Penny Slide Game for Birthday Party

by Robert Godard
Penny slide games require only a board and some pennies.

Penny slide games require only a board and some pennies.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When deciding what to do for a birthday party, sometimes it may be helpful to add a simple game to the list, something that can be easily picked up by everyone. Requiring only a board and five pennies, a penny slide game can be the ideal choice.


The penny slide game, known as "Shove Ha'penny," was invented in the 1840s and was played by children and adults alike. Shove Ha'penny was popular because it could easily be set up on any flat surface where lines could be drawn, which were used to designate point values. Early versions of the game date back to the 15th century and it was an especially popular game played in local taverns.

How to Play

In order to start playing, you must first get a board. Shove Ha'penny boards can be purchased online or you can improvise one of your own. The board should be hardwood and ideally each line drawn on it should be indented, although this is not necessary. The board should be about 24 x 14 inches. The first line is drawn four inches from the front and succeeding lines are drawn 1 and 1/4 inch apart. Ten lines should be drawn total. Players get five coins each and must shove them down the board. The goal is to get a coin to lay completely in the spaces between each of the lines, or "beds," without touching the lines. Players must get three pennies in each bed to win. Players alternate until this is accomplished. At the end of each turn, players' coins are counted and they are taken off the board.


There are various techniques that can be applied when playing Shove Ha'Penny. Most players will choose to use the heel of their hand to shove the penny but it may be more effective to use your palm, index finger or thumb. In addition, you can use one penny to push other pennies to new positions. If you can practice this, you will optimize your scoring ability.

Progressive Shove Ha'Penny

One variation of Shove Ha'Penny is known as "progressive." The game is played the same; the only difference is that at the end of a player's turn, any penny that has scored is given back to the player to try again. This is repeated until the player is out of pennies. This rewards players for scoring, as is common in billiards or croquet, and may potentially make for a quicker and more exciting game.

About the Author

Robert Godard began writing in 2007 for various creative blogs and academic publications. He has been featured on multiple film blogs and has worked in the film industry. He attended Baltimore College, earning his B.A. in history.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images