Kids age out of hopscotch pretty quickly, but that giant tub of sidewalk chalk doesn’t have to be wasted. The traditional game of hopscotch can be tweaked a little; we give you some ideas in this Plentifun article. And we also have some other sidewalk chalk games that are equally interesting. Introduce them to your kids and watch them get out in the fresh air and have fun.
Did You Know?
Years ago, Roman soldiers played hopscotch, sometimes hopping very long distances, carrying heavy weights, to judge their strength and speed.
Sidewalk chalk is an icon of childhood, and is a prime example of a parent’s favorite toys – one that’s affordable, forces kids to be creative, and doesn’t require extensive cleanup. As your kids get older, however, the novelty of drawing on the sidewalk tends to wear off and the jumbo bucket of chalk bits gets relegated to the back of the closet. Instead of giving up in frustration and allowing the kids to sit in front of the TV, teach them these sidewalk chalk games. Here you go.
You may already have the board game Pictionary, but it gets a whole new dimension when played outside. The whole driveway is your canvas, and the series of drawings it takes to get to each answer can end up making ridiculous storyboards.
Pictionary is easy to play – player 1 thinks of a word or phrase, then uses drawings to describe it to the other players in one minute or less. The only rule is that you cannot write letters or numbers. You can set a game-point ahead of time, but this game usually devolves into a fit of giggles long before that.
Hopscotch is an old game that continues to bring fun and laughter for all ages! The kids get to draw their own colorful hopscotch game board as well as practice their hopping. Better yet, it can be played with one or several people. You need a chalk and a marker such as a pebble, bottle cap, or shell. The objective of the game is to move from the first square to the end, and back again to the start.
Using a chalk, draw a hopscotch board consisting of squares on the ground. There are variants in the drawing of the board. Number them from 1 to 10. The squares drawn should be large enough to fit one foot and ensure that a stone thrown into the square will not bounce out easily.
To begin the game, toss the marker into the first square so it lands somewhere inside the box. The player hops in each square except the one with the marker in it. Only one foot has to be there in each square as one hops over the squares. If it’s a single square, hop on one foot, for a double square, land on two feet.
After completing till square 10, hop back until you finish, pausing in square one to pick up the marker, and hopping out of the board. The game continues until the player is done tossing the marker till 10. A player is out if he steps on a line, misses a square while tossing the marker, throws the marker such that it lands on a line or loses balance. At that point, another player takes a turn.
Here’s an interesting variant of hopscotch. Instead of hopping and picking up the marker, have the kids do different activities; decide a certain activity for each square that they land in. On landing in a particular square, they need to perform the action written on that spot.
Mathscotch takes hopscotch to a whole new level, and gets those little kid brains jogging. Draw a hopscotch-sized calculator on the ground, with numbers and functions. Each player will toss a pebble onto a number, then hop out an equation that equals that number. Turns continue until the player gets an equation wrong or steps on a line, and the first one to make it from 1 to 9 wins. The difficulty of this game can be scaled up or down, depending upon the age and math ability of the participants.
As a variant to Mathscotch, and for younger kids, draw a grid and write a different number in each square. The player has to toss a pebble and reach that square in those many steps/hops. For example, if his pebble lands in the block numbered 5, he has to reach the block in exactly 5 steps.
Pretend Play is a fun game where kids can be anyone they want! It could be a fairy, a Superman, Santa Claus, a butterfly, their favorite animal, and the list goes on.
For Pretend Play, let the kid draw a background of an object or a simple scene like an ocean, a garden, the sky, buildings, or anything else imagined, and color the picture. Depending on the image concept, the kid should place himself inside, outside or as a part of the image. Various elements can be introduced in the image. Capture the kids’ creativity in your camera. This sidewalk chalk activity becomes a good exercise for the kids’ imaginative skills and allows them to literally draw out their dream.
One can have the kids lie down on the ground and then draw their body outlines. Let the kids then fill the shapes with colors, draw their faces, and dress the chalk drawings with clothes. Mix, match, and have fun. Give them a theme for the clothing such as summer season, winter season, formal, casual, or anything else. Kids will love his game and it will also allow them to be creative and express their choice of dressing and color.
