The traditional American game of Graces, also known as ‘French Hoops’ or ‘The Flying Circle’, is an historic outdoor game, primarily designed to develop feminine grace. At one time, ‘Graces’ was also considered an acceptable boys activity. Young ladies were encouraged to play this historic game outdoors and to keep score. Young gentlemen were encouraged to play this game simply for fun. This historical game was brought to the New World from France, where it was commonly known as ‘La Grace.’ Today, both boys and girls enjoy playing the game.
To play ‘Graces’, two players stand directly opposite one another, approximately 10 feet apart. Each player begins with 20 points. One player places a hoop over the crossed wands as shown in the illustration. By quickly moving the wands apart, the hoop is sent flying toward the opposite player. The object is to catch the hoop on one or both wands and return it. The hoop is kept moving back and forth until one player misses. Each miss costs a point. The first player to use all of his/her points loses the game. After you have mastered one hoop, try tossing two hoops back and forth simultaneously.
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Bibliography and Further Reading
1. Carson, Jane Colonial Virginians at Play: A Colonial Williamsburg Research Series. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1965.
2. Daniels, Bruce Colin Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England New York: St. Martin’s Press 1995.
3. Earle, Alice Morse Child Life in Colonial Days. Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Berkshire House Publishers 1899.
4, Hawke, David Freeman Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper & Row 1988.
5. Mintz, Steven Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University 2004.
6. Vinton, Iris The Folkways Omnibus of Children Games. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1970