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Issue 11

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Traditional Children's Game:

Games with Sticks, Stones, or Small Metal Objects

International students playing jacks
Photo: Sandy Peters
International students from Mexico and Thailand remember how they played jacks when they were children.

In some games, sticks or stones are usually tossed into the air. Then the fun begins. These games have been played over the years by children everywhere, and most of them are still popular today. In Korea, the whole family—children, parents, and grandparents like to play a game with four sticks on New Year's Day.


In Nepal, young boys toss pointed sticks into the air and tried to catch them.

In Korea, young girls play a game of jacks, tossing small stones onto the ground, throwing a ball up in the air, and and trying to pick the stones up before catching the ball.

In Indonesia, young girls play a similar game, using small steel objects.


Yut, A Game Played on New Year's Day in Korea

Hye-Mi Cho from Korea

This is a traditional game in Korea. There are four sticks, each one made of wood and about 15 centimeters in length. The sticks have two sides; the upside is rounded and the downside is flat.

Before the game starts, people have to divide into teams; usually two to four teams works best. Then we draw a very simple game board on a white paper. It's easy to draw. Just draw 7 small circles or points so it looks like an x-shaped square. A point on the lower right side of the game board is the starting point and a point at the opposite lower left side is the end point. To win this game, you have to get the most points and arrive at the end point first.

Suppose two people play the game. One of them throws the sticks to the ground first. If the flat side comes up, it means you get a point. If two flat sides come up, you get two points. If four flat sides come up, you get four points. If four rounded sides come up, you get five points because it's difficult to do that. If you get one point, your stone can go one step forward on the game board. That means, if you get four points, your stone can go four steps.

In Korea, we play this game on New Year's Day. On that day, all of the family and relatives get together and play this game. Usually, we divede into three teams and the oldest grandmom is the judge. We bet some money on who will win.

We enjoy the game. If one team wins, that team gets the money, but they have to buy some food or drinks for everybody. I think playing this game is a very good way for people to stick together without considering the differences in people's ages.


Dundi Biyo (A Game Played with Sticks)

Milan Gurung from Nepal

There are a lot of games that we would play when we were young. As far as I can remember, I used to play the game called Dundi Biyo quite often with my friend. Sometimes we would skip school and play this game all day long.

This game requires two straight sticks. The main stick is about 24 to 30 inches long, and the other one is about 6 inches with both ends pointed. It is played by tow or more people in an open field.

We decided who would start the game by throwing the small stick. Whoever threw the furthest started the game. A small hole was dug in the ground, and the small stick was placed on tip of the hole.

The person who started the game threw the small stick from the hole with the main stick. The other players would run and try to catch the small stick in the air without dropping it on the ground. If the stick was caught, the first player would be out of the game. But if the stick was dropped on the ground, the same player resumed the same. The player then tossed the small stick in the air by hitting on its sharp edge and threw the stick further with the main stick.

If the player missed the toss, the distance between the hole and the position of the small stick was measured and another player started the game in the same way. At the end of the game, whoever threw the small stick furthest from the hole ( i.e. distance was measured between the small stick and the hole won the game.

The game is dangerous because you might get hurt if you are hit by the stick while playing, so you have to be very careful, and it must be played in an open field.


Kongki Noli (Jacks)

Lee Young-Ah from Korea

This game is for girls. When we were little girls, we used to play this came at break time or lunch time in the classroom. There were two ways to play the game .

One way we used five small stones. First of all, we threw all of them down on the floor. Then you picked one up with your fingers and tossed it into the air. You had to pick another one up and then catch the one you threw in the air. Then you picked each of them up in turns.

The second round you played, you picked two stones up at a time. The third round you played, you picked three of them up, then you picked the last one up. The fourth round you picked four of them up.

The last step you tossed the stones into the air and caught them on the back of your hand. You had to snatch them off and try to catch them in your palm. The number which you caught was your score. After that, you started over. If you failed to catch them, it was your partner's turn.

The second way we played, we used 100-200 stones. We put them all together and tried to make groups. If you succeeded in catching them, they would be yours.

When we played this game, we used our fingers. According to some researchers, moving your fingers helps develop your brain, so I think this game is very good for children.  


More traditional children's games:

Games of Consequence 

Special Photo Gallery: International students demonstrate games.

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