As children's games go, hopscotch is not only one of the oldest -- some say it dates back to the early Roman Empire -- but it's also one of the most popular. It's fun to play, doesn't require a lot of equipment, and is easy to learn, all of which makes it great for kids of all ages.

The following articles offer different versions of hopscotch and other hopping games. All you need is chalk for drawing the playing area and rocks or small stones to use as markers. The hardest part may be trying to decide which one to play. Have fun!

By the Numbers Hopscotch

This twist on traditional hopscotch mixes up the number sequence for hopping. See how to get started.

Hopscotch

Here's all you need to know about playing hopscotch. Learn more about the basic rules.

Hopping Games

Play these hopping games from different countries for a different kind of hopscotch. Find out how to play.

Gat Fei Gei

What's gat fei gei? The Chinese translation is "airplane hopscotch." See how to play.

Why not start your hopscotch games with a variation on the old favorite? Learn more about playing "By the Numbers" hopscotch.

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By the Numbers Hopscotch

Play hopscotch with a 12-way twist.
Play hopscotch with a 12-way twist.
Publications International, Ltd.

A "By the Numbers" hopscotch game is a fun variation on an old favorite. You don't need to toss a stone or use a marker for this version of hopscotch -- just keep hopping on one foot and try not to step on the wrong square. Think it's easy? Give it a try!

What You'll Need

Chalk

Sidewalk

How to Play By the Numbers Hopscotch

Step 1: Make a grid of 12 squares on the sidewalk. (Squares that are 2 feet by 2 feet are a good size.)

Step 2: Number the squares 1 to 12. (You don't need to number them in any particular order, but do be sure that a number isn't more than 1 row away from the number that came before it.)

Step 3: Hop on one foot from square 1 to square 2 to square 3 and so on.

Each player's turn ends when he or she accidentally steps out of a square or lands out of sequence.

Does that seem too easy? Make it trickier for players by making them put their hands behind their backs and repeat the process.

Still too easy? Try jumping to only even-numbered or only odd-numbered squares.

Now, how about playing the game the traditional way? Keep reading to find out how to play hopscotch.

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Hopscotch

Hopscotch is played in some form all over the world, but the basics remain the same: Players hop through marked squares while trying not to fall and not to step on the wrong square.

A flat stone or small rock is used to mark the squares on which the player is not allowed to hop. This marker is sometimes called a puck, pottsie, or "scotch" -- see where the game gets its name?

What You'll Need

Chalk

Rocks or other markers

Paved area for playing

How to Play Hopscotch

Step 1: Mark the court on a hard surface (like a sidewalk) with chalk. A line of squares should lead up to an end box. In some places, you can put two squares side by side. You can number the squares in order if you like.

Step 2: Toss the "scotch" into the first space. Jump over the space containing the scotch and continue hopping down the court.

Step 3: Always hop on the same foot, except where two squares are side by side. When the squares are side by side, you must "straddle" the squares, landing with one foot in each square.

Step 4: When you reach the end of the court, turn around and hop back. Losing your balance is a "miss" -- that means the player has to leave the court.

Step 5: If you complete the court without missing, step off the court. Then it's the next player's turn. When it's your turn again, pick up your scotch and toss it into the next square. Always hop over a square with a scotch in it. As more squares are taken up by scotches (as other players take their turns), the game becomes harder.

In some versions, players put both feet down to rest in any square that has their own scotch in it, but all other players must hop over that square.

Ready for more variations on the game? Keep reading to learn how kids play hopscotch or other hopping games in different countries.

For more fun activities and crafts, check out:

Hopping Games

If you like hopscotch, try these hopping games from different countries. Each one is a little different from the next, but you'll see that all of them use the basic idea of hopscotch.

Two games show how English kids and French kids play hopscotch; others have you capture the squares for a game of "Real Estate" or "Snail." Get ready, get set, get hopping!

What You'll Need

Paved area to play

Chalk

Rocks or other markers

How to Play "Real Estate"

Step 1: Draw a basic hopscotch court.

Step 2: Each time a player successfully completes the court, he or she carefully tosses the marker over one shoulder. If it lands in a square of the court, the player chalks his or her initials in it.

Step 3: The marked square then belongs to that player, and all others must hop over it. The owner of the square uses it as a resting spot.

The winner is the player who "owns" the most squares.

How to Play English Hopscotch

Players hold their markers between their feet and hop like kangaroos from one large, numbered square to the next. Dropping the marker means the player loses a turn.

How to Play "Snail"

Snail is played on a round court with an inside space. Players take turns hopping on one foot from the first space to the center, marked "rest," then back out. Players then toss the marker to get a square, as in "Real Estate."

How to Play French Hopscotch

Players perform stunts with the marker while hopping the court. Here's a common stunt: Hop on one foot from one square to the next. At the same time as you're hopping, kick the marker to the next square with the hopping foot or balance the marker on the back of a hand or foot while hopping.

In China, hopscotch is called "gat fei gei," which translates to "airplane hopscotch." Keep reading to learn more about it.

For more fun activities and crafts, check out:

Gat Fei Gei

"Gat Fei Gei" is Chinese for "airplane hopscotch." The hopscotch court is the same as for many traditional hopscotch games, but there's a tricky twist to this game -- you have to pick up your marker by bending backwards and reaching over your shoulder!

One you've mastered that, try to capture and own as many squares as you can. But watch out -- the other players will try to own your squares too. Here's how to get started:

What You'll Need

Paved area to play

Chalk

Rocks or other markers

How to Play Gat Fei Gei

Step 1: Each player hops on one foot to squares one, two, and three, "straddles" (lands with one foot in each square) four and five, hops on one foot into six, straddles seven and eight, and rests at the pig's head. Then, each player turns and hops back in reverse.

Step 2: Next, each player stands one by one with toes against square one and tosses a marker at the pig's head. The player hops through the boxes and must retrieve the marker by reaching over one shoulder and bending backwards. Successful players claim square one with their initials.

Step 3: Now, players step and land on two feet only in their own squares. Any player forgetting this rule loses their squares, and other players then compete for them. If the court becomes impossible to play, other players may request a "safe" area in one corner of a chosen square. Only the owner may use the whole square.

Step 4: Once all squares are owned, the pig's head is divided in quarters and players compete for the sections.

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTING WRITERS:

The following activities were designed by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner Halls.

Hopscotch

Hopping Games

Gat Fei Gei