Playground classics

CHINESE JUMP ROPE

Chinese jump rope is a great game you can play by yourself or with friends. The only thing you need is a long jump rope — your parents or grandparents can help — and maybe two chairs if you're playing alone. Knot both ends of the jump rope together, and you're ready to play! The first step is still pretty easy, because the rope is only around your ankles. The second step is to move it up to the backs of the knees, and this is where is starts getting more challenging. The next step is under your bottom, and after that you wrap it around your waist, and you're really going to work when you get to that point! Players can jump as long as possible until they step on the rope, get caught, skip a jump or jump in the wrong sequence. If the person who jumped made a mistake, it's the next person's turn. And now to the individual jumps:

1st jump

2nd jump

3rd jump

4th jump

Jump high! The rope's going to snap!

5th jump

Watch out — jump back!

6th jump

This time you have to do one full spin.

Killer Chinese jump rope

This is an option for advanced players. When you spin, you can't lose the jump rope or get your feet caught on it when you jump out.

HOPSCOTCH

There are many ways to play this game. First you have to draw a ten-field grid (see picture) on the sidewalk or on a flat space in the schoolyard with chalk or a soft stone. Then draw lots to decide who goes first.
The first player tosses a small stone onto home (the first square) and hops from the starting line landing on home with both feet on the ground. The stone then has to be kicked into square 2, moving the player a step further towards the pot (square #10). Careful, though! The stone has to be kicked from square 7 directly into the pot without it stopping in between. And the player has to hop from square 7 directly into the pot without touching the 8th and 9th squares. Once at the pot, the player has to turn around and follow the same sequence on the way back home. If the first player tosses the stone into the wrong box, misses a box or lands in squares 8 or 9, the next player gets to go. The first player’s stone stays where it was, and when the next round begins, that person begins again from where they slipped up.

PLAYING MARBLES

There are many different marble-shooting techniques. See what works best for you. Many kids just hold the marble loosely between their thumb and forefinger and fling it towards the target using their wrist. You could also hold the marble between your forefinger and middle finger and flick it forwards. Or you could put the marble on the ground and push it with your forefinger so it rolls forwards.

Before you get started...

…you first have to find the right spot for your game. The best surface would be flat, smooth sandy ground, but you can play on the sidewalk as well. If you’re playing on sand, all you have to do to make a target is to dig out a hole about as wide as your hand. If you’re playing on the sidewalk, you’ll have to draw the target with chalk or a soft stone. Then draw a base line with a stick or a stone. You can even play marbles indoors on the carpet if the weather’s not so great and make the target and other markings with yarn. Now you're ready to start playing!

Putting

Each player shoots 3 or more marbles (you have to decide beforehand) towards the target. The player who gets the most marbles into or nearest the target gets to go again and tries to putt the marbles on the ground into the target. If he misses the next player gets to go. Whoever shoots the last marble into the target is the winner.

Thwack!

This is a game for two players. You don’t need a target to play it. One of the players throws their marble from the starting line as far as they want to. The second player tries to get their marble to hit the first player’s marble. If they manage to hit it, then they get to keep both marbles as well as getting the first throw in the next round. If they miss, the first player gets back their marble and tries to hit the other player’s marble – the one that’s still lying on the ground – from the starting line. You can decide before starting the game how many hits are needed to win the game.

Blind marbles

Each player puts their marbles in a small ring drawn on the ground. The first player stands above the ring with their eyes closed and lets a marble fall from eye-level height. If a player manages to knock a marble out of the ring with the marble they’ve dropped, then they can keep the knocked-out marble. If a player misses, then the marble they’ve dropped remains in the ring. The game is over when the last marble has been knocked out of the circle.