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Issue 11

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Traditional Children's Games: Tag and Chase

A chase game
Photo: Sandy Peters
"You can't catch me!" Children enjoying a game of chase in New England.

In games of chase and tag, the object is to tag, or touch, other players who are then out of the game. Usually one player is 'it' and has to chase and tag the other players, one of whom then becomes the new person who is 'it' .

In other versions, players must be tagged by a ball, sometimes thrown at the player. Here are some tag games from Brazil, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Korea, Colombia, Turkey, and Taiwan.


Queimada (A Brazilian Game of Tag)

Queimada
Drawing by Vivien Yoshikawa
When I was around eight years old, I would call all my friends, and we would spend all afternoon long playing this game.

Vivien Yoshikawa from Brazil

During my childhood, I liked to play a games called Quemada because in this game you are always moving. This game is famous in my country. You can play it from your childhood until your adult life, and it doesn't have an age limit or a limit of players.

How to play Queimada

To play this game, you form two teams. Each team has a field and there is a place called the cemetery. One person from each team starts in the cemetery, so he's dead. The rest of the team starts in the field.

The person who is at the cemetery always starts the game by throwing a ball to the opposite side where his partners are. The "living people" from this team have to catch the ball and throw it against the other team. If someone from the opposite team touches the ball, he is burnt, so he is dead. The "dead ones" go to the cemetery, and the game finishes when every "living person" from one team dies.

I played this game a lot when I was around eight years old. I would call all my friends, and we would spend all afternoon long playing!


Mr. Daruma Fell Down (A Japanese Game of Tag)

Maki Kubo from Japan

Mr. Daruma Fell Down is well-known as a nice game for Japanese children. It is a very simple game; however, everyone gets excited playing it. Children can play it outside when there are five or six friends. Of course, I always played this game with my friends when I was a child.

How to play the game

First, the person who is 'it' (the tagger) yells to other children, "Mr. Daruma fell down!" When the tagger yells, the other children run as far away as possible. Then he turns his back to them. Next he calls out again, "Mr. Daruma fell down!" After that, he turns around and looks for the other children because he has to catch them.

When a child moves and is caught, he has to go to jail. The other children have to get close to the tagger and hit his back; however, they cannot move when the tagger looks at them.

Therefore, they have to run as fast as possible while the tagger's back is turned and he is yelling, "Mr. Daruma fell down!" Whenever a child hits the tagger's back, other children can escape from the jail.

When the tagger catches all but one child, the game is almost over. In that part, the tagger is given many chances to catch the child because he can yell quickly.

When the tagger has tagged everyone, a new game starts. Then, a new tagger is selected by a finger-flashing game. My friends and I used to play this game because it was exciting and we had a lot of time to play outside!


The Hunter

Mazen Al Qurawi from Saudi Arabia

When I was a child, I played a game like hide and seek with my friends. We loved that game and played it almost every day. It is called The Hunter.

It is a traditional game which was played a long time ago, so my father, my grandfather, and a lot of my relatives played it. I don't know how long it has been played, but around 50 years at least.

How to Play the Game

Here is how we played it. This game was played with five to ten children. First, we chose one player to be the hunter (to be it).

Then the hunter counted from one to ten with his or her eyes closed, so that everyone could quickly run and hide somewhere. Then he or she started searching for the other children.

If the hunter found someone from the group, the member would try to escape and the hunter started chasing him or her. Then, the hunter had to catch him or her. The hunter had to find all the members in the group and tag them.

If the hunter couldn't catch all of the members, he or she had to say, "Clear, and start over; but if the hunter caught all of them, he or she joined the other children and the first one who was caught became the new hunter.

I enjoyed this game because it was exciting and fun; we got to run and jump. Playing it, my friends and I were able to see each other a lot and have a good time together.


Sardines

Vanessa Rosenfeld from Germany

When I was a child, I loved to play a game called Sardines. Here's how to play it. As many children as are available are welcome to play the game.

The person who is 'it' has to hide; then the other children have to seek the person who is 'it' . Whenever a child finds the person who is 'it' , he or she has to hide with the person who is 'it' .

Soon, only one person is left to seek for the person who is it and all the other children. As soon as the last child, who is the loser, finds the 'it' group, the game is over. The next person who is 'it' is the loser of the first game.


Sam Pal Sun

Eun Suk Ji (Jenny) from Korea

Sam Pal Sun means the line between South Korea and North Korea. We usually play this game in a parking area. There are five people on each team, and one team is the defense team and blocks the other team to prevent them from going to the area which is marked with a flag. Cooperation among team members is the key to winning.

In this game, we can learn how to move fast and wisely and how to follow rules because we can't change the rules in any case.

If you are the defending team, each one on your team has responsibility for your own line and own section. If you can't block the other team members by tagging them, your team will lose the game.

