Family Time Calendar: Hopping Games

Remember hopscotch? Introduce it to your kids -- with a twist!

What you'll need:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Small distinctive stone for each player (let them search for their own -- that's half the fun!)

What you'll do:

For "category hopscotch," draw a large box on the pavement (at least three feet square) and divide it into three rows of three squares each. Number each square from 1 to 9. Next, select a variety of categories such as cars, fruits, colors, animals, states and presidents.

The first player tosses a stone on the first square and jumps on one foot to every square until he or she reaches the ninth. In each square, the player must chant a word that falls into the category. For example, if the category is animals, the player might recite, "Cat, dog, mouse, etc." until he or she reaches the ninth square.

If a player hesitates while jumping or repeats a word, that player is out until the next round. If the player gets through all nine squares while reciting all the correct words, he or she throws the stone onto square two in the next round and can skip square one.

Ideally, the fun of this game is in the hopping and brainwork, not winning. Hopping games are great fun, but they also offer a physical benefit: They help kids master coordination and balance. Make the rules easy when children are young, then try more elaborate hopscotch versions when kids are older.

Here's a supereasy hopping game to get the kids going immediately: Let them draw any number of squares (or any shape) in a row. The design may cross over itself, wind around in crazy loops and spirals, follow a long path -- whatever the kids desire, as long as it returns to the starting square.

Then, they just hop from box to box -- no game, no rules, no stone, just pure hopping fun.

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