Introduce games from the various cultures you study with the students. Games can often teach us much about other aspects of a people group, how a culture interacts socially or the values/skills/ethics important to their work. Much of children’s play is a rehearsal for life as adults.
YEAR ONE UNIT THREE
Japan – Paper Boat Races
Students design boats out of paper (either individually or as a team). Each boat should have a string connected for “docking” the boat. The first boat to make it down the waterway and is safely “docked” (by winding the string around a stick at the end of the course) is the winner.
YEAR ONE UNIT FOUR
Turkey – Mule (Kaddir)
Select one person to be IT. Tie a long rope to a post and have IT hold on to the end of it. Other students, with long swatches of cloth, try to tag IT with the cloth before he/she tags them. The tagged player is now IT and becomes the mule in the center.
YEAR ONE UNIT FIVE
Syria – Motion Tag
One student is designated IT and pulls the ear or pinches the nose (gently, of course) of the person next to him/her in the circle. The victim must do the same to the next person, and on around the circle. Whoever laughs or speaks is out of the game.
YEAR TWO UNIT TWO
Malaysia – Turtle’s Nest
One student is chosen to be the TURTLE and guards the “eggs” (stones). The other players try to snatch the stones before the TURTLE tags them. The first student to get tagged must become the next TURTLE. The “eggs” that are taken, are then hidden in different places for the TURTLE to find.
YEAR TWO UNIT SIX
Hong Kong – Basket Race
Divide the group into two teams. One child from each team sits inside a large basket and at the signal, races to the finish line using only their hands and arms to move about. The player brings the basket back to the next child on the team, until all have had a turn.
YEAR THREE UNIT ONE
Cameroon – Clap Ball
Divide the students into two teams and have them stand directly across from each other. Players swiftly toss a breadfruit (or similar fruit/vegetable) back and forth to each other, moving down the line. Each time it is caught, everyone must clap and stomp.
YEAR THREE UNIT ONE
Bolivia – Bread Toys
A unique form of play for the children of Bolivia is to create dolls and animals from bread dough. Have students mix a large batch of bread dough (see Cooking Together). After forming a 12 inch toy, letting it raise for about an hour and then baking it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, students play with their creations for a time, and finally eat them.
YEAR THREE UNIT FOUR
England – Milkmaid Ball
Each player sits on her/his milking stool (or something similar). Choose a student to be IT and ask them to stand in the center. IT throws up a ball and the others rush to trade stools with their neighbor before IT catches the ball and throws it at them. Whoever is hit (tagged) becomes IT for the next round of play.
YEAR FOUR UNIT ONE
Brazil – Hit the Penny
Place a foot-long bamboo stick upright in the middle of a circle three feet in diameter. Place a coin on top of the stick. Students take turns throwing a penny at the coin, trying to earn a point by knocking the coin inside the circle. The student with the most points wins after a predetermined amount of time or until everyone has had the same number of turns.
YEAR FOUR UNIT ONE
Paraguay – Peanut Shelling Contest
This is a game played on festive occasions. Each student is given the same number of peanuts in the shell (30-50) and a container for the unshelled nuts. At the signal, students begin shelling their nuts. The first student to completely shell all the nuts wins. In case of a tie, have the two students count their shelled nuts and the one with the most, wins.
YEAR FOUR UNIT SIX
Vietnam – The long Breath Game
This game is a test of endurance. Designate one student to be IT. This student must hold his/her breath, crying “oo” as he/she runs across a line into the enemy’s territory. Those IT touches are captured unless the opponents can hold on to IT until he/she runs out of breath. The first person captured becomes the next IT.
Ideas taken from Children’s Games Around the World by Jeanne and Helen Clarke