How to Play the Ancient Game "Bowling Hoops"

By Mary Strain
The ancient hoop toy survives in the modern world.

Bowling, or rolling hoops, is a very ancient childrens' game. Its exact origins are unknown, but it has existed in some form for thousands of years across many civilizations. Ancient Greek artwork depicts boys rolling hoops, and various hoop games have existed in China and Africa from antiquity. The hoop is large, like a hula hoop, and made of wood or metal. A short stick, made of metal or wood, is used to roll the hoop along. The simplest form of bowling hoops only requires the player to keep the hoop rolling. However, as the player's skill level increases, he can move up to more diffcult forms of the game.

Hoop Race

Stage a hoop race. Line a group of children on a wide, flat surface, such as a parking lot or track.

Tell the children to have their hoops at the ready. At the signal, the children roll their hoops as fast as they can toward a finish line.

Declare the first child to roll his hoop across the line -- without letting it fall -- the winner.

Hoop and Dart

Play hoop and dart. This game has been played by Native American tribes for hundreds of years to practice hand-eye coordination. Give each child a handful of darts, or alternatively, foam balls.

Roll the hoop quickly along the ground a few yards in front of the children. If you want to make the game more difficult, start further back.

Award the children points for each dart they throw through the rolling hoop.

Hoop Tricks

Encourage a child to build his physical fitness by learning to do tricks with the hoop. In ancient Greece, hoops were so large that a child could jump through them, and some learned to jump back and forth through a hoop as it rolled.

Teach your child how to use the bowling stick to throw the hoop to friends. This form of "catch" is a very ancient form of bowling. The stick is used to lift the hoop and throw it to other children, who catch it with their sticks, and throw it back.

Show your child how to hula-hoop. Historians are sure that this use of the hoop dates back at least as far as the 1950s.

About the Author

Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.