Games and toys are part of most kids’ lives. Whether poor or rich, cold or hot, big or small, each country has toys and games that all the kids (and adults!) love playing. When writing a post about Russian toys and games and talking to my friends from different countries, I was intrigued by how many are different and yet how many are similar or the same (it is worth another whole blogpost).
So in this post, I want to showcase some of the toys and games that represent some of the countries around the world. By no means is this a full list. You will find traditional ones mixed in with fairly modern ones. As it was compiled based on the information I have collected from my friends and fellow bloggers ( plus some use of Wikipedia), I am looking forward to the comments that will complete, compare, and correct the information I loved putting together!
Over 20 Toys and Games from Around the World
Jugar a las figuritas – it is played with “baseball” cards (of course we have soccer cards!). Kids compete with each other for their collections. The cards are placed against a wall. You throw other cards from far away and if you knocked one down then it was yours.
Mensch-ärgere-dich-nicht – (literally: person don’t be upset) is a board game for 2-4 players. Goal is to move all of your 4 figures around the board without your opponent sending you back to the beginning.
Qi qiao ban – also known as Tangram. Here is what Marie-Claude from Marie’s Pastiche writes on her blog: the “seven-board of cunning” puzzle was invented 1500 years ago, and still used today as a popular toy and in schools to teach trigonometry and geometry. It consists of 7 pieces, or tans, that are moved around to create a shape, often following an outline. The 7 pieces include five right triangles (large, medium and small), one square, and one parallelogram. The rules are simple, though the puzzles range in complexity. When doing a tangram puzzle, all seven pieces must be used, they must lay flat, they must touch, and none may overlap. Read the whole article here. You can also get it for your electronic device here.
Afrikan tähti – The Star of Africa was developed in 1951. It is a Finnish family board game and was essential part of childhood for most children in Finland. Rita from Multilingual Parenting explains: You travel on foot, by sea or air – depending on how much money you have earned by finding diamonds (and not coming across bandits). The goal is to find the biggest diamond (Star of Africa). I remember this game sparking my interest in Africa, its people and wildlife.
Sophie la Girafe – Sofie the Giraffe is a rubber toy in the shape of a giraffe that babies can chew on. It appeared in 1961 and was named after the day it was launched at (on 25 May 1961, the feast day of Saint Madeline Sophie Barat). More toys are sold in France than babies born. It is also popular in the US, especially in California.
Fröbelstern – Froebel star (sometimes called a Moravian star) – this is a traditional German advent decoration, a three-dimensional star that is made from 4 strips of paper. From Wikipedia: Crafting Froebel stars originates in German folklore. Traditionally the stars would be dipped into wax and sprinkled with glitter after being folded
Ampe – This is a game best played with a group of four or more, but just two people will do, too. It’s an active game, with so much clapping, singing, and jumping involved that it almost looks like a dance. It’s a game that’s been past down from generation to generation. A leader is chosen and the rest of the group either stand in a semicircle or split into groups of two. The leader begins by jumping, and when you land from your jump, you place one leg forward. Points are earned depending on which leg (left or right) meets the opposite leg of your opponent first. Everyone gets a chance to be the leader and usually the first person to reach 10 points wins! ( from Africa.com http://www.africa.com/blog/the_top_5_african_games/)
Rubik kocka – Rubik’s Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik and now is played all over the world. It was especially popular in the 80-ties but is still widely used. Competitions and records with Rubik’s Cube are governed by an international World Cube Association .
Carrom (also known as Karrom) is a “strike and pocket” table game of Eastern origin similar to billiards and table shuffleboard. Ayesha from Words N Needles listed it as one of the Indian games. It is found throughout the East under different names though most non-eastern people know it by the East Asian name of Carroms (or Karrom). It is very popular in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and surrounding areas. In South Asia, many clubs and cafés hold regular tournaments. Carrom is very commonly played within families, including the children, and at other social functions. Different standards and rules exist in different areas. (from Wikipedia)
Il Lupo mangiafrutta – Fruit eater wolf is one of the classic childhood games that are played in a group. The rules of the game are quite simple. There is one wolf and all the fruit. The wolf is on one side and the fruit is in front of him in a line. Each child thinks of a name of a fruit. Wolf: “Toc Toc” (l ‘ onomatopoeia of knocking) Children: “Who is it?” Wolf: “I am the Wolf mangiafrutta!” Children: “What fruit do you want?” The wolf names the fruit and the child/children who were that fruit run around the line of the ‘fruit” and need to get back to their spot without being “eaten” by the wolf. If the wolf catches the child becomes the fruit.
Awale – (aka Mancala) is a game that is played all around Africa and has several names and variations (game of six in Togo, adjito in Benin). Essentially the “pit and pebble” games are played all around the world (check out the Phillipino game sunka, it is also played in Malaysia, Ceylan, Louisiane and Brazil). Marie-Claude from Marie’s Pastiche has a great article about this game here.
The rules differ from one country to another but the principle never change: it’s a game based on calculation. You can read the detailed game rules with illustrations on Ethloludie here. And even play it online or get it for your device here.
Uta-garuta (or Hyakunin Isshu百人一首) are a kind of karuta, Japanese traditional playing cards. It is also the name of the game in which they are used. The game is played mostly on Japanese New Year’s holidays. On each card, a poem (waka) is written, and there are a total of 100 poems. The standard collection of the poems used is called Hyakunin Isshu, which is often also the name of the game. There are different ways to play but the main goal is to complete the poem that is being read. Read more on Wikepedia about the rules of the games.
