Chuck stones / Jack stones

This is a very old game which has many different names; pieces made from a multitude of different materials and a whole manner of different ways to play it.

Many names

I know it as 'chuck stones'  (as it is called in the North-East of England where I grew up) - played with 5 small wooden cubes.  It is also known as 'knucklebones' in Australia, where 5 knuckles from a lamb shank were used to play. It is also known as 'gonggi' in Korea, where 5 weighted plastic 'stones' are used.


The game originated from the times when children had to 'find' their own toys and games to play in their surroundings - rather than go to the toyshop.  Small stones and bones were easy to find.

How to play

The game is essentially played by throwing the stones (or other objects) up in the air and catching them in different combinations and in different ways.

The most basic one is to start with all five stones in the palm of your hand, throw them up in the air, turn your hand over and try to catch as many of the stones as you can on the back of your hand.  You then throw those you caught up into the air again, and try to pick up those you didn't catch before they fall back down again and you catch them too in the palm of your hand! 
Sometimes it is played with a ball too - which is bounced and used as a kind of 'timer' for throwing and catching the stones.

There are many different variations on this - many of which have names! A good list and description of the variations can be found here, for anyone interested!
There is even a World 'Jacks' Championships! 

Here's a video showing some variations on the game.

Why play?

Chuck stones is a great game for developing dexterity, and as an ancient traditional game that has been played for thousands of years all over the world - also an important piece of human culture to pass on to our children.

I introduced this game to our girls and they really enjoyed it.  Very challenging, but definitely an easy one to come back to again and again, play in different ways and with whatever 5 small objects come to hand, wherever you are.

Do you remember playing this as a child?  What did you call it and what did you play it with?


  1. That sure is interesting. I never knew that was a kids game... I have only seen the versions people use for 'fortune' telling.
    ~ Kimberlee at The Spunky Diva 

  2. I have never heard of this but I will be playing it this summer while we camp with my boys, they will love it!

    I am stopping by from the I ♥ Blogging hop, thank you for joining our hop!

  3. I am also from the North East and knew this game as chuck stones. I have searched and searched to find the little chalk cubes we used to play with but cant find them anywhere. I totally agree it develops coordination and is also a good counting game. We started as you describe by throwing them all up and catching as many as we could on the back of our hands and then picking the dropped ones up etc. this was called 'onesies'. this was then repeated only we picked the dropped ones up two at a time called 'twosies' etc. We also varied the game once we were 'expert' by combining two sets and competing with 12 stones. Spent hours and hours playing this with friends. Fabulous memories

    1. Oh yes! I remember the chalk cubes!! Such a fun but simple game!

    2. Yep, Tyneside girl here too. I've been looking for chalk chucks doe about a month. Jacks are spiky and the ball bounces too much. Mind, I remember scraping my knuckles on tarmac playing it at school.

      Maybe we can create a demand.

    3. Thanks Janet! Yep - we could start a new craze!

  4. I am sitting here looking at 5 little coloured chucks - my hubbby found them still in their box at the back of his drawer that he was clearing out yesterday :D

  5. Oh wow Bernadette!That's awesome! I remember mine but don't think my parents would still have them!


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