Adults Featured Kids — 17 July 2016

Learn the rules for playing your child’s favorite summer games.  Third in a three-part series.

By: Jodie Shield, MED, RDN

One of my favorite childhood memories was playing four square, with my best pals Lori, Jean, and Flo. We used thick, white chalk to draw giant squares on my sidewalk and we played for hours, only stopping when our mom’s called us home for dinner . Back and forth we would bounce that ball, working up a sweat, trying to get each other out so that one of us could be king. I loved being “King” because that meant you were in charge and everybody had to play by your rules. Recently, I was with my ten-year-old niece, Abby, reminiscing about my four square days. She asked me, “How do you play Aunt Jodie?” I’m embarrassed to admit, but the “King” could not remember! In my past few posts, I covered the rules for pool games and  backyard games. This week I’m going to share the rules (which I researched on the Internet) for two popular sidewalk games you’ll want to play this summer with your kids.  Grab some sidewalk chalk and let’s play!


Kids’ Favorite Sidewalk Games

#1 Four Square

Four players each get a square.  Bouncing a ball back and forth, players must guard their square as they try to knock others out of theirs.


At least 4 players, a rubber ball that’s easy to bounce, and chalk to draw the court

Object of the Game:

To be the KING in square one.  The KING has the power to set the rules for the game such as: players must use both hands to hit the ball, players must call out the name of a state before hitting the ball, or what ever fun rule they declare.

How to Play:

Use chalk to draw a court that consists of four equally sized squares; each square is numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Players begin the game randomly assigned to squares, but move up or down based on a hierarchy after points are won and lost. The KING always starts play and is square 1. To begin, the KING serves the ball using his/her hands to bounce it into one of the adjacent squares.  The player who’s square it lands in has only one bounce to hit it into another player’s square or the player is out. Players can use any part of their hands from wrist to fingertip, but at no time are they allowed to carry, catch or hold the ball.  Players rotate based on a hierarchy.  For example, if player 3 loses, he/she moves to square 4 (or the back of the line if there are more than 4 players) and all the other players move up.  However, the KING stays in square 1 until knocked out.  A player is considered out for the following reasons:

  • Hitting the ball out of bounds.
  • Not hitting the ball into another player’s square properly.
  • Hitting the ball incorrectly.
  • Violating a special rule invoked by the KING.

Recommended For:

Kids ages 5 and older.  Helps build hand eye coordination.


#2 Hopscotch

Chalk it up and get ready for some fun! Players hop, skip, jump in a sequence to win.


At least two players and some sidewalk chalk

Object of the game:

To be the first player to finish one full course for each numbered square without stepping on any lines is the winner.

 How to Play:

Use sidewalk chalk to draw a hopscotch court consisting of ten evenly sized squares that are distributed into a pattern.

hopscotch copy


The first player tosses some kind of marker like a stone or coin into the first square.  The marker must land within the confines of the square without bouncing out or touching a line.  The player then hops through the hopscotch course, making sure to skip the square with the marker in it.  Players hop in a single square with one foot, and use two feet for the side-by-side squares.  After completing the sequence, the player continues his/her turn, tossing the marker into square number two and repeating the pattern.

A player loses a turn if her or she:

  • Steps on a line.
  • Misses a square with the marker.
  • Loses balances.

Players begin their next turn where they last left off.

Recommended For:

Children ages five and older.


Summer is a perfect time for families to play together.  Active games like four square and hopscotch get everyone in shape while having fun.  What was your favorite sidewalk game growing up?


Jodie Shield is a Registered Dietitian, mother of three, and author of Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens (EatRight Press, 2012).  You can follow more of her blogs at Healthy Eating for Families.


Related Articles


About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N. Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

(0) Readers Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *