The Childrens Game of Jacks
"Jacks" is a game that has been played in cultures throught the
world. Many of us played as children and continued playing as
teens and adults. I have memories of playing on my grandmothers
floor with my aunts and cousins, all of us seeing who could get
to the highest level. Each Christmas or Thanksgiving we would
pick up where we remembered leaving off the year before. Such
memories to treasure and try to pass on to our young people today.
I tried to find a web site that had advanced level games of Jacks,
like "Pigs In The Pen" and "Around The World", but to my surprise,
there I couldn't find a single site with instructions for advanced
level. The sites I could find only discussed basic play.
I decided to try and list some rules and instructions to play some
of the games I remember playing as a child on our school play ground
at recess and some of those my aunts and grandmother played while
growing up. I hope you enjoy these and are able to master the
challenges. Good luck and have fun.
How to play Jacks
- Set of 10 Jacks
- 1 ball (you can use the ball that comes in the sets or
if playing outside on a sidewalk, golf balls work great)
Start of Game
- "Flip" for who goes first. (see FLIPING below)
- Begin by throwing the jacks out on the floor
- Throw the ball into the air, pick up the correct number of jacks
- Let the ball bounce once
- Catch the ball (while still holding the jacks) with the same hand
- Continues until you foul
- If you foul, your turn is over and the next player takes their turn
- Levels: Start with "ONESIES" you'll pick up one jack at a time,
and place them into your other hand until you've collected all ten
next level is "TWOSIES" Picking up two jacks at a time.
next level is "THREESIES", you pick them up three at a time
with one left over. You pick up the leftover(s) by itself.
Continue through to "TENSIES" then back down to ONSIES
You can then go on to "Advanced Levels" (see below)
Cart Before The Horse
If you pick up the leftover jack(s) before you've picked up all the evenly grouped jacks,
you are putting the "cart before the horse" and therefore must call "cart before the horse"
as you take the leftover jack(s).
- Take all the jacks in the palms of your two hands held together palm up
- Throw them into the air as you turn your hands over(palm down)
so that the backs are now upwards with index fingers touching to form a
surface onto which you will catch the jacks.
- Throw the jacks into the air again
- This time returning your hands to the palms up position at which you started
- Catch as many jacks as you can
- NOTE: When flipping for first, the player who drops the least goes first.
- You may also decide to flip at the beginning of a game.
- Flipping at the beginning of each level
- You will Flip until you drop a jack
For instance, your first attempt to do Twosies). The level at which you drop
the jack(s) must be played from those dropped jacks. You continue from there.
Thus, if you drop 2 jacks on your third flip (threesies), you would have to pick
up the two jacks together (since at threesies you are taking them three at a time)
and then continue with foursies. How far you can flip is decided at the outset of
a game: flip only to fivsies, flip to tensies, flip all the way, and no flipping.
- The first player to complete the agreed upon steps.
- In Basic Jacks, the first player to complete the challenge of going from Onsies
to Tensies and back down again to Onsies. The next stage is to do Advanced Play.
Exceptions To The Rules
If two (or more) jacks are touching after your initial throw
- Optionaly you may pick up the kissing jacks and drop them again
- Or leave them
Other Sites For Rules
Basic Play RuleS
Nostalgic Site For Basic Play Rules
Masters Site For Basic Play Rules
Advanced Play Games
Pigs In The Pen
- Scatter jacks,
- left hand palm down on the ground
- cup the hand and make a basket - opening toward the jacks
- Toss ball up with the right hand
- Slide the correct number of jacks into the opening
- catch the ball with the right hand after it bounces
- After you have all the jacks in the basket, pick up all the jacks to continue
AROUND THE WORLD
- Scatter jacks
- Hold your left hand palm up
- Throw the ball up with your right hand
- Pick up the correct number of jacks with your right hand before the ball bounces
- After the ball bounces circle your right hand with the jacks around the bouncing ball and catch the ball with your right hand still holding the jacks.
- Transfer the jacks into your left hand.
- If you fail to pick up jack(s)
- If you drop a jack after you have picked it up
- If you touch another jack while attempting to pickup jack(s)
- If you all the ball to bounce more than once
- If you fail to catch the ball
- If you pickup the wrong number of jack(s)
- "Pigs in the Pen Only"
If the jacks fail to go in at least half way
If you fail to pick up all of the Jacks after sliding them into your hand