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Primary schoolchildren playing hopscotch in Cuba, where the game is known as pon
Primary schoolchildren playing hopscotch in Cuba, where the game is known as pon
Moves in a Hungarian hopscotch (the black dot being the stone, cast and retrieved)
Moves in a Hungarian hopscotch (the black dot being the stone, cast and retrieved)

Hopscotch is a popular playground game in which players toss a small object, called a lagger,[1][2] into numbered triangles or a pattern of rectangles outlined on the ground and then hop or jump through the spaces and retrieve the object.[3] It is a children's game that can be played with several players or alone. Hopscotch is a physical and cognitive workout.[4][5][6]

Court and rules

Marelle (French) schoolyard court
Marelle (French)
schoolyard court
Hopscotch courts, c. 1900 [7]
English (simple)

The court

To play hopscotch, a court is first laid out on the ground. Depending on the available surface, the court is either scratched out in the dirt or drawn with chalk on pavement. Courts may be permanently marked where playgrounds are commonly paved, as in elementary schools. Designs vary, but the court is usually composed of a series of linear squares interspersed with blocks of two lateral squares. Traditionally the court 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 semicircle. The squares are then numbered in the sequence in which they are to be hopped.

Playing the game

The first player tosses a marker, also called a "lucky bean", onto the court.[8][9] The marker (typically a small stone, coin, bean bag, or small chain with a charm) should land in the square without bouncing, sliding, or rolling out. (In Scotland and Ireland, the marker is usually replaced with an old shoe polish tin or flat stone, called a piggy.[citation needed]) In the United States the marker was called a “lagger” and in the 1940s Hopscotch Laggers made of rubber were sold by the Hoppy Taw Company of Utah.[10] The marker must be thrown in sequential numerical order completely within the square without touching the line.[11] The player then hops through the course, skipping the marker's square. Single squares must be hopped on one foot, except for the first single square, where 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. After hopping into "Safe", "Home", or "Rest", the player must then turn around and retrace their steps through the course on one or two legs, depending on the square, until reaching the marker's square. The player stops in the square before the marker[12][13][14] and reaches down to retrieve the marker and continue the course as stated, without touching a line or stepping into a square with another player's marker.

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.[15]


A hopscotch game with a traditional magpie rhyme in Morecambe, England
A hopscotch game with a traditional magpie rhyme in Morecambe, England

Hopscotch is attested c.1200 to 600–500 BCE from the Painted Grey ware era of prehistoric India,[16] it is also listed among the games prohibited by Buddha. It is attested that an ancient form of hopscotch was played by Roman children and soldiers,[17][18][19] but the first recorded references to the game in the English-speaking world date to the late seventeenth century, usually under the name "scotch-hop" or "scotch-hopper(s)".[20] A manuscript Book of Games compiled between 1635 and 1672 by Francis Willughby refers to 'Scotch Hopper‥. They play with a piece of tile or a little flat piece of lead, upon a boarded floor, or any area divided into oblong figures like boards'.[21] In Poor Robin's Almanack for 1677, the game is referred to as "Scotch-hoppers". The entry states, "The time when schoolboys should play at Scotch-hoppers." The 1707 edition of Poor Robin's Almanack includes the following phrase… "Lawyers and Physicians have little to do this month, so they may (if they will) play at Scotch-hoppers."[22] In 1828, Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language also referred to the game as 'Scotch-hopper' ... 'a play in which boys hop over scotches and lines in the ground.'[23]


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the etymology of hopscotch is a formation from the words "hop" and "scotch", the latter in the sense of "an incised line or scratch".[24] The journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 26 (dated March 9, 1870) states: "The sport of Hop-Scotch or Scotch-Hoppers is called in Yorkshire 'Hop-Score', and in Suffolk 'Scotch Hobbies or Hobby', from the boy who gets on the player's back whilst hopping or 'hicking', as it is there termed; and in Scotland it is known as 'Peevers, Peeverels, and Pabats'".

Czechs can feel the word as a Bohemism because skoč [skot͡ʃ] is a Czech imperative of skočit = "jump", and "hop" is commonly used as an interjection of jumping.