Tic-tac-toe becomes a challenge when you add an element of hand-eye coordination to it! Draw a grid on the ground – the size is up to you. A 3×3 grid is best for younger kids, but a 10×10 grid would be challenging enough for teens.
The object of long-distance tic-tac-toe is just like the tic-tac-toe you know – line up your shapes in a row from edge to edge, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. But there’s a twist – instead of just writing in their shapes, the players must stand at a distance and throw a pebble. They only get to mark their shape in the box in which the pebble lands (landing on a line counts as a miss).
The distance depends upon the kids’ ages – obviously younger kids need to stand closer, but challenge the older ones to see how accurate they can be at different distances. To make it even harder, make the grid’s squares smaller.
Play with Letters and Numbers
Kids can be taught alphabet and number recognition through this sidewalk chalk activity. Write letters and numbers on a sidewalk at a certain distance from one another. Then have the kids hit a ball with a stick or something similar, such that it lands on a letter or number. They have to name the number or letter that the ball lands on. If older kids are taking part, have them say/write five words starting with the letter, or five multiples of the number that the ball lands on.
Let the kids draw letters on the sidewalk, and then have them do an activity whose spelling begins with the letter drawn. Plan activities like jumping, running, tossing a ball, or telling a story or joke. The kids will absolutely adore this game.
Write names of objects or emotions on the sidewalk. Then each participant hits a ball and depending on where it lands, he has to describe the object or enact the emotion.
In shadow tracing, kids have to make a human shadow sun dial by tracing their shadows at different times throughout the day and writing down the time when the shadows have been traced. This will help the kids learn about the sun, shadows, and the time of the day.
You could have the kids make different shapes in the shadows using their hands and head; for example, a shadow of two fingers making a ‘v’, the thumb and index finger bent to form an ‘O’, or any other letter, the shadow of a bent hand, or that of a tilted head, among others. And while one kid makes a shape, have the other kid outline the shadow.
Four squares is a great game to build skillfulness and sportsmanship in children. The game is about progressing from a peasant’s spot to a king’s spot and stay there as long as possible.
Four Squares can be played on a sidewalk. You will need a chalk, a ball and four players. Using a chalk, draw a 10-feet square on the sidewalk. Then divide it into four equal squares and number them from 1 to 4, moving clockwise. The player in the square 1 is known as the king, in square 2, known as the queen, in square 3, known as the jack, and in square 4, known as the peasant.
To begin, the player in square one, who always starts the round, serves the ball using his hands to hit into any one of the squares. The player whose square it lands in must hit it into another square. The ball can be hit in the air or after one bounce.
The game continues until a player fails to hit the ball properly into another player’s square or hits it out of bounds. At that point, the player has to move to the peasant’s spot, and the other players advance or rotate based on a hierarchy. Players may use any part of their hands, one hand or both, to hit the ball. However, carrying or holding the ball is not allowed.
As a variant, have the kids help you draw different elements of a city, like houses, streets, traffic signs, buildings, bridges, hospitals, gardens, etc. Then teach the kids about these elements or introduce them to the concepts of town planning.
Kids will love this activity too as it is a great way to combine science and fun. Have them draw constellations on the sidewalk. Allow them to use pebbles to represent stars. You could give them some information about the constellations drawn or tell them some amusing facts about stars or our galaxy.
Connect the Dots
In this activity, draw dots as an outline of a letter, number, shape, image, or anything else. Now, begin with the first dot and label each dot either in order, in sequence of odd numbers, even numbers, multiples of numbers, or any number pattern you want to teach the kids. You could also label the dots with letters of the alphabet. Then have the kids connect the dots in the correct order to see what they have learnt.
Plan sidewalk chalk activities with stencils. Buy stencils of various sizes and shapes. Have the kids place them on the ground and color inside the holes in the stencil.
Because sidewalk chalk washes off so easily, there’s little reason to consign it to the ground only (except it may be wise to have a “don’t write on the car” rule). Divide the players into two teams. Each team will go around within a defined area, leaving a trail of riddles that each lead to the next clue. Once the trails are set, the teams swap and follow each other’s trail. The first team to reach the end is the winner – it helps to have a small prize of some sort at the end of both trails.
So, wasn’t that some outdoor fun for the whole family? And all it needs is a bucket of chalk. Whoever said that low-tech was boring? Your kids? Show them how they’re wrong.