Hopscotch game: Everything you’d want to know! 

Child hopping through the Hopscotch court
Hoppity Hop!

What is Hopscotch game?

Kunte Belle, Laylay, Paandi, Potsy, Hopscotch… we know it by many names. Popularly known as Hopscotch, this playground game has managed to entertain kids all over the world for generations. It is one of the oldest and most popular streets/playground games to exist. Before we had Fortnite, DOTA, Counter-Strike, or even Mario, it was games like Hopscotch that kept kids entertained and still does to this day! It’s been said that the game dates back to 3,000 years ago to the days of Ancient Rome. This game has stood the test of time and is still entertaining children all over the world today.

There are many variations of the Hopscotch game all over the world. But almost all variations follow a basic rule – the player throws a small object into numbered spaces and then hops through it to recover the object. The beauty of the game lies in the fact that it can be played by a group of players or alone. We’ve got all the deets on this game that has managed to keep children entertained for thousands of years. 

Where and when did the Hopscotch game originate?

A Roman soldier's sculpture
3000 years ago…

Hopscotch is centuries old and dates back to the days of Ancient Rome. Even though there is no conclusive evidence to prove this, it has been said that the game was invented to train Roman soldiers and the courts spanned to over 100 feet. The Hopscotch court was used to help Roman foot soldiers to improve their footwork as they ran the course in full armour.

Roman children are said to have taken inspiration from the game played by the soldiers. They played a smaller version of the game and added a scoring system. Soon enough, the game became popular all over Europe.

The first recorded reference of the game by its name dates back to the 17th century when it was called “Scotch-hop”. In Poor Robin’s Almanack series for 1677, the game makes an appearance under the name ‘Scotch-hoppers”.

How to draw Hopscotch game court?

Cartoon image of a person playing Hopscotch with Hopscotch court clearly visible

In order to play the game, you need to first draw out the court. The traditional way to do this is to either draw it on the road/pavement using chalk or by etching it out on dirt/sand using a stick. In places such as a school playground, the court is drawn permanently with paint. 

The traditional Hopscotch court comprises a series of 8 or 10 squares in a linear format. In the pattern, “square 1” is followed by “square 2” and “square 3” in a parallel manner. After which comes “square 4” followed by “square 5” and “square 6” drawn in parallel. This continues with the next squares with “square 10” being the home square. In another variant, there is a square next to square number 10 that is considered to be the home square.

Many variants of the game have circles or rectangles instead of squares and have more or less than 10 squares. The measurement of the court is usually decided by the players depending on the age of the players. The smaller the children are, the smaller the squares to make it easy for them to hop through.

How to play Hopscotch game?

Cartoon image of kids playing Hopscotch

There are many variations of Hopscotch. But the basic rules and playing strategy remain pretty much the same for all the variations. The game involves three elements mainly- a court, a marker, and a player/players.

The explanation of how to play the game is hidden in the name ‘Hopscotch’ itself. While the ‘hop’ part makes sense, the ‘scotch’ of it might be confusing since our understanding of the word might have nothing to do with children or playground games. ‘Scotch’ in this refers to a ‘scratch’ or an ‘incised line’. The game basically involves hopping over lines or in this case shapes.

The game utilizes a small object which might be anything ranging from a stone to a coin. The player tosses the object into the first square making sure the object lands within the square. Then, the player hops through the squares skipping the square with the object in it. Depending on whether the square is single or side-by-side, the player hops on a single leg or can use both their legs respectively. The player continues this until they reach square 10 or ‘home’ square.

Then the player turns around and retraces their journey hopping through squares until they reach the square with the object in it. The player stops before the square with the object and retrieves the object without stepping into the square. Upon successfully retrieving the object, the player continues the game by throwing the object into the second square and repeating the game.

In the case of multiple players, every player gets a chance to throw the object and loses their chance only if they break any of the rules. What are the rules, you ask? Let’s find out!

Hopscotch game rules!

A hand writing down 'Rules' on a Chalkboard
  • In case of multiple players, if the player throws the object in the wrong square, they will miss their chance and it will be the next player’s turn to play.
  • If the player steps on the line, enter the wrong square, loses their balance, misses a square, or steps into a single square with both feet in, they lose their turn.
  • If the player loses their chance, on their next turn, they will have to repeat from the same number they stopped at before they lost their chance.
  • Whoever manages to finish the sequence by throwing the object in all the squares wins the game!

What are the different variations of the Hopscotch game?

Spiral Hopscotch court

There are plenty of variations of the Hopscotch game around the world. We have compiled some fun variations which will make the game much more challenging and fun!

