Monday, 1 October 2012

Traditional Children Games

Children today are spending less time outdoors than their parents did as children and this is having a huge impact on their health, growth and mind development.

Whether or not the children now are fortune with playing with computer games alone than those of yesteryears.
I must say I prefer playing traditional games with happy active group of friends.
Those kids who are passionate about video games only will grow up destined to spend their life as a social outcast or loner.

I know my niece don't play any of that stuff I used to play. Those kid will not play the traditional games of yesteryears as they find it boring or too childish. Kids who watch too much television are growing up too fast. They speak, dress and act more like adults than we used to.

I wanna borrow Joker's favorite line, 'Why so serious?'

The kids needs to slow down and enjoy life as a child and don't lose the sense of playful, fun, creative, laughing and joyful child.

It is hard to please yourself. When you're a kid, you wish to grow up fast to become an adult but when you've became an adult, you're gonna wish and miss the days of being a kid again.

A majority of parents putting too much pressure of school life for young kids. Even after school they have to go to the tuition class. Afterwards the child would still have to complete the homework from school as well as those from tuition.

So much of academic result oriented lead to little or no time for outdoors physical activity.

As far as I could remembered, I never studied at home after school hours during my primary school. What I remembered was the schoolbag will leave at home and straight to play with my friends. Oh no I lost track of the time, be prepared to take punishment by caning for being late for dinner!

The traditional games played by children of my generation will be forgotten due to many kids who show no interest in these games. You won't even find it played in the villages any more. Sad to know even I have forgotten some of the rules of traditional games being played!

The coming generations may not have the luxury of playing or even knowing the games we played during the bygone era unless we document the facts while they are still relatively fresh in our memories.  Some of games are localized and some traditional games played from other countries.

What are the games we played in the good old days? Will the traditional children games dying out?

Let us go back in time to the good old days and  revisit our childhood traditional games.

Game 1: Hopscotch- In Malaysia it is called Aeroplane Jumping(Chinese Translation), ting-ting or ketengteng.

Hopscotch is a children's game which originated as a training exercise in the Roman Army that can be played with several players or alone. Arguably it's found in China as early as 2357 BC.

The shape of hopscotch are variants on drawing the design(circles, squares or cross) but the most common shape played here is the shape of an airplane.
Hopscotch is a popular playground game in which players toss a small object as marker into numbered spaces of a pattern of rectangles outlined on the ground. Hop through the spaces to retrieve the object.

Let see if I get this right on how to play:

Throw a flat stone or whatever small object (bottle cap is a popular choice) to land on square number one. It must land inside the square without touching the border or bouncing out. If you failed, you lose your turn and  the next person gets to play. If you get it right, go on to the next step.

Hop through the squares, skipping the one you have your marker on. Each square gets to hop one foot. You can choose which foot you want. You may not have more than one foot on the ground at a time, unless the square you hop is in between of two squares, in which case you can put down both feet simultaneously.

Always keep your feet inside the correct square(s); if you missteps on a line, hop on the wrong square, or step out of the square, you will lose your turn.

Pick up the marker on your way back. When you have reach the last number(square), turn around (still remaining on one foot balancing) and hop back in reverse squares order. While you've reach the square right before the one with your marker, lean down (balancing on one foot) and pick it up, then skip over that square and finish the rest.

If you completed the course with your marker on square one (and have not lose your turn), then throw your marker onto square number two on your next turn. Your mission is to successfully complete the course with the marker on each square. The first player to get all square done will wins the game!

I've always lose to girls when comes to hopscotch

Game 2: Runner and Tagger as Galah Panjang

There are two teams with at least 5 person on each side. One will play the role as runner and the other as tagger. The object of the game is to get through the lines controlled by the opposition know as taggers. The number of runners able to get through the line without being tags is the winner.
Many years ago when we organised a holiday trip to PD, I had a chance to relive this game. It's so much fun, it's like being a kid again.

Dodging a taggers

Game 3- Spin Top aka Gasing

Spinning tops balance on a point while spinning on an axis. This motion is produced in the most simple forms of top by twirling the stem using the fingers. The supported top is spun by a cord or string while holding the top upright with a support. The whip top is spun by whipping the top. This provides a constant spinning motion.
Occasionally, boys will cried when his top spins broken by his opponent top spin. Therefore, they always search to find stronger wood that will not so not easily broken after being hit.

A boy holding the string after pulling it to spin the top

Games 4- Chinese Game Eagle catch Chicken

The children will select who will play the role of the eagle, hen and baby chicken. The hen will try to protect the baby chicken from the eagle. All the baby chicks will line behind the hen and follow closely whenever the hen goes. The eagle need to catch the baby chick that couldn't follow closely behind. The one that got caught will play the role of the next eagle.

Mama hen protect its chicks against meancing eagle

Game 5- Batu Seremban

Batu Serembat stone is also known as the "batu seremban". This games mostly played by girls.
It is usually played in a group - two or more persons using 7 pieces of stones or other objects used are glass marbles, rubber seeds, medium to large chunks of gravel or small cloth sachets stuffed with small stones, beans, coarse sands.