Galimoto – wire cars – originally kids were making them to play with but now a lot of them are made for sale and for tourists. Kids still make ingenious card out of trash of all kinds. There is a great book about the cars and a teacher’s guide to it that is a wonderful resource.
Sjoelbak – Sjoelbak is a shuffelboard game, and one of the most beloved games for kids and adults in the Netherlands. The Sjoelbak is a long board placed on a table. The goal is to slide 30 wooden disks (or pucks) towards the end of the board and try to have them enter through four small open arches that are numbered from left to right: 2, 3, 4, 1. This game is played also in Belgium, France (billard hollandais) and in Germany it’s called Jakkolo, whereas in Czech they adopted the Dutch word šulbak. To read the whole story of the game and some others please read more at Ute’s blog Expat Since Birth.
Sunka, or Sungka, is a Filipino game which is the same as Mancala. In the Philippines, the board is made of wood with a handle, 7 “bowls” carved on each side of the bowl, and 1 larger bowl carved on each end. Goal is to collect the most shells in your large bowl. It involves basic math principles (comparing quantities, subtraction) and there are strategies to win the game. Thank you Lana from Smart Tinker for this information!
Skaczące Czapeczki, Jumping Caps is a Boardgame for players of 3+ years old for 2 to 4 persons. Skullcaps are weighted down with a metal ball, place the cap on the launcher, aim for the center of the board. Then hitting the other end of the launcher pad one ought to try to hit their target with the skullcap into the holes in the board.
The colors correspond to the circles on the board awarding the following points. Each player in his turn takes three throws. Caps remain on the board until the player proceeds to his next turn. On the board remains also those caps that did not hit any holes. If during the throw of another player such cap hits the hole, the owner of the cap receives points. If during one’s turn the cap falls into another player’s cap, presently in the hole, the player receives double points. The winner is the player who collects the highest number of points after established earlier number of turns.
All filled with dots and a bunch of multicolored pegs are used to mimic a design that is given with the game or to come up with designs of your own. It is for kids older than 3 years old as the pegs are quite little. For more on Russian toys check our my blog Russian Step By Step for Children.
Jagi Jagi – Haboona from The Ramblings of a Saudi Wife found a video of a game she used to play as kids. It’s a Somali game, called Jagi Jagi, she remembers many fun evenings playing this with her family. Very simple. Just have 5 rocks you through one rock and need to pick up other rocks. There are different combinations of difficulty. Although the video is in Somali it is quite easy to understand what’s going on one you forward to the part where she is actually throwing the stones.
Tiddlywinks – an indoor game played on a flat felt mat with sets of small discs called “winks”, a pot, which is the target, and a collection of squidgers, which are also discs. Players use a “squidger” (nowadays made of plastic) to shoot a wink into flight by flicking the squidger across the top of a wink and then over its edge, thereby propelling it into the air. The offensive objective of the game is to score points by sending your own winks into the pot. The defensive objective of the game is to prevent your opponents from potting their winks by “squopping” them: shooting your own winks to land on top of your opponents’ winks. As part of strategic gameplay, players often attempt to squop their opponents’ winks and develop, maintain and break up large piles of winks. (from Wikipedia)
Лялька-мотанка – Lialka-Motalka is a handmade cloth doll that is very traditional and represent a lot in the Ukrainian culture. They are usually made for the kids to help protect them and have a lot of other protective and supportive attributes for the women and the family. They wear traditional Ukrainian outfits and can be a beautiful craft to try and make with older kids.
Yahtzee – a dice game made by Milton Bradley (now owned by Hasbro), which was first marketed as “Yatzie” by National Association Service of Toledo, Ohio, in the early 1940s. The object of the game is to score the most points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. The dice can be rolled up to three times in a turn to try to make one of the thirteen possible scoring combinations. A game consists of thirteen rounds during which the player chooses which scoring combination is to be used in that round. Once a combination has been used in the game, it cannot be used again.(from Wikipedia) You can now get it for your IPod or other .
Kudoda – There’s a few variations of this game, all which need at least three players to make it fun. In this game players sit in a circle and in the middle a ring is drawn and then filled with stones. The first player tosses one stone into the air, then tries to pick up as many stones as possible from the ring before catching the pebble tossed. After that the next player has his/her turn. The play continues until all the stones have been caught. The stones are then counted up, and the player with the most points wins. ( from South Africa Inquiry Investigation)
What’s your favorite toy or game from around the world?
About the Author
Anna Watt is the Editor and Co-Author of Russian Step by Step. Originally from Russia, Anna has a Bachelor’s in Education and Linguistics from Moscow State Pedagogical University in Moscow, and a Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication from University of Lille 1, IAE Business School in Lille, France. Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian. Her education, work experience and many years of teaching and tutoring both in the actual classroom and online helps her understand the needs of students as well as the design, management and promotion of language courses, textbooks and learning materials. Anna is very interested is supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wife.
Latest posts by Anna Watt (see all)
- Christmas and New Year’s Books in Russian, French and English - December 7, 2015
- Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #33 - November 15, 2015
- Language and Music: Paying It Forward - August 6, 2015