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The Games Children Play (computer games aside)

The Games Children Play (computer games aside)
on March, 28 2013

In this age and time, the popular games children play are computer games, and they come a-plenty. But wait, when it comes to playtime, there are still other games that are worthwhile to play by children to help pass their time, establish teamwork and cooperation, educate and definitely allow players to have a fun time. Various cultures have their own take on jump rope, hide and seek, tag and hopscotch, each one played with its own unique twist depending on where in the world it is being played. Here are some popular playtime activities by children from different parts of the world.

Hopscotch games

Hopscotch traditionally involves a player, a piece of stone or marker and some writings on the ground, to indicate spaces where to land. In Indonesia, hopscotch is called Yohanes Lie, which is a one leg jumping game. Rectangles or squares are drawn on the ground using a piece of chalk, each one measuring about a foot wide. A child then hops from one box to another while balancing on one foot. When the fifth box is reached, he has to turn around and hop all the way back to the first square. The object of the game is to avoid touching the lines between the rectangles. If a player fails at the task, the penalty is having to stand on one leg for five minutes while the other players continue the game.

In Columbia, little girls play Rayuela, which has eight squares instead of five. A stone is thrown inside the first square and the first player then has to hop to the other squares. Players need to avoid landing on the square where the stone has landed and also can’t land with both feet in the first, second, third and sixth square.


Greeks are known for their impressive ancient statues, but they also have a game called Agalmata, which translates to “statue” in English. The “It” is placed in the center of the playing area and closes his eyes while counting up to any number he chooses. While this happens, the other players scatter around. When he stops counting, he opens his eyes and whoever is still moving when he opens his eyes becomes the next “It”. The other players must be still like a statue, but remain in a pose mimicking any other famous statue that they have seen. The “It” can try to make the other players laugh to make them move, thereby eliminating them from the game.

Let’s play ball

Playing with balls is an activity that transcends cultures. In Columbia, the children play Oba. It’s a simple game wherein the players simply throw the ball against a wall while singing and making various movements, and at the same time trying to catch the ball back again.

Sticks and stones 

Young children in Nepal have a game in which a stick is thrown in the air and the player has to catch it so that the stick doesn’t land on the ground. It’s a game that typically just has one player. Another version of this game utilizes two sticks and is played by two players, called Dundi Biyo. The objective is to be able to throw the stick the farthest.

On the other hand, Korean children have a team game that involves a stick, called Yut. This game is played during New Year’s Day in the country. It involves using four wooden sticks, wherein one side is rounded while the other side is flat. The stick is thrown in the air, and depending on how it lands will determine if the team gains a point or not. If the stick lands with the flat side up, then the team wins a point. If the sticks thrown land with all four flat sides, the team wins four points. The highest point is five points, which is given if four rounded sides come up. Two teams of two to four players play. On a game board, seven small circles are drawn to resemble an x-shaped square. The object of the game is to win the most points, since each point allows players to move one notch up on the board game till the end is reached.

In Ghana, a games using sticks and stones is played, called Pilolo. At the start of the game, a timekeeper is assigned as well as a finish line. The sticks and stones are hidden in various parts of the playing field by the timekeeper. When the timekeeper yells out Pilolo, which translates to “time to search for” the players scramble and try to find the sticks or stones. The first player who finds one then needs to race to the finish line in order to win one point. When this happens, a new timekeeper is assigned and the game resets. The winner is the player who gets the most points.

Game of jacks

Jackstones is a game played usually by little girls. A small ball is bounced on the ground and while it is midair, the little girl has to grab as many jacks as possible before trying to catch the ball one again. In Korea, the game of jacks is called Kongki Noli and small stones can be used instead of jacks.

Pass the parcel

In the United Kingdom, the game of pass the parcel has its roots dating back to the medieval period, wherein a special gift is wrapped in cloth and passed around. In modern times, a gift box containing a silly surprise is wrapped in various layers of giftwrapping. The children are gathered around in a circle and when the music is played, each child passes the parcel to the person next to him until the music stops. When the music stops, the first layer of giftwrapping is removed. When the music restarts, the games continue, up until all the layers of giftwrapping are removed. Whoever manages to remove the last layer of giftwrapping gets to open the box and keep the surprise inside.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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