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History of Games - Boules

Did you ever wonder whose brilliant brain thought up the sports and games we play today?

This blog series will investigate some of the UK's favourite family games and looks at when and why they were created. This is a great opportunity to celebrate UK heritage and encourage kids to start playing garden games for more Montessori play!

Over the next five weeks, we will explore a game per week to look at the history of garden games through the years!

Week 3 - Boules

Life is more fun if you play games. - Roald Dahl

Royal Ball games

Rumour has it that the Romans first invented the game around 2600 years ago. They supposedly originally used stone balls (ouch!). The game became widely popularised throughout Europe during the Middle Ages—so much so that King Henry III had to ban his archers from playing it due to it becoming such a distraction.

King Charles IV & V made a law to ban commoners from playing it, which lasted nearly 300 years until the 17th century! But by 1907 the French-derived their own version of boules called Petanque. This modernised version of the game became more popular because of its simplified rules, the most important of which is that your feet must stay anchored to the ground. In 1959, the first World Championships were organised.

Kids Extra-Curricular

The game of Boule is played between two teams of 1-3 players.  Each player uses 3 boules.  In triples 2 boules only per player. The game begins by tossing a coin to decide who should have the right to place the small ball, the “but” or “jack”. When all the boules have been played, the team who has the boules nearest to the “but”. The game continues until one team has reached 13 points.

This is a great game for kids. The team set up teach great collaborative play and teamwork. Waiting for turns enforces a sense of patience and the act of playing a turn helps develop gross motor skills. There is also a numerical benefit on playing this with kids. Determining the count of play and keeping score up the amount of 13 points to win is great practice.

Amazing Boules Facts

  1. As France’s tenth most popular sport, Pétanque is now an established part of the French school system.
  2. Founded in 1985, the World Federation of the Sport of Boules has fought for decades to get the game recognised as an Olympic sport!
  3. The name Pétanque comes from the word “la petanca” for “feet together’’.
Kate Luke
Creative Content Editor
After graduating with a 2.1 Music degree, Kate pursued a career in the Music Industry, becoming a professional West End vocalist and a fully qualified Music Teacher, School Choir Leader and Songwriter. As one of Jaques of London’s Creative Editors, her specialism surrounds building confidence and expression through music & play—drawing upon her qualifications in Music Psychology & Child Development. As well as this, she is an accomplished blog writer and published journalist who enjoys promoting the importance of Montessori learning for all ages.