We're going way back to a primitive toy that required nothing but a few items that most children could readily find on the family farm. Children would take the metal or wooden rim from an old wagon wheel and use a sturdy stick, paddle, or loop of wire to roll it as fast as it would go. Although the hoop as toy had been around since at least 1628, it came into its own in the 1800s [source: Victoriana Magazine].
As simple as the concept sounds, children came up with endless variations of hoop and stick play. Both boys and girls (finally!) played competitive games including hoop races, slaloms and obstacle courses. Children would sometimes even get a hoop rolling fast and then attempt to run through it as it turned [sources: Abernethy]. The hoop and stick might also be a solo pastime, as children would roll the hoop as they walked to and from school or town, much the way a kid today might kick a soccer ball around the yard or down the street to a friend's house.
Hoop and stick games remain popular activities for kids who visit historic attractions like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia or Philadelphia's Independence Hall area. You can even buy a high-end hoop online made out of ash or hickory if you want your kids to try the activity at home.