7 Ways to Play Hopscotch Indoors or Outdoors

Little boys playing in hopscotch schoolyard

Just about everyone has heard of the classic game hopscotch. Keep this timeless activity fresh and fun with a few interesting takes on the original version. Who knew there were so many ways to play this popular game?

The History of Hopscotch

Hopscotch has been around for hundreds of years (or perhaps many more), with the first recording of the game occurring way back in 1677. This means hopscotch is one of the oldest playground games to exist. The history of how hopscotch came to be is a bit of a mystery, as there are several theories on how the playground favorite got its start. Some theorists believe that the ancient Romans first came up with the game as a means to better train their fierce army. Others point to the Chinese, saying it was them we should thank for this fun game.

Basic Rules of Classic Hopscotch

Regardless of what variation you are playing, the rules for hopscotch remain fairly similar.

  1. Before playing hopscotch, you need to set up the court. This can be done in a variety of fun and interesting ways, but traditionally the court looks as such:
    • Square one is drawn, and number one is written in the space.
    • Attached to square one are squares two and three. These squares sit side-by-side.
    • Square four sits atop two and three.
    • Squares five and six connect to square four and are again drawn side-by-side.
    • Square seven is drawn atop five and six.
    • Squares eight and nine are drawn atop square seven.
    • Square ten finally sits atop eight and nine.
  1. A player tosses a small rock or coin into the first circle or square on the hopscotch court. The object, also called a marker, must land fully in the first space for the player to proceed.
  2. The player then hops through the circles or squares without touching the lines or stepping into the space where the object is.
  3. Once the player hops (on one foot if a circle or square stands alone, or on both feet, if there are two circles or squares side by side) all the way to the tenth space, they then turn around and repeat the hopping back process to the start.
  4. On the return trip, the player must stop before the square with the object in it, bend down, retrieve the object without stepping in the object's square, then continue on to the start, never losing their balance.
  5. The next player repeats the process, but they must toss the object into the second square.
  6. The third person again repeats the process but will toss the object into the third square.
  7. A player loses their turn if they:
    • throw the object in the wrong square
    • step on a line
    • lose their balance and put a second foot down in a single circle or square, or bend down to regain balance with their hand
    • miss hopping in a square
  8. If a player loses their turn, they must repeat the square they were previously in on their NEXT turn. For example, if a player tosses an object into square three but steps on a line during their hopping sequence, then on their next turn, they must throw the object in square three again and try to complete the hopping sequence in full. Only then do they get to move to the fourth square on their next try.

Keeping Score in Hopscotch

There is no "point-scoring" in hopscotch, but a winner does get determined. The person who can toss the object in all ten boxes or circles and hop through the sequence is the game's winner. If you are playing with many people, it can get intense, as most players will find a way to lose their turn at some point. The game becomes a challenge of balance and accuracy, as the person who essentially makes the least amount of tossing and hopping mistakes is crowned the game's winner, since they will complete getting through all ten boxes the fastest.

How to Play Hopscotch Indoors

Toddler girl having fun playing hopscotch at home

Hopscotch is known as a playground or street game, but if you have the indoor space, you can take the game right on inside and get the kids plenty of activity when they cannot make it outdoors.

Trade Chalk in for Tape

One way to play the game inside is to forgo the chalk traditionally used to draw the court on concrete. Instead, make the squares with painter's tape or masking tape. Hallways make great spaces for a game of hopscotch, and most brands of painter's tape will even stick to carpet if your home does not include large areas of hard-surfaced floors.

Create an Eclectic Court With Everyday Objects

If you don't have tape lying around, gather materials to make an out-of-the-ordinary hopscotch court in your home. Bring a few hula-hoops indoors, use a swatch or two of felt or fabric, and find string or yarn that can be tied at the ends and manipulated into circles, triangles, or squares, to make a wild-looking hopscotch court. You can use any shapes and assemble the boxes any way you'd like, as long as you can get from one side to the other, and as long as there are at least ten total spaces to jump in and out of.

Buy a Mat Made for Hopscotch

If you have your credit card on hand, you can head to online shopping sites like Amazon and buy a hopscotch rug or a hopscotch mat to use indoors. There are tons of designs, one of which is sure to fit your home's space as well as your budget.

Bubble Wrap Hopscotch

Kids LOVE bubble wrap. If you have a ton of it lying around, serving no great purpose, then cut rectangles and squares out of it and use these for the hopscotch court. Using a black Sharpie marker, write numbers one-10 on each cut piece of bubble wrap. Arrange the squares of bubble wrap in a court shape and play while popping!

Creative Ways to Play Hopscotch Outside

Girl playing hopscotch in the playground

You tell the kids to go out and play over and over, but their response always seems to be, "It's boring outside," or "There is nothing to do outside!" These creative ways to play hopscotch might change their minds about playing outdoors.

