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The game of hopscotch

Typical hopscotch court
Typical hopscotch court
Michelle Melnik

Hopscotch has been around since the 1600's and is still popular today.  The game has evolved some since then with the addition of many store bought hopscotch games including the Dora the Explorer Foam Hopscotch and the Melissa & Doug Butterfly Hopscotch.  Both of which would be ideal for use indoors when it is cold and snowy in Boston.  When it's nice outside though, hopscotch can be enjoyed by children and adults without costing a penny. 

You can use masking tape or sidewalk chalk to make the "court".  Designs vary, but typically you will see three large squares with the number 1 in the first square, the number 2 in the second square, and the number 3 in the 3rd square.  You will then see two large squares side by side with the number 4 in one square and the number 5 in the other square.  The number 6 is next, then 7 and 8 are in side-by-side squares.  The number 9 is in a square all its own, and the number 10 may be in a dome shape, which is sometimes referred to as the rest area or home.  To view a modern day hopscotch "court", please see the diagram at Wikipedia.

Each player is given a marker, which can be a stone, acorn, or beanbag, that they toss into square one.  The marker must remain within the square without touching the lines.  If the marker touches the line, the player must forfeit their turn.  If the toss is successful, the player hops on one foot, except where there are squares side-by-side.  When they get to the end or the rest area, they turn around and hop back picking up their marker on their way back.  The game continues by tossing the marker into square two and hopping in the same sequence as above.

Even though many preschoolers don't yet have the coordination to play hopscotch as described above, they can still have fun hopping, skipping, or even running on the hopscotch court.  You can have them practice tossing their markers into certain squares.  You can call out a number, and have them run to that square.  Preschoolers will have fun and will learn about taking turns, number recognition, counting from 1-10 and counting backwards from 10-1.  When playing hopscotch with preschoolers, be creative and focus less on the actual rules and more on the fun.

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