Hopscotch is a simple children's game which can be played with several players or alone. Hopscotch is often played in playgrounds by children.

Court and rules

Hopscotch Courts, c. 1900.
English (simple)

The court (or course)

To play hopscotch, a course is first laid out. Traditionally, children drew the course in the dirt of a playground whenever needed, although it was often chalked on pavement when dirt was unavailable. Designs vary, but the course is usually composed of a series of linear squares interspersed with blocks of two lateral squares. Traditionally the course ends with a "safe" or "home" base in which the player may turn before completing the reverse trip. The home base may be a square, a rectangle, or a semi-circle. The squares are then numbered in the sequence in which they are to be hopped.

Playing the game

The first player tosses the marker (typically a stone, coin or bean bag) into the first square. The marker must land completely within the designated square and without touching a line or bouncing out. The player then hops through the course, skipping the square with the marker in it. Single squares must be hopped on one foot. For the first single square, either foot may be used. Side by side squares are straddled, with the left foot landing in the left square, and the right foot landing in the right square. Optional squares marked "Safe", "Home", or "Rest" are neutral squares, and may be hopped through in any manner without penalty.

Upon successfully completing the sequence, the player continues the turn by tossing the marker into square number two, and repeating the pattern.

If while hopping through the court in either direction the player steps on a line, misses a square, or loses balance, the turn ends. Players begin their turns where they last left off. The first player to complete one course for every numbered square on the court wins the game.

Although the marker is most often picked up during the game, historically, in the boy's game, the marker was kicked sequentially back through the course on the return trip and then kicked out.


Hopscotch originated in Britain during the early Roman Empire. It was initially designed as a training regimen for Roman foot soldiers who ran the course in full armor and field packs, as it was thought this would improve their footwork.


The word "hopscotch" is a compound of "hop" (short jump) and "scotch" (scratched line). Called "scotch-hoppers", the term dates back at least to 1677.

In Czech (and probably in other Slavonic languages), both "hop" and "scotch" are rather childish expressions for "make a jump". The "hop" is injection referenced to jumping, the "scotch" (correctly "skoč") is 2. person sing. of imperative, i.e. "jump!" But the game itself is called panák in Czech.


There are many other forms of hopscotch played across the globe. In Russia and Russian--speaking countries it is known as классики (diminutive for the word meaning classrooms). In Poland, it is called 'klasy', meaning ''classes'. 'In Malaysia the most popular variant is called tengteng.


A French variant of hopscotch is known as Escargot (snail) or "La Marelle Ronde" (round hopscotch). It is played on a spiral course. Players must hop on one foot to the center of the spiral and back out again. A player marks one square with his or her initials, and from then on may place two feet in that square, while all other players must hop over it. The game ends when all squares are marked or no one can reach the center, and the winner is the player who "owns" the most squares.


In India, hopscotch is also called chikki-billa, chikki meaning the chalk borders and billa meaning the marker. It has similar principles in that players must hop on one foot and must throw the marker in the right square.


Hopscotch is/was called Potsy in New York City.


  • http://www.streetplay.com/thegames/hopscotch.htm


  • Beard, D.C. The Outdoor Handy Book: For the Playground, Field, and Forest. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1907).
  • Skeat, Walter W. Notes on English Etymology: Chiefly Reprinted from the Transactions of the Philological Society. Oxford: The Clarendon Press (1901).

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