Hopscotch taws

When you play Hopscotch, you usually start by throwing a small object into the first square of the pattern. The object is sometimes called your taw. It can be something you find on the ground, like a stick, stone, piece of broken rubble or block of wood, or you can make your own. Everyone in the game has their own taw, and no-one else uses it.

A good hopscotch taw lands on the ground and stays put, without moving too far. The ground surface makes a big difference. If you’re playing on a hard surface, like asphalt, choose a flat stone or a fairly light taw that doesn’t bounce around. If you’ve scratched your pattern in the dirt, almost any taw will be fine because the surface is softer. The best thing to do is try out a few different kinds until you find one that you like. Some players have a favourite taw that they always play with.

You can make your own taw by putting sand or dirt into a flat tin and sealing it well, or make a small bean bag from colourful material. Bean bags are good because they don’t bounce or roll, but make sure the seams are well-stitched, so they don’t split. Bean bags are not suitable for playing games where you have to kick your taw around.

Here are some different kinds of taws:

Stones are often used for taws. Choose a flat stone so it won’t roll out of the square. When throwing your stone taw, toss it so it doesn’t bounce too much.

Sticks can be good taws if they’re not too long or too light. The block of wood is ideal for Kick Hoppy – large enough to be kicked or nudged with the foot, and it doesn’t roll.

Broken pieces of paving, cement, roofing tile, slate and other kinds of rock often make really good taws because they are flat and have enough weight to throw easily.

Old shoe polish and confectionery tins are ideal for Kick Hoppy, as they can easily slide along the ground. Put some sand or dirt into them for weight, and make sure the lid is sealed tightly shut.
A shoe polish tin used as a taw is called a peever in Scotland and a piggy in Ireland.

Bean bags are great for games where you have to throw your taw into the squares, because they stay where they land. Make sure you use strong material and sew the seams well, so they don’t split when you’re playing with them.

How to make a bean bag taw

Cut a piece of fabric approx. 20cm long and
11cm wide. Fold it in half lengthwise.

Machine-stitch the ends together, approx. 2cm in from the end. (If making by hand, use small stitches and sew twice.)

Hand-sew a line of long running stitches around each end, approx. 1cm in, and leave the ends of the thread loose. Use strong thread for this.

Pull the threads to gather one end of the fabric together tightly, and tie a secure knot to keep the end from opening.

Turn the bean bag inside-out, so the seams are inside. Put a couple of spoonfuls of rice, adzuki beans or other dry filling into the bean bag. Only make it half full – don’t fill it up or it might burst.

Pull the loose threads to gather together the open end of the bean bag, and tuck the gathered end inside before you tie the threads tightly. Sew a few stitches in each end, to keep the holes closed.

Now you have your bean bag taw to play Hopscotch.

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