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Five Miles Southeast of Charleston, Illinois







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Hoops & Graces - Games for the

4th Grade School Program

 Back to 2009 School Program

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 Rolling. 

Graces - 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.”



Above - 4th grade students play graces during the 2008 school program.  Left - Illustration of girls playing La Grace from the 1834 Girl's Own Book.

Right - Illustration of boys rolling or trundling hoops from an 1828 book. Below - photo of 4th grade students rolling hoops during the 2009 school program.



HOOPS - 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 1829:


“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 conquered.”



SOURCE - 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 toys:

Cooperman Co.

Bellows Falls, VT 05101