1. This game was originally called "Knucklebones," as it was played with the knucklebones of a sheep. A player would toss all five bones into the air and try to catch them on the back of his hand or in his palm. It was very much in vogue with ancient Romans. Other cultures used apricot seeds, pebbles, or kernels of corn in place of bones. Today we use six-legged metal objects and a small rubber ball.
2. Greek children called this game "Lame Foot," because you have to hop to play. But the oldest known diagram for the game is set in the floor of Rome's Forum. Paved roads were ideal for inscribing the game all over the empire, and Roman soldiers taught it to the children of Europe as they traveled. Chalk and a pebble are all you need to play today.
3. This game was brought to America by English settlers. It could be played anywhere near a blacksmith shop. Today, playing courts are found in parks throughout the country. The name of this game is accuracy and consistency. In 1987, a Canadian teenager broke a world record that had stood for 12 years by pitching 54 consecutive "ringers."
4. These glass game pieces were originally manufactured in ancient Rome and were very popular among children. Other cultures have used clay, chestnuts, hazelnuts, olives, and acorns as game pieces. It is said that Abraham Lincoln was an expert at "precision shooting" with these "taws." The expression "playing for keeps" may have come from this game. In the first half of the 1900s, this playground game even had an official set of state and interstate rules.
SOURCES: 'The World Book of Children's Games,' by Arnold Arnold; 'American Nonsinging Games,' by Paul Brewster; 'Family Fun and Games,' by the Diagram Group; 'Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' by Charles Panati; 'The World of Games,' by Jack Botermans et al.
(1) jacks; (2) hopscotch; (3) horseshoes; (4) marbles.
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