Your childhood won’t be complete if you haven’t experienced playing one of the most popular playground games. Of course, we’re talking about hopscotch, a game that entails tossing a small object into a pattern of triangles or rectangles outlined on the ground. Players then hop, jump, skip through the spaces and retrieve the item without touching the boundaries of the shapes. It’s a pretty challenging game as variations about the rules abound. It seems every country has its version of hopscotch. The game’s called Laylay, Paandi, Potsy, Kunte Belle, and Piko in various languages and countries, but the object of the game remains similar. Experts agree that it is a cognitive and physical workout and helps people keep their faculties sharp.
But have you ever wondered how hopscotch came to be? In this article, we’ll look into its origins and how it’s become quite popular worldwide.
Who invented hopscotch?
Many historians point out the Romans as the inventor of hopscotch 3000 years ago, although it didn’t start as a game. Although there isn’t any concrete or conclusive evidence about the Roman version of hopscotch, historians believe that the game was extensively used as a drill to keep Roman soldiers in shape. According to historians, the Roman version used courts spanning over 100 feet, and the soldiers had to run through the course in their full armor and/or while carrying heavy weights. The Romans wanted to improve their soldiers’ footwork and fitness, and they found this game quite effective.
It was also said that Roman children appropriated the drill as a game. The children played it on a smaller court and added a scoring system. The Romans brought the game to Britain when they invaded the territory, gradually gaining popularity.
However, some historians say that the prehistoric Indians from the Painted Grey ware era of 1200 to 600-500 BC were the originators of the game. Other historians also say that they have found evidence of the game in ancient China, Greece, and Egypt dating as far back as 4000 years ago.
The first mention of the game in the English-speaking world dates back to the 17th century when the game was called Scotch-hop or scotch hoppers. The game’s description appeared in Poor Robin’s Almanack series for 1677. The word scotch referred to the lines drawn on the ground to establish the court.
The game spread to different parts of the globe as several variations are found in North, Central, South America, Asia, and Europe. The game’s objective is the same, but the rules and the playing courts vary.
Hopscotch’s key contributors (and evolution)
- Ancient Egyptians, ChineseAncient Egyptians and Chinese played hopscotch
According to historians, they found evidence that Ancient Egyptians and Chinese played their version of hopscotch. Although there aren’t many extant shreds of evidence, some historians believe the game originated from them 4000 years ago.
- RomansRomans used hopscotch to train soldiers in footwork and fitness
Ancient Romans used their version of the game as a military drill to improve their soldiers’ footwork and physical fitness. Roman soldiers had to navigate the more than a 100-meter course in full armor and/or carrying heavy weights. Roman children appropriated the game in smaller courts and incorporated a scoring system.
- Britons, EnglishmenBritons played version of Hopscotch, Scotch-hop in 17<sup>th</sup> century
The Romans brought the game when they went westward and conquered territories during their expansion. The Britons played a version of the game and called it Scotch-hop. The game’s description appeared in Poor Robin’s Almanack for 1677 under Scotch-hoppers.
- Indians and AsiansIndians and Asians played different variations of the game
Indians and Asians played variations of the game. The Indians called the game Kith-Kith, South Asians called it Chindro, Vietnamese dubbed it Pico, and Filipinos know it as Piko. There are variations in the rules, but the object of the game is the same.
- Germans, Swiss and AustriansGermans, Swiss and Austrians created their version known as Himmel and Holle
The term Himmel and Holle translates to Heaven and Hell, which is the version the Germans, Swiss, and Austrians played. The space below the first square is ‘earth,’ the second to the last square in the playing court is Hell, and the last square is Heaven.
When was hopscotch invented?
Historians still couldn’t definitively agree as to when hopscotch was first invented. However, some evidence shows that a version of the game was played in Ancient Egypt, Greece, and China. The data dates back 4000 years, and although it may seem inconclusive, historians still couldn’t discount the possibility.
Other historians point to the Romans as the inventor of hopscotch, although it wasn’t a game for them. They used hopscotch as a military drill for their soldiers. They had courses over 100-meters long, and the soldiers had to navigate them in full armor or carrying heavy weights. The course improved their footwork and physical fitness. Historians believe that Roman children appropriated hopscotch and played it in smaller courts and incorporated a scoring system.
The first documented evidence of the game came in the 17th century in Britain when Poor Robin’s Almanack mentioned it in 1677 under the name Scotch-hoppers. The term scotch referred to the lines etched into the ground. The object of the game was the same, but through the years, variations in the rules emerged in different versions and countries.
A brief history of hopscotch
Most historians point to the Romans as the inventors of hopscotch dating back as early as 3000 years ago. However, it didn’t start as a game but as a military drill. Roman soldiers had to navigate more than 100-meters of the laid-out course in full armor or either carrying heavy weights to improve their physical fitness and footwork. Roman children were said to have appropriated the game in smaller courts and used a scoring system to make things interesting.
The Romans brought the game westward during their expansion, and the Britons appropriated the game successfully. They played a version of the game called scotch-hoppers. The first documented description of the game came out in Poor Robin’s Almanack in 1677.
