Move over screens! I have chalk and a stone and I’m not afraid to use them.


November 5, 2013 by talkaboutyork

I *may* have ranted occasionally about screens – computers, xbox, playstation, ipad, ipod, phone, Nintendo DS etcetera etcetera – and the fact that they turn children into zombies. I heartily raise my hand and admit that they are a godsend too. Sometimes when you have two boys living in your house, turning them into zombies is actually a necessity to restore sanity. There are days when it’s a screen for them or me necking wine straight out of the bottle.

But the problem is, it is too easy for children to become reliant on screens. It stops their brains from thinking and creating and imagining. You never see kids these days dressing up as cowboys and Indians (possibly politically incorrect??) or cops and robbers or even Hogwarts students and dementors. That requires imagination. Something which screen based games seem to erase – offline at least. I’m sure online they are very imaginative in how they shoot something up.

In our house, which is a city house with a tiny square of paved garden out the back, my children do the following:

  • screens. Which = zombies
  • board (bored?) games. Which = me breaking up fights or dying of boredom (see aforementioned wine out of the bottle situation)
  • nerf gun warfare. Which = stampeding children up and down four flights of stairs shooting bullets (which can knock over your wine)
  • sports. Which = me having to take the children down to the river to kick a football or bowl cricket balls depending on the season. This is fine if I have nothing at home that needs doing. But that doesn’t happen often. And it turns into the retreat from Moscow trying to remember coats/sunblock and balls and stumps and money for ice cream and a bottle of water. Sigh

I have tried suggesting to my children that they build a den at the end of the secure alleyway that runs along the back of our house. Or learn to skateboard there too. Or use their walkie talkies and pretend to be mutant zombies about to invade earth. Or whatever.

But they are just not keen. Because it takes effort.

Then, during our recent holiday to Cornwall, we spent a blustery day on a long sandy beach. The children were skimming stones (a very good occupation for boys) while I wrote my name in the sand with a stick. You know, because that’s what you do on a beach. Anyway, while I had the stick in my hand, I thought I would draw a hopscotch course.

The boys came over to take a look at what I was doing (after smushing my name out with their feet in a bid to be destructive). They did at least recognise it as a hopscotch course (phew, all is not lost). But they couldn’t remember how to play.

To be honest, I had to dust off the cobwebs and remind myself of the rules. But we agreed to have a game. And then another. And they then wanted another but by this point both my husband and I were absolutely exhausted. Because you forget just how tiring it is hopping on one foot while trying to keep your balance while bending over in a tai chi-esque pose to collect your stone. And we were sick of having to pretend to miss our targets to avoid WW3. Just for the record, I rock at Hopscotch.

On our walk back from the beach, I asked my children whether they had enjoyed Hopscotch. They both enthusiastically said yes. So I pointed out that actually it was a great game to play in our back garden, the alleyway out back or on the pavement outside the house.

‘But there is no beach sand there,’ they said.

Avoiding rolling my eyes, I pointed out that it was possible to use chalk (which we have) to draw the course on. And if that fails, use a stone and scrape it on. It was a game that they could make as complicated as they liked and it costs absolutely nothing. Whoop! And it’s tiring and keeps you fit so it’s practically a sport which is the only other acceptable thing in their worlds after screens. And critically, I don’t mind playing it because, as I may have mentioned, I am a bit of an expert at it.

I am now on a one woman mission to bring hopscotch back to the streets of Britain. I may even start up a Hopscotch World Championship. Possibly lobby for it to become an Olympic sport. My dream of winning a gold medal in something may come true.

Anyway, if you have forgotten how to play hopscotch, here is a handy guide that explains the rules and a video to show you some ways to shake it up.

Please join me in my bid to revive hopscotch. After that we can move onto jumping elastics….


9 thoughts on “Move over screens! I have chalk and a stone and I’m not afraid to use them.

  1. Debberoo says:

    Good work on the bring back Hopscotch! I am already working hard on the bring back “elastics” campaign. Its called Chinese skipping over here (US) but to me it will always be “elastics” or maybe French skipping if I’m being very formal.

  2. Potty Mummy says:

    I’m with you – but I have another idea too if you have the room. Make some water balloons, draw 2 targets on the ground, and use the balloons to play 3d Angry Birds… (Kept 15 10year olds VERY happy at a recent birthday we threw…) Less of the fitness I know, but they LOVE it.

    • Ooh I like that one. Except I think my children would end up hurling them at each other. Fine in summer, less so in mid winter. But I shall pocket that one and save it for next year

  3. Yolanda Perez says:

    I spent some time in Australia with my grandaughter and show her the game and like you said, she had a great time! and was a chance to tell her stories about my childhood and share memories with her that will remain for ever …

  4. Love PM’s idea of the water balloon Angry Birds. My boys play 3D angry birds with their stuffed toy angry birds – usualy in the house, which isn’t so good. But it’s a good example of how video games can become real games. Oh, and sometimes the Angry Bird toys are in a pretend school. That always makes me laugh…

  5. Iota says:

    Ooh, I love hopscotch! And I’m a bit of a whizz at elastics too – I was never very sporty as a child, but elastics is more about precision than ability, so it suited me.

  6. […] Although I wasn’t massively excited to drive 40 minutes to play mini golf followed by a visit to a sweetie shop and then probably an afternoon of board games/screens, I was willing to go with the plan especially as he included hopscotch. […]

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