A variation in the entrance of CEFET-MG, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
A variation in the entrance of CEFET-MG, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

There are many other forms of hopscotch played across the globe.[25] In India it is called Stapu or Kit Kit in Hindi, Nondi/Paandi (Tamil), Thokkudu billa (Telugu) or Kith-Kith, in Spain and some Latin American countries, it is called rayuela, although it may also be known as golosa or charranca. In France marelle is the name for the game. In Turkey, it is Seksek (from sek, "to hop"). In Russian it is known as классики (klássiki, diminutive for the word meaning "classes"). In Bulgaria, the game is referred to as дама (dama) which means "lady". In Poland, it appears in two forms: klasy ("classes") which has a rectangular shape and no marker, instead, players call out names of various items of a given class, e.g. colours or flowers, while jumping on successive fields; and pajac ("buffoon") which has a human shape and uses a thrown marker, e.g. a piece of glass or stone. In Sweden the game is named hoppa hage (lit. "jumping the garden"), while in Norway it is called paradis, or Paradise. In Italy the game is known as campana (meaning "bell"), or mondo ("world"). In the Netherlands and Flanders, it is called Hinkelen ("skip"). In Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia it is called školica, meaning "little school". In Malaysia, the most popular variant is called tengteng. In Mexico, it is called bebeleche (mamaleche) meaning "drink milk" or avioncito meaning "little plane", after its shape. In Cuba and in Puerto Rico it is called "La Peregrina" (meaning "Pilgrim Girl") and the squares represent the 9 rings the pilgrim traveler has to pass in order to reach Heaven from Purgatory according to Dante's Inferno. In Romania the game is called șotron and is widely played by children all over the country. In Denmark it is called hinke. In Brazil it is called amarelinha, evolved from marelle, the French name for the game that became too closely associated with the radical amarelo (yellow) and its diminutive in -inho/a. In Breton, the name is reg or delech. The Albanian variant is called rrasavi, which is composed of two words: rrasa ("the flat stone", an object used to play the game) and vi ("line", a reference to the lines that comprise the diagram of the course). In China, hopscotch is called tiao fangzi (跳房子, meaning "jumping the houses"). In the Philippines, hopscotch is called piko in Tagalog and sometimes also called kiki or Bikabix in Visayas/Cebuano. Its common court in the Philippines has six squares. In India, hopscotch is called "thikrya", because broken stones called thikrya are slid across the grid as players hop to each square. In South Korea, hopscotch is called sabangchigi (사방치기, meaning "Hitting the Four Cardinal Directions") and is widely played across the nation. In Ghana, hopscotch is called "tumatu" and is mostly played by children.[26] In Zimbabwe, the game is called pada and its mostly played by girls. In America the game is referred to as Hop Scotch and is played with a marker. It is found on elementary school playgrounds and is an activity most often played by girls.

Persian: Laylay (or Khane bazi)

Street mosaic in the shape of hopscotch game in Boston, USA
Street mosaic in the shape of hopscotch game in Boston, USA

The hopscotch game's generic name in Persian is Laylay. The most common form of Laylay in Iran resembles the older Western types and uses six or more (always an even number) side-by-side squares successively (vertically) numbered. The player uses a peg or a flat stone that the player must kick to the next square as the player is hopping. If either the stone or a player's foot lands on a line, the player forfeits the game (or loses a turn). Although somewhat less common, the contemporary Western type also is played.

Glasgow: Peevers or Peever

In the Glasgow area, the hopscotch game is called "beds" or "Peever(s)". "Peever" is also the name of the object which is slid across the grid to land in a square. In the 1950s and 1960s in Glasgow, it was common for the peever to be a shoe polish tin filled with stones or dirt and screwed shut.[27][28]

Edinburgh children also call the game Peevers, played on a Peever bed with a chalked grid and a small flat tin - like a puck, where the chalk is stored during the game with the ballast.

French: Marelle, Escargot

"Marelle" is the name of the traditional hopscotch game in France, but a variant there is known as escargot (snail) or marelle ronde (round hopscotch).[29] The variant is played on a spiral course. Players must hop on one foot to the center of the spiral and then reverse their path to back out again.

If the player reaches the center without stepping on a line or losing balance he or she 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.[30]

German: Himmel und Hölle

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland the hopscotch game is called Himmel und Hölle (Heaven and Hell) although some other names are used, as well, depending on the region. The square below 1 or the 1 itself, is called Erde (Earth) while the second to last square is the Hölle (Hell) and the last one is Himmel (Heaven). The first player throws a small stone into the first square and then jumps to the square and must kick the stone to the next square and so on, however, neither the stone nor the player may stop in Hell so they try to skip that square.

India: Kith-Kith

Girls playing hopscotch, Jaora, Madhya Pradesh, India
Girls playing hopscotch, Jaora, Madhya Pradesh, India

In India, hopscotch is also called Kith-Kith, Stapu, Langdi in the Hindi-speaking areas, or Ekhaat Duhaat or Ekka Dukka in Bengal, Tipri Pani in Maharashtra, Kunte bille in Karnataka, Paandi in Tamil Nadu, and Tokkudu Billa in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. These games have similar principles in that players must hop on one foot and must throw the marker in the right square. The game is enjoyed by kids throughout the country.

New York City: Potsy

Potsy is the name of a hopscotch game that was played in New York City. The name probably refers to a "potsherd" that was used as a marker.[31]

Brazil: Amarelinha

In Brazil, this game is called Amarelinha.

Chile: Luche

In Chile, this game is called Luche.

Latin America: Rayuela

Boys playing tumatu in Ghana
Boys playing tumatu in Ghana

In Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay, and Spain the name of the hopscotch game is "Rayuela",[32] but following some cultural evolution, in Chile this name now is applied to a throwing game.[33]

South Asia: Chindro

Chindro is the South Asian version of hopscotch.

Catalonia: Xarranca

Xarranca is the Catalan version of hopscotch.

Ghana: Tumatu

In Ghana, the name of the hopscotch game is tumatu.[26]

Portugal: Jogo da Macaca

In Portugal, this game is called Jogo da Macaca.

Longest design

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020 a giant hopscotch game with nearly 1,000 squares was created in Edinburgh, to be used while following social distancing rules.[34][35]

World record

The current Guinness Book of World Records holder for the fastest hopscotch game is Ashrita Furman, at 1 minute and 2 seconds.[36]

In popular culture

"Hopscotch to oblivion", Barcelona, Spain; an example of dark humor
"Hopscotch to oblivion", Barcelona, Spain; an example of dark humor


  1. ^ Baker, Kate (10 January 2015). "Laggers". Kathleen, Kage and the Company. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  2. ^ Gold, David L. (Spring 1981). "Three New-York-Cityisms: Sliding Pond, Potsy, and Akey". American Speech. 56 (1): 17–32. doi:10.2307/454476. JSTOR 454476. In the 1950s, the game was called hopscotch and the object thrown a lagger /'lagar/. "Lagger" is related to the verb "lag"
  3. ^ "Definition of HOPSCOTCH". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 15 March 2022. a child's game in which a player tosses an object (such as a stone) into areas of a figure outlined on the ground and hops through the figure and back to regain the object
  4. ^ Mccarthy, Cheryl; Connell, Gill (20 June 2012). "WHY HOPSCOTCH MATTERS". Moving Smart. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
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  10. ^ Hoppy Taw Hopscotch Lagger
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  13. ^ "Hopscotch". kidspot. NewsLifeMedia. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  14. ^ "Hopscotch Game". Fun Games Kids Play. Retrieved 2017-04-24. The two basic rules to remember - 1. Players can only have 1 foot in each square of the hopscotch board at a time. 2. Players have to hop over the square with the rock in it.
  15. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hop-Scotch" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 687.
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  22. ^ The journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 26. 1870.
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  24. ^ OED Online. March 2012. Oxford University Press. 24 April 2012: "scotch: An incision, a cut, esp. a long gash made in the flesh; a score; a notch. Obs. (arch. and Eng. regional (E. Anglian) in later use)."
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  33. ^ "Rayuela – a Traditional Chilean Game". Pepes Chile. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
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