  • In one of the most popular variations of the game, the object is kicked with the hopping foot from one box to another.
  • In another challenging variant, after a player has completed their sequence, they mark their initials on the square they just finished which becomes neutral only for that player. Other players are expected to skip that square while they play their turn.
  • Under another variant, the players are expected to complete the sequence within a time limit (usually 30 -60 seconds).

Hopscotch game around the world

Image of a globe on Hopscotch court

In India

Hopscotch game in India is known by many names. In regions where Hindi is the prominent language, the game goes by Kith-Kith, Stapu, and Langdi. In Bengal, it is known as Ekhaat Duhaat or Ekka Dukka. You can find kids in Maharashtra enjoying a game of Langdi Paani. The game is widely popular in South India and is known by the names Kunte Bille (Karnataka), Paandi (Tamil Nadu), Tokkudu Billa (Andra Pradesh and Telangana).

In Australia

The Australian Hopscotch is quite different from the traditional Hopscotch. In this version, the game is played in different stages. The first stage is completed according to the traditional rules. In the next stage called ‘Jumps’, the player is required to traverse through each square by jumping in with both feet. The last stage ‘Sizzles’ is the toughest where the players are supposed to jump into each square with both their feet, except in this case their feet are crossed.

Escargot

The French version of Hopscotch is popularly known as Escargot meaning ‘snail’. The name itself explains a bit about how the game is played. The players have to traverse through a spiral course and reach the centre of the spiral and then retrace their steps back to the beginning. This version is much tougher than the traditional Hopscotch as the court is harder to hop through.

Potsy

The game is quite popular in New York City by the name ‘Potsy’. 

Laylay

In Iran, the game popularly goes by the Persian name Laylay. This version of the game is quite different and uses an even number of squares placed side-by-side.

Rayuela

If you ever want to play the game in Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Spain, Nicaragua, and Uruguay, it helps to know the game goes by the name Rayuela.

Himmel und Holle

Translating into ‘Heaven and Hell’, Himmel und Holle is the name for Hopscotch in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The space below the first square is called ‘earth’ and the second to last square is the Hell and the last square is heaven.

Peevers 

In Glasgow, the game is popularly known by the object it is played with which is called ‘peever’. The game is known by the same name in Edinburgh too.

Tumatu

Children in Ghana won’t recognise the word ‘Hopscotch’ but call it ‘Tumatu’ and they will be more than excited to play.

Amarelinha 

Amarelinha is the name ‘Hopscotch’ goes by in Brazil.

Chindro 

The South Asian version of Hopscotch is popularly known as Chindro.

Hopscotch game world records

World record image
  • Fastest game of Hopscotch- The fastest game of Hopscotch was completed by Ashrita Furman in New York in 1 minute 1.97 seconds on 9th November 2010.
  • Longest Hopscotch game- Brand Teenmix of Belle International (China) in Guangzhou created the longest Hopscotch game measuring 20,144 ft 9.47 inches) in May of 2016.
  • Most number of people playing Hopscotch- The record for the most number of people playing Hopscotch simultaneously goes to ‘Move over Sheffield’ in Sheffield, the United Kingdom on 20th May 2019. 664 People played the game simultaneously in the event which was organised to spread awareness about the importance of physical activity.

Hopscotch game FAQs

A jar filled with papers with question marks on them
  • What is Hopscotch game?

Hopscotch is a street/playground game that consists of a court with boxes and requires the players to throw an object into one of the boxes and hop through the boxes to retrieve the object.

  • Who invented the Hopscotch game?

The Hopscotch is said to have been invented during the days of Ancient Rome to train Roman soldiers.

  • What is used to draw the Hopscotch court?

Usually, chalk or crayons is used to draw the court on a pavement. In schools and certain playgrounds, paint is used to draw a permanent court.

  • How many players are required to play the game?

Hopscotch game can be played by a single player or multiple players.

  • How many squares does a Hopscotch court have?

The traditional Hopscotch court has 10 squares but one can draw as many squares as they want.

  • Where is the game Hopscotch played?

Hopscotch is played all around the world under different names.

  • What does the game Hopscotch teach?

Hopscotch helps children master balance and hand-eye coordination.

  • Is Hopscotch a street game?

Yes, Hopscotch is predominantly a street game.

  • How old is Hopscotch game?

The origins of Hopscotch dates back to the 17th century.

  • What does the ‘scotch’ in Hopscotch game mean?

The word ‘scotch’ in Hopscotch means an ‘incised line’ or a ‘scratched line’.

  • What do you need to play Hopscotch game?

You need a small object to throw into the court, something to draw the court with, and as many players as you want.

  • What is a marker in Hopscotch game?

A marker is the object one throws into the court while playing Hopscotch. The marker can be anything from a stone to a coin.

References:

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