The 4th grade
classes that visit the Five Mile House each April participate in a variety
of activities to give them a better sense of life in the 19th century.
One of the activities is period games which includes Graces and Hoop
- In the game of Graces,
opponents send gaily beribboned hoops whirling towards each other to be
caught on the tips of slender wands. Graces was considered both proper and
beneficial exercise for young ladies in
the 1800s and it was proper as well, for boys to join in the game. The game
of Graces remained very popular throughout the 19th century and was
described as early as 1834 in the Girls Own Book:
“This is a new game, common in
Germany, but introduced into this country from France. It derives its name
from the graceful attitudes which it occasions. Two sticks are held in the
hands, across each other, like open scissors. The object is to throw and
catch a small hoop upon these sticks. The hoop to be bound with silk, or
ribbon, according to fancy. The game is played by two persons. The sticks
are held straight, about four inches apart, when trying to catch the hoop;
and when the hoop is thrown, they are crossed like a pair of scissors. In
this country it is called The Graces or The Flying Circle.”
- 4th grade students play graces during the 2008 school program.
Left - Illustration of girls playing La Grace from the 1834
Girl's Own Book.
- Illustration of boys rolling or trundling hoops from an 1828 book.
Below - photo of 4th grade students rolling hoops during the 2009
- Children have
been “rolling”, “bowling”, and “trundling” their hoops from the time of the
ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In colonial America, boys and girls raced with
hoops made of
wood or metal, driving the hoops forward with hands or sticks. By the early
1800s, a traveler’s account remarks on how city streets had been taken over
by “armies” of young men racing hoops along the sidewalks, driving proper
pedestrians into the streets. From the Boys Own Book published in
“Everybody knows how to trundle
the hoop in the usual way; several pairs of tin squares are sometimes nailed
to the inner part of the hoop, which produce, in the opinion of some lads,
an agreeable jingle. In some parts of England, boys drive their hoops one
against the other, and the player whose hoop falls in these encounters, is
- for hoops, graces and
other period toys and games. Some of the above information came
from the information included with the hoops and graces purchased from Cooperman
Co. They also carry an assortment of items under the headings of
Music, Everyday Life and Citizens & Soldiers.
Best way to order is
from their website which is listed below.
Source for Hoops, Graces and other period games and
Bellows Falls, VT