Stone skipping is the pastime of throwing a flat stone across water in such a way that it bounces off the surface, preferably many times. Who of us, as children, hasn’t tossed stones over water trying to “skip” them across the surface?
When I was preparing The Skipping Stone for publication, I did a little research in order to include some fun facts in the back of the book, including instructions on how to choose and skip a stone. What I also learned is stone skipping is not just a fun, childhood activity, it is a serious competitive activity practiced by grown men and women worldwide.
The object of the sport is to see how many times a stone can bounce before sinking. In the United States, we tend to measure consecutive skips, although in countries outside the U.S., distance is measured as opposed to skips. Since 1997, competitors from all over the world have a taken part in World Stone Throwing Championships. Historical results can be found here. It boggles my mind that someone can skip a stone 88 times!
Wouldn’t it be fun to pack up the family and head to the world championships to watch this magic in motion? If you’re not able to head to Scotland for the world championship – it’s certainly out of reach for me – perhaps you can catch the Mackinac tournament in Michigan. You can also find tournaments in Pennsylvania and California. Maybe you could take the kids to do a little beach combing and collect stones for practicing stone skipping. You never know, you might have a future record breaker in the house!
I’ve been collecting skipping stones since my picture book was published and I give them to anyone who purchases my book. If you’d like to try your hand at skipping stones, I’ve created a special offer: purchase one autographed copy of The Skipping Stone and receive five carefully selected stones for skipping, perfect for a day of family fun!
As a worldwide pastime, every language has a unique word or term for this game. Here are a few translated examples:
English: “skipping stones” or “skipping rocks” (North America), “stone skimming” or “ducks and drakes” (Britain), “stone skiffing” (Ireland)
Bengali: “frog jumps” (Bengachi); “kingfisher” (“Machhranga”)
Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian: “(to throw) little frogs” ((bacati) žabice)
Bulgarian: “frogs” (жабки)
Cantonese: “skipping (little) stones” (片石(仔) [pin sek (tzai)])
Catalan: “making step-stone bridges” (fer passeres), “making furrows” (fer rigalets), “skipping stones” (llençar passanelles)
Czech language dělat (házet) žabky/žabičky (to make/throw frogies – countrywide and generally intelligible., Some regions and dialects used also: dělat kačky/kačeny/kačery/kačenky/káčata/káčírky (to make ducks/drakes/ducklings, esp. in East Bohemia and parts of Moravia) rybičky/rybky (little fishes), mističky (saucers), talíře (plates/dishes), podlisky/podlíšky/lyšky (wagtails), potápky (divers), pokličky/pukličky (pot-lids), plisky, plesky (flaps), žbluňky (plops), šipky (darts), bubliny (bubbles), židy (jews), páni/panáky (sirs/figures), babky (gammers/wagtails), panenky (dolls/girls/dragonflies), převážet panenku Mariu (to ferry Virgin Mary), and many others.
Danish: “slipping” (smut or at smutte), “to make slips” (at slå smut)
Telugu “frog jumps” (kappa gantulu)
Estonian: “throwing a burbot” (lutsu viskama)
Finnish: “throwing bread/a sandwich” (heittää leipiä/voileipiä)
French: (faire des ricochets)
Greek: “little frogs” (βατραχάκια)
Hungarian: “making it to waddle”, lit. “making it walk like a duck” (kacsáztatás)
Japanese: “cutting water” (「水切り」[mizu kiri])
Korean: Mulsujebi (Hangul: 물수제비; RR: mulsujebi), meaning Water(Hangul: 물; RR: mul) and Korean soup Sujebi.
Macedonian: “frogs” (жабчиња)
Mandarin: (打水漂 [da shui piao])
Marathi: ([bhakrya kadhne])
Mongolian: “making the rabbit leap” (tuulai kharailgakh) or “making the dog lick” (nokhoi doloolgokh)
Norwegian: “flounder” (flyndre)
Polish: “letting the ducks out” (puszczanie kaczek)
Portuguese “little fish” (peixinho) or “little seashells” (conchinhas)
Russian: “baking pancakes” (печь блины [pech blini])
Spanish: “making white-caps” (hacer cabrillas), “making frogs” (hacer ranitas)
Swedish: “throwing a sandwich” (kasta smörgås or kasta macka)
Turkish: “skimming stone” (taş sektirme)
Ukrainian: “letting the frogs out” (zapuskaty zhabky)