How to Play Hopscotch (And Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Play)

Hopscotch is a versatile game that’s super easy to play, so it’s no wonder it’s been around for so long. Have you been wondering how to play hopscotch or been wondering why you should teach your kids to play hopscotch?

It can be played with just one person or with a whole group of friends, and all you need is a piece of chalk and a rock. It’s that easy. You can play with the traditional playground rules or you can make up your own. It’s that open to interpretation.

While no one really knows where it came from, history leads us to believe that hopscotch started in Britain during the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers used it to practise footwork and exercise, and they would do it in their full armour, too!

And, as well all know, children look up to people in uniform, so children would mimic the soldiers, adding a scoring system to the game. Hopscotch was born!

It’s a game for everyone. You can play inside or outside. And it can even teach your child important skills. So let’s get started.

Here’s what you’ll need to play hopscotch. Get ready to write it all down. It’s a really long list. Seriously. Are you ready? I’m not kidding. You’re going to need a pen and a piece of paper. Go. Run. Now.

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • A rock

Okay, it’s not that long. It’s actually really simple. If you don’t have a rock, you can substitute a stick. Or a LEGO. Or literally any small toy. If you’re playing inside, you can substitute your sidewalk chalk for masking tape. Done.

How to Draw a Hopscotch Course

Traditionally, a hopscotch course is drawn with squares, containing one number in each square. It goes up to 8 or 10, but it can go as high as you want it to go, adding as much complexity to the game as desired.

Generally, numbers 1-3 are stacked on top of one another, 4 and 5 are side by side, 6 is alone, 7 and 8 are side by side, and 9 and 10 are stacked on top of one another.

However, some people will draw it in an alternating way where 1 is alone, 2 and 3 are side by side, 4 is alone, 5 and 6 are side by side, and so one, all the way to 10, where 10 is alone.

When we get to the different variations of the hopscotch game, you’ll see that there are endless ways you can draw a hopscotch course, and there’s no right or wrong way.

Rules of the Game

This old favorite has some classic rules that are fairly easy to follow. We’ll go over the classic rules first, but there are a few variations to the classic rules as well. After reading through all of the ways you can play, you can feel free to make up your own hopscotch rules!

1. Draw a hopscotch diagram.

Use your chalk to draw a diagram on the driveway, patio, porch, or sidewalk. You can make it any size you want. For smaller children just starting to learn, you can start with a smaller course until they’re ready to graduate to something bigger.

2. Throw your rock.

Throw the rock, or whatever item you’re using, onto the first square. The goal is to make it into the middle of the square. If it lands on a line, you miss your turn. Pass the item to the next player and wait for your next turn.

3. Hop through the course.

Now the goal is to hop through the course, skipping the square where you threw the rock. Hop on one foot through the single squares, and land on two feet where there are two squares side by side.

4. Turn around and hop back.

At the top of the course, hop with both feet, turn around, and hop back through the course the same way. Stop at the square with your rock, pick it up, and complete the course.

If you step on a line at any point, you lose your turn.

5. Pass it to the next player.

If you complete the course without any mistakes, you can pass the rock to the next player. On your next turn, you will toss the rock on the second square and complete the course the same way you did the first time.

If you make a mistake, you will miss your turn and have to try that number again on your next turn. The first player to make it to the last number on the course without any mistakes, wins.

If you’re having trouble visualizing the concept, here’s a quick video:

Hopscotch Variations

The classic rules are fairly simple, but it can still be a pretty complicated game to get the hang of, even for adults. It requires balance, aim, and skill. Once you master it, try a different variation to make it even harder!

1. Set a timer.

Try setting a timer for 30 seconds or one minute. You can vary the time based on your child’s age or the size of your hopscotch course. Every player has to complete the course without any mistakes in the time frame to move on to the next round.

If you go over your time, you lose your turn. Yikes!

2. Kick the rock.

Rather than tossing the rock, kick it. It’s a lot harder to aim with your foot than it is your arm. You’ll soon find that the game lasts a lot longer this way, and you lose a lot more turns. But it’s funny, and fun to watch.

3. Sign here.

Rather than doing the course in order, toss the rock on any square you want. Once you successfully complete that turn, sign your name in the square. The first person to sign every square wins.

4. Rearrange the squares.

Rather than drawing the traditional hopscotch course, come up with your own design. You can rearrange the squares in a different order, or they don’t even have to be squares at all. You can make circles, or triangles, or a mixture of all three.

Your entire course could be in the shape of a circle or a rainbow. Your squares can all be different sizes, or in a diagonal line instead of straight. The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing your very own hopscotch course, and it can make it a whole lot more difficult than you think.

