What time do you look forward to each day? While the exact time varies from person to person, the moment is the same for many. When school is out, homework is done, and chores are completed, it's finally here: time to play!
When you get the go-ahead to enjoy some play time to yourself, what do you do? Some kids will head to the nearest video game console or handheld electronic device. Others may pull a board game off the shelf or look for a friend to play cards.
Those looking for some exercise may grab a ball and play sports. Kids who live near many of their friends may organize a large group to play a game, such as tag or hide and seek. At one time or another, you've probably done all of these things.
But what about kids in other countries? Foreign languages and foods can seem so different from what we're used to. Other cultures obviously have their own traditions and ways of doing things. Does that tendency extend to the games their kids play, too?
If you were suddenly plucked out of your school and plopped down on the playground of another school in a foreign country, it might not take you long at all to find common ground with your new friends. Sure, there are many differences between different cultures, but there are also many similarities that are often shared.
Some of the most popular kids' games, such as tag or hide and seek, have a universal appeal. Although they may go by different names in different countries, you'll find versions of these games in many different countries all over the globe.
Likewise, certain sports seem to have a universal appeal. If you're a soccer fan, you're in luck. Often considered the most popular sport worldwide, you could visit countries on every continent and have no trouble finding friends who'll be happy to join you in kicking a ball into a net.
While it might be easy to find similar games you're familiar with, some countries do have their own unique games that are popular with children. Let's take a look at a few examples from around the world:
If you find yourself at a party in the United Kingdom, you might get to play Pass the Parcel! An adult will wrap a simple gift in multiple layers of wrapping paper or newspaper. The more layers you use, the more fun you can have. Children then stand or sit in a circle and pass the parcel around while music is playing. When the music stops, the person holding the parcel removes one layer of wrapping. This continues until the final layer of wrapping is removed, at which point the player unwrapping the final layer gets to keep the gift.
If you were to visit Israel in the summer, you might find children playing Go-Go-Im with the small, smooth pits of fresh apricots (known as go-gos). Players use shoe boxes that have had six holes cut into the top. The holes vary in size, from barely bigger than an apricot pit to very large. Each hole is given a point value that corresponds to how difficult it is to toss a pit into the hole. These point values can range from one (largest hole) to 100 (smallest hole). Children carry around their boxes full of pits, challenging one another to matches in which they take turns tossing their pits into the holes in their boxes.
In China, large groups of children enjoy gathering together to play Catch the Dragon's Tail. After forming a human chain by getting in line and placing their hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them, the leader of the line plays the dragon's head and tries to tag the dragon's tail, which is played by the last child in line. The task is made more difficult by the fact that the children behind the dragon's head try to prevent the dragon's head from catching the tail. When the head catches the tail, the children switch positions, so that everyone gets a chance to be either the head or the tail.