then glued together, with the designs facing out, of course, and strings attached to each side. The user then twisted the string and let it go to make the circlular paper contraption spin, and the effect is a visual toy combining both designs. These included a butterfly that appeared to be in a jar when the thaumatrope was spun.
According to information from the museum, the thaumatrope is an optical illusion children’s toy that was popular in the 1800s. The devices helped pave the way for motion picture animation later in history.
The children also tried out stereoscopes, invented in the early 1800s. Looking through one of these image-viewing devices, two two-dimensional photos appear three-dimensional.
Old favorites like tic-tac-toe in the form of marbles on a board were presented, and, outside, youngsters learned an old game of rolling a wooden hoop by using a stick.
Speaking of which, the museum also offered up this fun fact: In 2004, the stick was awarded the distinction of “oldest toy” by the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2004. Children employ sticks in make-believe fun ranging from using them as swords to fishing poles, magic wands and more.