Other historians point to evidence from Ancient Greece, Egypt, and China in their argument regarding the game’s origins. The evidence dates back to 4000 years. There is other evidence stating that the prehistoric Indians from the South Asian region came up with the game. There’s evidence during the Painted Grey ware era 1200 to 600-500 BC regarding the game of hopscotch.
Although there is no definitive origin for the game, hopscotch has gained worldwide popularity as a playground children’s game. Several game variations are present in North, South, and Central America. There are also several versions of the game in Europe and Asia. Australians also have their version, which differs from traditional hopscotch gameplay. The French have their hopscotch version called escargot, where they play the game in a snail-like playing court.
The hopscotch timeline
- 4,000 years agoAncient Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese played hopscotch
Although there isn’t much evidence regarding the game of hopscotch, historians point to the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese as among the possible inventors of the game.
- 3,000 years agoRomans used hopscotch as military drill
Romans used a version of hopscotch to improve their soldiers’ physical fitness and footwork. The soldiers had to navigate a laid-out course more than 100-meters long in full armor or carrying heavy weights. Roman children appropriated the game in smaller courts and incorporated a scoring system that made the game interesting.
- 1677First documented description of hopscotch
Poor Robin’s Almanack series for 1677 described the game and called it Scotch-hopper. This is the first documented mention of the game in the English-speaking world.
- 18<sup>th</sup> century onwardsHopscotch grew in popularity worldwide
Hopscotch grew in popularity worldwide. Several countries have their versions of the game. The object of the game is still the same, but the variations come from the rules and the playing courts.
Where was hopscotch invented?
Historians still couldn’t concretely state where hopscotch was invented. However, there’s evidence dating to 4,000 years ago regarding the game being played in Ancient China, Greece, and Egypt. There’s also evidence that the prehistoric Indians of the South Asian region from the Painted Grey ware era 1,200 to 600-500 BC had a game similar to hopscotch.
Most historians, though, believe that the Romans invented hopscotch, although it wasn’t a game for them. Instead, it was a military drill to improve their soldiers’ physical fitness and footwork. They had to run and navigate through a laid-out, more than 100-meter course wearing full armor or carrying heavy weights. Historians also state that Roman children appropriated the game in smaller courts and incorporated a scoring system that made the game more interesting.
The importance of hopscotch
- Improved physical fitness
Hopscotch improved the physical fitness of the players participating in it because it incorporated various locomotor activities such as jumping, skipping, and throwing.
- Improved cognitive function
Hopscotch also improved cognitive function as it is a game of strategy and technique. Players must strategize their next moves effectively as they navigate the play area.
- Hopscotch helped bring children together
Hopscotch brought children together in the playground. They played the game and made connections with other children from the neighborhood. It was and is still considered a highly social game.
- Hopscotch spurred innovations
Several companies came up with innovations regarding the game. For example, contractors can use preformed hopscotch blocks to lay out a hopscotch playground in schools, parks, and other open spaces.
Hopscotch by the numbers
- 1677This is the year when Poor Robin’s Almanack described the game for the English-speaking world.
- 1 & 1.97 1 minute and 1.97 seconds represent the fastest game of hopscotch played in the world. Ashrita Furman set the record in New York on November 9, 2010.
- 10There are ten squares in a traditional hopscotch game. However, you can add more squares depending on the number of players.
- 20,144 & 9.47 The length of the longest hopscotch game was 20,144 ft & 9.47 inches. The game was created by Brand Teenmix of Belle International from Guangzhou in May 2016. The record still stands to this day.
Five facts about hopscotch
- The marker tossed in the game is called a lagger.
The small object tossed to mark your spot and progress in the game is called a lagger. Other terms related to this include piggy or lucky bean.
- The lagger could be any small object.
The lagger or lucky bean could be any object players find acceptable for the game. For example, some children use a bean bag, a small rock, a coin, or a charm.
- Hopscotch has several variations.
There are several variations of hopscotch worldwide. The rules and the playing courts differ, but the object of the game remains the same.
- Scotch doesn’t refer to the Scots
Scotch refers to lines incised or drawn on the ground to mark the playing court boundaries. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Scots of Scotland.
- Hopscotch courts vary.
Hopscotch playing courts vary, but the traditional game has ten squares.
FAQs about hopscotch
- What do you all the markers in hopscotch?
The small object that players toss to mark their progress is called a lagger.
- What can you use to draw hopscotch courts?
Usually, chalk is used to mark the hopscotch court. Paint and crayons are also used, and there are prefabricated blocks that contractors use in laying out courts in playgrounds.
- How many people are required to play hopscotch?
One or more people can play hopscotch. Obviously, the more people playing, the longer the game goes.
- Does hopscotch have variations?
Yes. Different countries have hopscotch variations. The game’s name may be different, as well as the rules and the playing court, but the game’s object is the same.
- What does hopscotch develop?
Hopscotch develops eye-hand coordination, locomotor skills, and balance.