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March 7th, 2003


“Heads down, thumbs down…”

A few minutes later: “7-up, heads up!”

A favorite classroom distraction during elementary school was “7-Up,” a simple game that got kids to be quiet, but also allowed those same kids a respite from learning their multiplication tables.

In 7-Up, seven students would stand at the head of the classroom. The remaining students put their heads down on their desk and made a fist with one hand, except for an upwards-pointing thumb. The seven standing students would then make their way around the room, each touching one person’s thumb. The person that was touched then put their thumb down, so as not to be picked twice.

When the seven students were done and were back standing at the front of the room, the seven students whose thumbs had been touched, stood beside their desk and tried to guess who the toucher was. If they were correct, they’d replace the toucher at the front of the room. And if a toucher managed to not get picked by the student he touched, the toucher stayed in the game for another round.

Some kids cheated. With their heads down, they’d try to sneak a peek at the toucher’s shoes. You could always tell the kids that tried this, as they’d crane their heads to see what kinds of shoes everyone was wearing.

Other kids didn’t cheat, they used their brains. For instance, a soft hand touching you was likely a female, while a large, rough hand likely belonged to the kid in the Beer Power t-shirt.

From the toucher’s perspective, there was a little psychology involved. Often, boys would try to touch someone’s thumb as lightly as possible, to confuse the touchee into thinking they were touched by a girl (sometimes this backfired and the person wouldn’t even realize they had been touched, which just caused mayhem). Of course, some didn’t care and would practically jam the thumbs of the poor students with their heads down.

Some touchers would use 7-Up as their opportunities to sneak a touch of the girl they had a crush on. Stop laughing. Hey, come on, now… I only did it because I really liked her…

I think we all need to take a break today and play a game of 7-Up. Who’s with me?

(See also: Don’t Ask: What’s wrong with schools? 7-Up and Games and activities for primary and basic education [PDF])

Posted in Childhood Memories

FROM: jk
DATE: Friday March 7, 2003 -- 10:46:15 am
Oh my, you must be bored today! :o)

FROM: merv
DATE: Friday March 7, 2003 -- 11:24:15 am
how about if i just touch myself instead?

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday March 8, 2003 -- 5:20:48 am
I almost forgot about this game. Man, was elementary school ever stupid!

FROM: Matt
DATE: Sunday March 9, 2003 -- 11:46:41 am
A classic game. I'm down to play this anytime.

FROM: nolita
DATE: Wednesday March 12, 2003 -- 9:58:17 am
I'm even easier to entertain...I'm up for a game of duck, duck, goose!

FROM: Marcus
DATE: Wednesday March 12, 2003 -- 10:58:25 am
Dang, quit goosing me...


"Help, help... I'm being Ping Harassed." (said in a very Monty Python sort of way)



Oh and of a different sort of 7-up...

Anyone tried the upside down 7-up? I happened to find it out of curiousity at the gas station at the end of my block, and only realized it wasn't the "ORIGINAL" because it said "Caffeinated" (The Un-Cola = caffeine free). Anyhow, it tastes like a hybrid of Mountain Dew mixed with 7-up. It sounds a bit odd... but it's pretty good IMHO. Of course, your mileage may vary, as may your calorie intake...

Back to your regularly scheduled goosing and head's down sort of play...

FROM: Cindy
DATE: Monday March 17, 2003 -- 11:40:47 pm
Thank goodness I never played this!

FROM: Trudy
DATE: Friday August 22, 2003 -- 3:06:04 pm
I loved this game when I was in school and now use it in my classroom. They like it as well!!

FROM: Roberta
DATE: Tuesday November 11, 2003 -- 3:22:25 pm
Thanks for a trip down memory lane! I'd forgotten all of the rules of the game. I remember loving to play this game in grade school. It was a lot of fun! Thanks for the reminder! :)

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday September 9, 2004 -- 12:10:55 am
Thanks for this. My son just started kindergarten a few weeks ago and it made me think about what it was like to be in elementary school myself. Well, I'm 27 now so it's been a while. I remembered a game called 7-up, but I've been sitting here for two weeks trying to remember how it was played and now I remember. Thank you so much!!!


brandi. March 4, 2007, 4:23 pm

actually, it’s “head’s down, thumbs up”.

James March 7, 2007, 12:53 am

well i once had a girlfriend i dumped her

Vlek Norris December 21, 2007, 5:06 pm

I barely remembered the mechanics of this games but I do remember the smell of the desk like it was yesterday. When you had your arms wrapped around your head and your nose inches from the desk all you could smell was the harsh chemical cleaner the janitors use to use on the desk.

Thanks for the memory 🙂


olivia June 24, 2008, 4:44 pm

7UP is awesome i still play that game.

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