What You Need:        

  • 6 to 16 tennis balls
  • 2, 4, 6, or 8 players
  • Chalk
  • Permanent marker

What You Do:

  1. Explain to your child that petanque is a French ball game (somewhat similar to horseshoes) that developed during the early 1900s in the Provence region of France. It is still played in France and throughout the world with hollow metal balls called “boules.” Your child can play with tennis balls.
  2. At least 2 people should play. Make 2 teams with the same number of people (up to 4) per team. Teams of 1 or 2 players get 3 balls per player; teams with 3 or 4 players get 2 balls per person. Write “1” with the marker on Team 1 balls and “2” on the others.
  3. Find a semi-hard surface (compact soil, concrete, or a solid grassy yard) so balls can roll. The space should be 12 feet by 40 feet or larger.
  4. Use chalk to draw a circle about 20 inches in diameter any place on the play area. 
  5. Have Team 1’s first player stand in the circle and throw the ball, making sure the player's feet stay inside the circle. They should aim for the ball to land 18 to 30 feet away. Write “T” for “Target” on this ball.
  6. If Team 1 has more than one player, the remaining players should now take turns each throwing a ball while keeping their feet inside the circle. Players should each try to get their ball as close to the target ball as possible.
  7. Next, each Team 2 player goes in the circle to throw one ball, aiming to get even closer to the target ball. They can try to knock away any of Team 1’s balls so that their ball is closer to the target. 
  8. Whichever team does not have the leading ball goes next, each throwing a ball until they are leading. Then the next team takes turns.
  9. When a team has no balls left, the other team throws their remaining balls. 
  10. After all the balls are thrown, the team that has the most balls closest to the target ball is the leading team. The leading team scores 1 point for each of the balls that are closer to the target than any of the balls from the other team. 
  11. To start the game again, draw a new circle in the old target area. Continue to play until one team reaches 13 total points. May the best team win!

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