Shrink-the-Square-Scotch

If your older kids feel like traditional hopscotch is far too simple for them, shrink the court! After they complete a game on a typical sized court, make a second one with squares half the size of the first court. If they get through THAT, reduce the size of the court one more time. How small of a court can they get through an entire game on?

Double Throw Scotch

Why not throw a second marker in for added difficulty? While hopscotch is usually played with one object that gets thrown from square to square, you can toss a second one in for fun. This will make it a lot more difficult for kids to get through, as each turn they receive will require them to throw TWO objects into a square (different squares, never the same one), and on the trip back to start, they will have to bend and retrieve both markers without losing their balance.

Sprinkler Hopscotch

If you have a backyard space with a lawn, try making a hopscotch court on the grass using spray paint. Spray paint the boxes (don't worry about the permanence, a bit of growing, and a couple of lawn mows will erase the court in a matter of weeks) on the grass. Find something to use as a marker to toss (you might need something a bit larger than what you would use on pavement or hardwood floors, as the grass is longer). Turn on the sprinklers and play hopscotch while getting soaked! What a fun way to spend a hot summer day.

Spins on the Classic

Father & daughters playing hopscotch

These spins on the classic way of playing hopscotch will freshen up the game and keep kids interested in playing it over and over again. All of these versions can be played inside or outdoors.

Race the Clock Hopscotch

Race the Clock Hopscotch uses the traditional setup and rules, but adds the twist of time to play. Decide on a time to get through the hopscotch court. Depending on kids' ability to quickly move about the court, you can make the time whatever is challenging, but actually doable. (Do a couple of trial runs to see how long it takes players on average to get to box ten and back to start again). Every time a player takes a turn, the stopwatch is started with the time decided on. The player has to complete their turn before the time on the stopwatch runs out.

Category Hopscotch

Instead of putting a number in each box, you write in the name of an interesting category. Category ideas for older kids might be:

  • Ice cream toppings
  • States with the letter "O" in the name
  • Words that rhyme with "time"
  • Things found in outer space
  • Presidents

Categories for younger children might be:

When a player retrieves a marker from a square, they have to name something that would belong to that category. Younger kids might not have a time limit as they think of category items, but would lose their turn if they could not think of something at all. Older kids might only get five seconds to think of an item before relinquishing their turn. No players can repeat an item already called.

Sight Word Hop Scotch

Make learning sight words fun with a game of hopscotch. In each box on the hopscotch court, write a sight word that your children are working on recalling. When they land on a sight word, they have to call it out or lose that turn. Play this every couple of days, or once a week, and use a different set of ten sight words each time you play. What a useful and unique way to learn how to master words.

Math-Based Hopscotch

Just like sight words, you can play hopscotch while working on mathematical concepts. Here are a few ideas for incorporating math into play:

  • Use hopscotch to work on multiples or factors. For example:
    • Playing with multiples. Call out the number four. Kids would have to say: 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40... as they hopped in and out of the squares. Do not proceed through the court if the next multiple cannot be recalled.
    • Playing with factors. Call out the number 20. Kids could say "ten" when they get to the 10th square and then would say "two" when they got to the square with the marker. They can use any factor pairs of the number called, as long as the two numbers they recall can be multiplied to get the called number.
  • Playing with addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Give kids a math problem. They play the traditional way, but when they land on the square with the marker, they have to answer the given problem or lose the turn.

Hopscotch Around the World

Hopscotch is a popular street game all over the world. Different pockets of people have their own interesting spins on the common game. While it looks different in other parts of the world, everyone seems to agree, it is a great way to spend time with friends.

Australian Hopscotch

Hopscotch in Australia is played in three stages, with each stage getting progressively more difficult. The first stage is played by traditional rules. The second stage, known as "jumps," challenges players to jump in and out of squares with both feet. The third stage is called "peevers." Again, both feet are needed to complete the jumps, but they must be crossed in this round.

French Hopscotch

French hopscotch is called Escargot. The court winds around itself and resembles a snail shell. It is much harder to hop through this court because of the circling pattern.

Persian Hopscotch

The version of hopscotch that Persian kids in Iran play is called Laylay. This version uses an even number of squares placed side-by-side.

Enjoy the Versatile Game of Hopscotch

The great thing about this simple, classic playground game is it can be revamped and spruced up to be made into something entirely new every time you play it. The game itself addresses gross motor skills, and with creativity, parents can work in academic skills as well. Hopscotch is a tried and true game that kids have played for hundreds of years, and it belongs in every family's game rotation.

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7 Ways to Play Hopscotch Indoors or Outdoors