Jack Stones is a very old game historically and internationally. Irish children in 1916 certainly played them and a lovely collection of differing ‘Jack Stone’ games are included from Clare and Roscommon which were transcribed from the Schools Manuscript Collection.
All you need to teach these games are the instructions given by the children and five stones.
Jack Stones – Clare
I play ‘jack stones’ during the summer with five round stones.
(1) ‘Back hands’ is the first step. Put the stones on the palm of your hand and turn your hand around not letting them all fall.
(2) ‘Twos’ is the next step. Leave four stones on the ground and one in your hand. Pick up the others two by two.
(3) ‘Halves’ is the next step. Leave four stones on the ground and one in your hand. Throw the one in your hand up and take two off the ground and take the others one by one.
(4) ‘Ones’ is the next step. Take four up singly ad catch the one coming down.
(5) ‘Threes’ is the next step. Throw up one stone and take up three and then the other one
(6) ‘Fours’ is the next step. Take four up and catch the one coming down.
(7) ‘High Fours’ is the next step. Take five stones in your hand and throw up one, leave down four and catch the one coming down. Then throw up one and take up four.
(8) ‘High threes’ is the next step. Throw up one and leave down the rest. Take up three and then the remaining one catching the stone coming down.
(9) ‘High ones’ is the next step. Throw up one stone and take up each of the others one by one catching the one coming down.
(10) ‘High Halves’ is next step. One stone is thrown up and two taken from ground. The former must be caught coming down. Then two more taken up.
(11) ‘No Noises’ is next. One stone is throw up and the others singly making no noise.
(12) ‘Charms’ is the next step. Throw up one and take up another. With these two in the hand take up another with three take up the other. Then turn them round on your hand and catch some on your palm.
(13) ‘Pick an egg’ is the next step. Take up one and throw it up. Take up one off the ground and let one in your hand out
(14) ‘Crows to bed’. Place your left hand on the ground with your fingers outspread. Then with right hand pick up stones one by one and put them into the spaces between fingers.
(15) ‘Long ladder’ is the next step. Put four stones on the ground and keep one in your hand. Throw up the stone in your hand and take the first and third stones together catching the stone coming down. Do the same for the remaining stones.
NFC. Vol 588 pg 187-9 (Clare)
Jack Stones – Roscommon
Jack stones are played with five small stones any number of children can play together, each child throws up five stones and the one that gets the highest number on the palm of her hand starts playing first.
That child plays on until she drops the stones again.
NFC. Vol 233 pg. 306-7 (Roscommon)