My informant is from Oakland, California. Her mother was born and raised in Haiti. She shared with her some experiences of her time living in Haiti. My informant decided to share with me the rules for the Haitian version of Jacks.
“The start of the game began around the Roman Empire and took different evolutions. It’s basically a game where you play with animal knuckles—you play with bones. Now they just make it and you play with metal pieces. But back then kids would play with literal bone pieces. The way that the knuckle worked is it has like four sides. You don’t use a ball and have it bounce to pick up like how we play Jacks. So when you throw it up in the air, you have to catch. So when you have these knuckles, you only play with four knuckles. When you throw I guess the master knuckle or the father knuckle, you have to hurry up and catch or pick up one of the other knuckles on the surface and then catch it before it comes down. You would do it by ones and then by twos.”
I always wondered what the reasoning was behind the shape of the small metal “jacks” in the game. Producers made them that way to resemble the original knucklebones used in ancient times. This game has been around for over 2000 years. It has probably stuck around for so long because of how simple, portable, and fun it is. There are so many different ways to play the game. Players can choose to add or drop whatever rule they please. The flexibility and variability of the game is what keeps the game interesting. Not only is it fun and entertaining, but it also serves as a helpful tool for building hand-eye coordination in young children and building motor skills in children with autism and/or sensory processing disorders.
For three versions of how to play the game, go to http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Jacks