Remember the days in the old school yard? Yes?
April 5, 2009 9:31 PM   Subscribe

I can't believe I'm asking this, but its on behalf of a friend (yes really!) so ... Remember in school, where you would fold a bit of paper up so you could stick four fingers inside the shape, write things on various bits of it and then move your fingers back and forth and have different things visible? I think sometimes it was used to be a fake decision maker or future predictor (like "how many children will I have?") Well I was having a discussion about googling to figure out how to make one... problem is, none of us know what its called! Or even what to vaguely query! Anyone else have a clue what I'm on about?
posted by Admira to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (44 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Cootie catcher? Fortune teller? I think we just called them fortune tellers.
posted by rossination at 9:32 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


We definitely called them fortune tellers.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:33 PM on April 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I always called them cootie catchers. Wikipedia has some alternate names.
posted by snowleopard at 9:33 PM on April 5, 2009


A google search for paper fortune teller turned up this link, among others.
posted by griseus at 9:34 PM on April 5, 2009


Wikipedia calls them cootie catchers with fortune teller as an alternate name.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:34 PM on April 5, 2009


The bottom of snowleopard's link has two links on how to make one: 1, 2
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:35 PM on April 5, 2009


We called them "cootie catchers" in Quebec.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 PM on April 5, 2009


Just fortune tellers. South Park devoted an entire episode to them :-D
posted by Sgt.Grumbless at 9:49 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe OT, but the "grownup" version might be the hexaflexagon.
posted by fritley at 9:50 PM on April 5, 2009


I think we called them "clackers" in Montreal, but that became confusing after the awesome and eye-endangering clackers became available.

A little Googling shows this Australian page that says the device was called a chatterbox, fortune teller, cootie catcher or clacker.
posted by maudlin at 9:53 PM on April 5, 2009


'Hexaflexagon' is such a great word I just had to do a search...what a cool geometric plaything! Check 'em out on youtube!

ps~Kids are still making cootie catchers/fortune tellers/clackers, chatterboxes... It's comforting to see some traditions continue through the generations, and each new generation of kids thinks they invented it, whatever 'it' is!
posted by sparrowdance at 10:10 PM on April 5, 2009


We called them fortune tellers. My friends and I still make them when we're bored at work.
posted by lilac girl at 10:13 PM on April 5, 2009


We called them cootie catchers too.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 PM on April 5, 2009


We Aussies call them Chatterboxes. I have a seven year old daughter, so I'm proficient at folding them.
posted by Duke999R at 10:30 PM on April 5, 2009


We called it M.A.S.H., sounds like a combination of this and the paper folds.
posted by thatbrunette at 10:42 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hexaflexagons are neat, too, but they're not the same thing.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:48 PM on April 5, 2009


Cootie-catchers in western Washington, but they were used as fortune tellers.
posted by hattifattener at 10:54 PM on April 5, 2009


I second M.A.S.H. That's what we called them in Northern California.
posted by KissesGalore at 10:54 PM on April 5, 2009


Wow all these answers already ... thanks!!!
posted by Admira at 11:11 PM on April 5, 2009


I just asked my 9 year old niece this same question last year, and she said "fortune teller." This is in Northern California, since I would think the answers here would be fairly regional.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 PM on April 5, 2009


I think we had two names for them, one of which made sense, and the other sounded like "gwahtchimoe."
posted by Good Brain at 11:21 PM on April 5, 2009


Cootie catchers in Southern Ontario. It would be interesting (in an "oh, huh" sort of way) to see the geographical distribution of the various names for these things.
posted by wsp at 11:25 PM on April 5, 2009


Cootie Catcher...southern Michigan.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:48 PM on April 5, 2009


I grew up in Chicago in the eighties/ nineties, and I wanted to say MASH, too, but now that I stop to think about it, I think (for me, at least), they were different. To play MASH, you made a list of five possible answers under each category: Man you will marry, Car you will drive, Place you will live, etc, and then you would close your eyes and draw a spiral on the paper. You'd count how many rings the spiral had, and then (I think I'm remembering this right) you would go through all the answers, crossing off every x (number of rings) answer. The last answer that remained in each column was the 'right' one.
(I can't believe I remember this! I haven't thought about this in years.)

