Back to Basics :: How to Play Jacks

This blog post is sponsored by Learning Express in Snider Plaza, Dallas, Texas.  I hope you’ll pop over to the Learning Express website and like them on facebook!
I’m excited to share a new monthly series on Dukes and Duchesses called Back to Basics!  The series will focus on traditional games … each post will feature a game from the past and a coordinating DIY project.  My husband and I thought it would be fun to teach our kids some of the old traditional games and I decided to share them with you too!

This month we’re playing jacks and making a drawstring storage bag!
how to play jacks, traditional games
Do you know how to play jacks?

My kids had never even seen jacks, let alone played it.  We bought a bright-colored jack set and I taught the kids how to play.
back to basics, traditional games, how to play jacks
It’s simple but definitely takes some practice.  Throw the ball up, and with it bouncing only once, pick up one jack in the same hand that you threw the ball with.  {We modified that for the little ones and let them use both hands … it was still a bit tricky.}  If you’re successful, bounce the ball again and pick up two jacks.  Continue on, adding a jack each time.  When you miss, the play moves to another player.  When you get your turn again, you start where you left off.

My kids had a great time playing their new game!

And when they finished, they packed the jacks up in their cute little drawstring bag.

To make one you’ll need:
 a piece of fabric for the main part of the bag {6×8 inches, cut on the fold}, a piece of coordinating fabric for the front patch {3×4 inches}, heat and bond, a piece of ribbon for the drawstring, and a piece of wide bias tape for the casing.  I also used heat transfer jacks {cut with my Silhouette} but you could use fabric paint to freehand the jacks or use a freezer paper stencil to paint them on.

how to play jacks, back to basics, traditional games

Apply heat and bond to the back of the patch and fuse it to the outside front of the bag then stitch around the edges.  {I leave a bit of a border between the bonding agent and the fabric edge because I like a little natural fraying.}

how to play jacks, traditional games, back to basics

With the fold at the bottom of the bag and right sides together, stitch or serge the sides of the bag.

traditional games, back to basics, how to play jacks

Finish the top raw edge {I serged mine}, fold it down about half an inch, and stitch in place.

how to play jacks, back to basics, traditional games

Folding raw edges under and leaving a small gap along the side seam, pin the bias tape into place just below the upper edge.  Stitch the top and bottom of the bias tape, leaving the side edges open.

how to play jacks, back to basics, traditional games

Insert the ribbon through the casing and tie a knot.

back to basics, how to play jacks, traditional games

Apply your design to the front of the bag and you’re done!  You have a cute carrying case that doubles as storage for your jack set.

how to play jacks, back to basics, traditional games

Do your kids enjoy traditional games?  What’s a family favorite?


I’m linking to The Gunny Sack

I’ve started truncating my posts … please pop over to my blog to read the rest!


  1. says

    I used to love playing Jacks and as I remember, I was pretty good! Great idea to show the kids some “old school” unplugged games and that bag is adorable.

  2. Jenn "Rook No. 17" says

    Wonderful! I love Jacks! What a wonderful way to introduce the classic game to a new generation!


  3. says

    OMG you literally read my mind. We were just talking about how to play jacks with the kids the other night and the truth is– neither one of us remembered! So thank you! xo

  4. says

    Here is my ditty from childhood while playing Jacks.
    Say while picking up one Jack…..”Pick a Cherry”
    Throw ball up and while putting the Jack towards your mouth say…”Eat a cherry”.
    Throw ball up and toss Jack aside while saying….”Throw the stone away”.
    Then repeat. Pick two cherries (while picking up two Jacks), “Eat two cherries” (while bringing toward your mouth), “Throw two stones away” (toss two Jacks down)
    etc. etc. etc.
    I can still see my mother in my imagination doing this….great memory with lots of laughs.