5. Categories.

Create a whole new level of complexity by naming your hopscotch squares with categories instead of numbers. Use pizza toppings, animals, movies, books, desserts, or vacation destinations.

When you hop on the square, you have to shout out the name of something in that category. If you can’t think of anything, or you repeat something that someone else has already said, you lose your turn.

6. Alternate legs.

You already have to alternate hopping on one leg and jumping on both. Now try playing hopscotch by alternating which single leg you hop on to get through the single squares.

For instance, if you have numbers 1-3 stacked on top of one another, 4 and 5 together, 6 alone, 7 and 8 together, and 9 and 10 stacked, you have to start with your right foot. Alternate hopping on your right leg, left leg, right leg, all the way to 10. It would go something like this:

1 – RIGHT

2 – LEFT

3 – RIGHT

4 & 5 – BOTH

6 – LEFT

7 & 8 – BOTH

9 – RIGHT

10 – BOTH

9 – LEFT

7 & 8 – BOTH

6 – RIGHT

4 & 5 – BOTH

3 – LEFT

2 – RIGHT

1 – LEFT

Can you do it? If you mess up, you lose your turn.

7. Hop backwards.

Do the entire hopscotch course backwards. I’m not sure I could. It also sounds hilarious.

Benefits of Playing Hopscotch

Playing hopscotch is fun, and you should never downplay the benefits of your child having plenty of fun. However, there are also a lot of social, physical, and cognitive benefits to the game.

For preschoolers, it’s a great game to learn to play, because it can teach them some very important skills that will help them with their development. Besides, at this age, the best learning happens through play.

Cognitive development

Playing a game like hopscotch involves following the rules and playing with purpose. You can’t play all willy nilly. Involving this thought process should help your preschooler with their cognitive development in a variety of ways like thinking about:

  • How to jump through the squares
  • Where to throw the rock
  • Which feet go in which squares
  • How to turn around at the top
  • Whether to use one foot or two
  • How to pick up the rock on the way back
  • How to avoid touching the lines
  • Which number to throw the rock on next

This game uses a lot of brain power, and your preschooler won’t get it right all at once, but it’s still a great way to stimulate their cognitive development. Coupled with the physical demands of the game, it’s definitely not easy, but it’s a great bonding opportunity for both of you as well.

person playing hopscotch

Strength

Your child will have to have control over their entire body as they play this game. Jumping, hopping, moving, and changing positions all the time will require great core body strength.

It’s a great way to get physical exercise and emphasize the importance of being active.

Balance

Hopscotch can build several gross motor skills, but balance is one of the most important. Your child has to balance while hopping on either one foot or two and switch back and forth throughout the whole course.

They also have to work on balancing while they bend over to pick up their rock, which involves both fine and gross motor skills at the same time!

Hand-eye coordination

Not only does your child have to bend over to pick up the rock, but your child also has to throw the rock in the right square in the first place. They have to get it in the square without touching the line, and then they have to use hand-foot coordination to hop in the squares without touching the lines, too.

It’s great practice for a skill that they’ll use in most sports and other activities they’ll do for the rest of their lives. That includes important things they’ll need to learn later like driving a car.

Bilateral coordination

Your child will also build the ability to use both sides of their body at the same time in a coordinated way. It’s a skill they’ll use for tasks like getting dressed and eating. It’s also used in riding a bike and playing sports.

It’s required for hopscotch because your child has to hop on one foot and then coordinate using both legs together. It seems easy for us, but it’s a difficult skill for a younger child to master.

Math skills

As you’ve already noticed, the squares on a hopscotch course have numbers. Sure, it helps them learn to count, but the real value comes from counting while they move at the same time.

Seeing the numbers increase and decrease in action is the best way for your child to learn right now.

Social skills

Hopscotch involves cooperating, following the rules, taking turns, and considering others. These are all important life skills that your child needs to learn, so it’s a great game for them to learn to play.

Other skills

You shouldn’t discount hopscotch as a great way to learn just about anything your child might be struggling with. Replace the numbers in the squares with letters, colors, or foods. Shout them out as you hop.

This type of repetition and recognition in conjunction with physical activity can really help engage your child’s brain and solidify concepts.

Final Thoughts

Whether you played hopscotch as a child or not, you might have needed a bit of a refresher. Hopscotch can be a blast, even for adults, and it’s a fantastic learning and bonding opportunity for kids.

Hopefully you enjoyed the tutorial. If you have a hopscotch variation that your family loves, post it in the comments below! Thanks for joining!

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