19th Century Kids Games : How to Teach Your Children to Play Knucklebones, Knuckles, Jacks

19th Century Kids Games : How to Teach Your Children to Play Knucklebones, Knuckles, Jacks

On our recent trip to Elizabeth Farm in Sydney we came across a set of Knucklebones. I must admit that prior to this chance encounter I have never shown my kids this game so they were unfamiliar with it and had no idea how they were used. Their imaginations did take hold and they were able to guess a whole number of possibilities for the use of the bones but were far from guessing the actual game.

19th Century Kids Games : How to Teach Your Children to Play Knucklebones, Knuckles, Jacks

You may know knucklebones as plain knuckles or even Jacks. It is an ancient game played for thousands of years. Early knuckles, and indeed those that we found at Elizabeth Farm, are made from a piece of the lamb shank. Five are needed to play the game. There are many variations of the game but we traditionally play it by tossing the five jacks in the air and catching as many as possible on the back of the hand. You then flip your hand over and catch as many as you can in the palm of your hand. All of the knucklebones are then put down except one which you toss in the air while you attempt to pick up all the knucklebones on the ground as you try to catch the one in the air two.  Sounds a little complex right? I’ve found that kids will make it up as they go along and as long as they all agree, there is no problem – right?

19th Century Kids Games : How to Teach Your Children to Play Knucklebones, Knuckles, Jacks

Want to play it by yourself? I adore this video:

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