This is a good game, not only because it is fun, but also because it gives us a lot of opportunity to learn cooperation and responsibility!


Gallinita Ciega (The Blind Hen)

Paola Martinez from Mexico

When I was a child, I played this game with my neighbors. It is a traditional game in Mexico, but it is disappearing.

To play this game, you need a handkerchief or a cloth and more than three people to play. The game starts when you choose somebody to be the hen. Then you put the handkerchief over the hen's eyes and turn the now blind hen for a few seconds.

After that, everybody runs and the blind hen has to catch somebody and gues who that person is and say what his or her name is. If the blind hen is right, that person becomes the new blind hen. If not, the hen is blindfolded again and the game continues.


Stop

Diana Travecedo from Colombia

Stop is a popular game in my country. It is very easy to play, and it's lots of fun. The game is better if it is played with many children. To play Stop, you only need a ball. To start the game, one child who is selected by the toss of a coin, takes the ball. The rest of the children stand around that child, who has to throw the ball up and say one of the children's names. The rest of the children have to run away as far as possible.

He has to say, "Stop!"

The child who is named has to get back to catch the ball. If the named child catches the ball in the air, he can immediately say another name and run away. If he doesn't catch the ball in the air, as soon as he catches the ball, he has to say, "Stop!" Then all the other children have to stop running. The one who said stop looks to see which child is near him and walks 3 long steps, and tries to hit that child with the ball by throwing it at him.

If the child who is trying to hit the other child doesn't hit him, he has to start the game again by throwing the ball up and saying another name. However, if he hits the other child with the ball, that child has to start the game.

I remember that I played this game when I was between 9 and 14 years old. I really enjoyed playing it with my friends. It was a lot of fun, and we played it frequently. Nowadays, however, children this age don't play this kind of game;maybe it is still played by 7- and 10-year olds.


Korebe

Tuncay Goksel from Turkey

The Turkish name for this game is Korebe It was a very popular game among 4- to 8-year old children. The game is played by about 5 to 10 children. At the beginning of the game, one person is chosen to be 'it' , and then the eyes of that kid are covered with a kind of blindfold. When the game starts, the person who is 'it' —the blindfolded person—tries to catch the other kids. If someone is caught, that child becomes the new 'it' , and the game starts over. Every child in Turkey knows this game!


Catch the Chicks

Tina Chang from Taiwan

This is a traditional children's game in my country. Children playing the game pretend they are an eagle, a hen, and some chicks. All the chicks stand behind the hen in a row, and the hen tries her best to protect her babies. When the game starts, the eagle tries to catch the chicks. If a chick is caught by the eagle, then the eagle wins the game, and the chick who is caught is the eagle in the next game. This game is very popular with the children in my country. It is suitable for playing in a group. I liked this game very much when I was a child.


Commander

I-Wen Hu from Taiwan

There is a traditional children's game in Taiwan. It is so popular that almost every child plays it. The rules are very simple. First, we choose a person to be a commander, who turns his back to everyone . As he counts one, two, three, everyone moves closer to him. After he finishes counting, he turns and looks at everyone. Nobody is allowed to move at that time. If somebody moves, the commander can point to that person and he is out. If someone is able to reach and touch the commander, he wins the game.


Five Session Passing

Nai-Hsin Shen from Taiwan

In my country, a game called Five Session Passing is played. Children draw lines on the ground forming 5 squares. The children are divided into two teams. Members of team one should stand on the lines which are drawn, and members of team two should stand inside the square. Those who are standing on the lines should try to touch those who are standing inside. If someone who is standing inside is touched by someone who is standing outside, he is out. When the time is up, the team which has more members left wins.


Sun and Ice

Itzel Cruz from Mexico

When I was a child, I played games outside of my house with my friends. I liked to play a game called Sun and Ice because in this game you are always running.

To play this traditional game, you form two teams. There is no age limit or limit of number of players. The players on one team run after you. When one touches you and says freeze, you can't move. You stand still until one of the players on your team comes and touches you and says sun. Then you are free to run again.


The Knife

Justin Chen from Taiwan

In Taiwan, there is a children's game called Hand Knife which is played by boys. The rules are as follow. The players divide into two groups. Each group selects a base like a wall or a tree. When the game starts, everyone uses his/her hand like a knife to touch the head or the leg of the members of the other group. If someone is touched, he/she is out.

However, the people who are out can be saved. When the connection of the hands is cut by any other member who is not out, all the members who are behind the "cut point" are saved.

The first person of each group has to touch the base of the enemy, and other members who are out have to hold the hand of the the first person in the line of people who are out. When all the members of either group are out, the other group wins.


More traditional children's games:

Special Photo Gallery: International students demonstrate games.

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