Think about the movements required in a typical game of hopscotch: Players throw a marker… stand… hop… stop… bend… pick up… straighten up… leap… jump… hop… hop…land… turn… and repeat and do most of that all on one foot! Hopscotch, a game that children have played for years and years, is a game that is as challenging as it is fun!
- Hopping on one foot, a homo-lateral movement, requires significant demands physically and mentally. To play hopscotch, children need to be able to move one side of their body while keeping the other side still; to balance on one foot; to balance while bending over and coming back up; and to determine their correct hopping pathway in other words to problem-solve.
- Hopscotch has rules just like any other game, but the real benefit of the rules of hopscotch is how they help children develop control over bodies. Landing on a line is a no-no…it’s just the way it is and part of the reason hopscotch is so fun—it challenges a kidlet to be able to make their bodies move in space and then stop on demand.
- Hopscotch has inherent rhythms to it: For example, the alternating of players or the start-stop-start of each player until the game’s over. Children playing hopscotch have lots of practice hopping, where their own rhythm will get defined–do they tend to hop quickly or slowly, with even time intervals or a syncopated beat? The game of hopscotch becomes a flow or rhythm of its own making that helps children internalize rhythm and this has important consequences.
- Hopscotch gives kidlets the chance to move large muscle groups. After hopping comes leaping—if lucky, you only have to leap over one square, but sometimes it’s two—or more!! And that requires lot of courage and strength.
- One of the more challenging aspects of hopscotch is the balance required. It’s one thing to toss your marker and then hop into and out of squares, but to balance on one foot and bend over to pick up your marker and then straighten back up to continue hopping back now THAT’S quite another feat! Being able to move successfully in space as you’d like requires an understanding of where your body IS in space(spatial awareness and the sense of proprioception) plus a keen sense of balance.
- Hopscotch begins by tossing your marker—whether the marker is a pebble or bean bag—it requires a certain amount of eye-hand coordination. This challenge is ramped up as the game progresses since the target—the square—gets further away making the task of coordinating the propulsion with the aim more difficult.
- Hopscotch requires a lot physically from a player in terms of gross motor skills—hopping and jumping, but fine motor skills are also called on. Every time a child tosses their marker and successfully makes it up the course, they then have to turn around and come back down…stopping –often on one foot—to pick up their marker before continuing on. That takes body control and a ton of concentration! Picking up their marker also develops muscles of the hands and fingers—how disappointing it’d be to correctly hop in and out of squares, start to pick up the marker, but then drop it and lose your turn!?
- Hopscotch is a game that children have to adapt to with every turn. Markers render squares off limits to jump into and they must adjust accordingly. Coming to the start, they must figure how they’re going to toss their marker; how they’re going to progress through the course—one foot or two on a square; they need to remember to jump over squares with markers on them; they need to remember to pick up their marker—is it available to then be jump into or not?—and then continue back to the start. That’s a lot to keep straight and manage!
- Hopscotch can be played alone, but it’s more fun and challenging when there are others playing too–plus it gives them the opportunity to work on social skills. Hopscotch is an easy game for kidlets to play together—the rules are simple; the time between turns isn’t long; and though there is technically one winner—the game can continue until everyone has made it through the course. The first player up and back successfully is the winner of course and yes, everyone likes the feeling of winning, but persevering to finish builds character and is important too. Playing hopscotch helps to children to develop emotionally.
Yours in Play!