Batu seremban usually played at a flat floor surface. The player must also sit on the floor so that it is easier to play.
The objective of the game is to throw one of the stones one at a time and sweeping another on the floor simultaneously catching the one you threw earlier on. This game continues to advance stages where the game gets complicated.

Game 6- Rubber Band Jumping

You can make a giant chain rope out of rubber bands usually approximately eight feet long. Tie the ends of the rope to make a rope ring. Two children will stand to face each other with the rubber band rope in front of them. They will act as a post for the rubber band ring. The player then jumps in the rubber band loop, in and then out. If they are successful, the height will be raise higher.

You won't find many obese kids as Jump ropes are very effective at burning fat

Game 7 - Spiders wrestling.

A type of spider is called “leopard tiger” usually selected for fighting. The children take two spiders and put them on opposite ends of a stick. They tilt the stick back and forth until both spiders meet at the center of the stick and start to wrestle. The spider that falls off the stick loses the game.

Alternately the children put them in the match box for fighting. Spiders fight mainly by wrestling and they will wrestle with each other using their legs. They're trying to get a grip on the other so they can bite.

Fight, fight! spider wrestling promote violence? Nah not as much as today video games

Game 8 - Scissors, Paper, Rock or done in Mandarin style-  Jan Dow, Boo, or Schurr toe.

In the US it's called Rock Paper Scissors but in Mandarin in reverse order.

Two kids will face each other and randomly decide which to choose using their palm as Jan Dow (scissor), Boo (paper), or Schurr toe (rock).

At the count of three, both players hold out their palm.

Hand Sign selected for:
Jan Dow (scissor)- Stick out the sign of V sign.
Boo (paper)- open hand is held palm outward, fingers pointing down.
Schurr toe (rock)- Clenched hands/fist.

Scirror win when player choose jan dow over boo.  Scissors can cut paper.
Paper win when player choose boo wins over schurr toe.  Paper can wrap around rock.
Rock win when player choose schurr toe wins over jan dow.  Scissors will not able to cut rock.

Player with same call is a draw.  Nobody scores, so repeat.

Player who scores 2 out of 3; or 3 out of 3 wins.

Alternative sign for scissors pic below, also people here usually Say

Another version of scissors, paper and rock is called “la la li la tam pong” . This is usually used when who will be the one to start the game, we would stand in a circle and sang “la la li la tam pong” while turning the palm up and down following the rhythm of the verse.

At the end of each song line, we would stop  and show either with the palm facing up or down. The one remainder showing the odd hand will lose.
For example, if there are four people, and three show the palm facing up while one shows the palm facing down he loses. Vice Versa. The majority wins.

La La Li La Tam Pong additional rap line..

Ah Pek Beh Ah Pong .............(Ah sells apong)

Ah Pong Lin Lok Hai ............ (The apongs fall into the sea)

Ah Pek Chiak Kau Sai ............(Ah Pek has nothing to eat . . i.e. eat dog shit)

* Apong is peanut pancake,  one of the popular local delicacies in Malaysia

Game 9 - Blind man's bluff

Tag, but without the use of vision. The person who is the seeker has their eye's covered. Can be done indoor or outdoor. The person who they touch or tag  then becomes the next blind man. It is usually played in an area free of dangerous obstructions so that the blind folded player will not suffer injury from tripping over or hitting something.

To add difficulty the one in the middle will be spun to make him dizzy

Game 10- Marbles (guli) games

A marble is a small spherical toy usually made from glass or clay. These balls vary in sizes.

I have played the Marble games all but been forgotten the rules. Used to love and play the games everyday.

One game is involves drawing a circle in sand, and players will take turns knocking other players' marbles out of the circle with their own marble.

Other versions involve shooting marbles at opponent marbles into holes dug in the ground.

Marble can be also a poor man golf game. If he grew up and become wealthy then he can continue playing a rich man's sport.

I can't remember where I put away my marbles?

Games 11 - Hide and Go Seek

There is no limit on any number of children can play. One chosen child (La La Li La Tam Pong can apply here) start first will hides their eyes by leaning against the wall or tree and begin counts up to 10. All the other children will run and hide. When the person has finish counting will says, "Ready or not, here I come". The search can begin and start to find others players hideout.

If you can get back to the pole/tree without being caught by touch/tag it, you are saved. If the seeker tag or touch the hider or the last one found will be the next seeker and must count for the next game.

Hide and seek. We all remember the phrases: 'Ready or not, here I come'

Games 12 - Hop Tag game

One chosen child will be selected to start the game. Mark a large square border lines on play area or field but not too big. Anyone step out or touch the line will have to play seeker.
The chosen one must catch others by tag or touch but can only hop around until almost all but one player that did not gets tagged and thus gets to play pursuer in the next game.

There are too many tradtitional games to talk about. I can only remember a few of them. Other games worth 
mentioning are board games - Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Scrabble, Checkers Board Game, Mastermind and many more.

If you mention the names of any of the boardgames or the traditional children games, the children will scratch their head cause they have no idea what you're talking about. They'll be more likely to say, 'What's that?'.

What we lack in fancy computer games we make up for fond childhood memories through traditional games.

Those were the days when games play with joy and laughter, something computer games will never bring.



  1. There are more than 30 traditional games I played when I was a child in a new village. Still in the process of recollecting these lost games and compiled them for present and future generations.

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