It’s been about three years since I’ve taught a middle school class, and in that time the average number of middle schoolers playing 8-square during break has declined from roughly 73% to roughly 0%. I take this as a personal insult.
Before Christmas break I told my access class (think homeroom) that we’d have to go outside and play 8-square when the weather got warmer. They did not know what 8-square was, and asked if it was like 4-square. I said only in-so-much-as a blizzard is like an ice-cube. Intrigued –more with the possibility of going outside than in playing 8-square– they have been incessently asking me (a) “What is 8-square and?” (b) “Could they go outside and play it, please?”
As Lauren mentioned, we’ve had some really warm weather lately, so yesterday I took them out. There was much rejoicing. Earlier in the day I had grabbed some seniors (we keep a full supply on hand) who remembered playing 8-square to come out and chalk out a “court”. Traditionally an 8-square court is laid out in a 2×4 grid, but we drew out a 3×3 grid this time. It seemed to work well.
The rules are exceedingly simple:
- The ball must bounce in your square before you hit it.
- You must hit* it with your hand(s).
- You must hit the ball into someone else’s square.
None of the screwy rules you see with 4-square. This is a real man’s game (the girls tend to be as good as the guys). Acceptable exclamations include, “good show”, “bad form”, “nice hit”, “tough one” and “quit your whinin'”. It’s a good game for teaching kids to just take their lumps, because everyone “gets out” all the time.
They are playing with the huge “training ball” right now. Later on I’ll bring out the Tournament Play ball. It’s smaller and bouncier.
*You do have to explain that “hit” is a single momentary contact with the ball. Otherwise you get shoves and holds, which break rule 2 and get you out.