As for the hexaflexagon thing, I don't remember calling it any of the above possibilities. Does anyone remember how it was that you determined how many movements to make? (You ask the question, the kid holding it moves it in and out say, five times, then you unfold the corner to see your answer. How did you come up with five?)
posted by queseyo at 12:00 AM on April 6, 2009


Does anyone remember how it was that you determined how many movements to make

I remember the questions being along the lines of "pick a color" (colors where written on the facing facets of the catcher) and then you would spell out the color while flexing the catcher, and then, "pick a number" - again, you would count out the number while flexing.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:15 AM on April 6, 2009


In Colorado in the 70's they were cootie catchers.

Does anyone remember how it was that you determined how many movements to make?

The number of movements made was based on the number of letters in your answer. At least, that's what I recall.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:24 AM on April 6, 2009


Dammit, now I'm trying to remember what on earth we called them in 1970s Wales!

There are how to make them videos on YouTube - I don't have speakers at the moment so can't tell you if they include the how to use them.

One featured in a recent episode of the final season of ER - the little girl with sickle cell anaemia was telling Neela's fortune.
posted by ceri richard at 1:57 AM on April 6, 2009


cootie catcher --- central Illinois
posted by leahwrenn at 4:10 AM on April 6, 2009


salt cellar - Glasgow, Scotland.
posted by scruss at 4:47 AM on April 6, 2009


Fortune Teller, New York, 80s.
posted by miasma at 4:51 AM on April 6, 2009


It's a future telling device.
posted by mathlete at 5:19 AM on April 6, 2009


I am very thankful for this post, as when I went to school (early-mid 80s), the name and construction of these wonderful and mysterious devices were a closely guarded female secret. Being an icky boy, I could never get a girl to divulge the information (even though I was often made to participate in the arcane ritual surrounding the device. Said ritual typically ended in mockery and shame).
posted by zerokey at 6:03 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't remember calling them anything in central Indiana, but my kids both assure me that here in Southwest Ohio, they're cootie catchers.
posted by cooker girl at 7:00 AM on April 6, 2009


Fortune teller (Northeasten Ohio)
posted by ubersturm at 7:01 AM on April 6, 2009


Yes! Fortune tellers! I have learned to not make them at parties, unless I'm willing to make one for everyone.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:44 AM on April 6, 2009


Cootie catcher, eastern US, mid-70s. M.A.S.H. was totally different! M.A.S.H. (Mansion, Attic, Sewer, House) had more answers/choices and it was always about what kind of house you would live in, where, who you would marry, etc. We used cootie catchers as either fortune tellers or dares, where you had to do the thing that was uncovered on the second round of unfolding.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:47 AM on April 6, 2009


They were called cootie-catchers (but used to tell fortunes). Long Island, NY. Late-60s.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2009


M.A.S.H. in 1970s Portland (Oregon), although girls I went to summer camp with called them 'cootie catchers'. I suspect someone's mom at my school thought that uncouth.

Such things were banned in my Catholic grade school. Another good reason to wear gym shorts with pockets under the uniform skirt!
posted by catlet at 9:16 AM on April 6, 2009


Cootie catchers (1970's California, central coast). Some sort of fortune-telling device, but I don't know much more beyond that.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 9:28 AM on April 6, 2009


Growing up in the early-mid '90s in Pennsylvania, we called them fortune tellers and yeah, MASH was totally different, played like cocoagirl described and always seemed very serious.
posted by Shesthefastest at 11:33 AM on April 6, 2009


M.A.S.H. (Mansion, Attic, Sewer, House)

It was Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House in the mid-1980's in Westchester County, New York.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:28 PM on April 6, 2009


M.A.S.H. (Mansion, Attic, Sewer, House)

This is what it was down in Brooklyn, too.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:04 PM on April 6, 2009


Growing up in India, we called those four cups.
posted by peacheater at 9:49 PM on April 6, 2009


When I went to school these were called bada-badas. This was in Australia.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:03 AM on April 7, 2009


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