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Hopscotch has been a favorite game of children for centuries. It is played by marking squares on the ground and leaping into designated squares in a particular sequence. The name comes from the 17th century term escocher, meaning to cut or cut with a stick.
Out of hopscotch, oddly enough, some elements of history have survived thanks to the chanted "calls" passed down from mother to daughter over long periods of time. Perhaps most notable and relevant to the antebellum and Civil War period is the chant which is known today as "The Pateroller Song" ("pateroller" is a term derived from the word "patrollers", a reference to the men who patrolled the highways and byways in search of runaway slaves), a song which slaves began long before the War Between the States began, and one that continues to this day through the hopscotch and jump-rope chant.
Games Children Played
The first player tosses the marker (typically a stone, coin or bean bag) into the first square. The marker must land completely within the designated square and without touching a line or bouncing out. The player then hops through the course, skipping the square with the marker in it. Single squares must be hopped on one foot. For the first single square, 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.
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.