Experience different cultures through play with your little ones!
Children love to play and connect with others. You can positively help impact your kiddos’ cross-cultural friendships and cultivate a welcoming global perspective through the power of play! Introduce them to games that other kids from around the world entertain themselves with to give them a reason to talk and bond with others through something fun.
Fostering cross-cultural understanding in our little ones is high on our list of priorities at GoBe Kids. We want to raise kind, empathetic kiddos that see the value of diversity and are able to relate to others regardless of differences in dress, what we eat, or what we look like. If you can’t take them on a trip around the world, why not bring the world to your living room? Here are some of our favorite worldly games to unleash your inner child!
🇲🇦 Morocco: Dinifri
Dinifri is a Moroccan game commonly played by elementary students. Similar to the American game ‘Jenga,’ Dinifri involves stacking blocks and attempting to maintain a higher “tower” of blocks than your opponent(s). Unlike Jenga, Dinifrialso encourages players to knock down as many of their opponent’s blocks as they can to ensure that their tower is the highest!
This game is bound to get some laughs and also helps get the kiddos moving since it involves throwing a small ball.
How to Play:
- Find an area with lots of space; whether that be the floor, a clean tabletop, or even somewhere outdoors.
- Grab some tape or chalk and create two squares, a mini square inside of a larger one.
- Get creative with your stacking materials. You can use legos, rocks, jenga pieces, toilet paper rolls - anything that can be stacked relatively easily (and that’s not a safety hazard).
- Split into teams if there are more than 2 players. Set a 1 minute timer and let the teams stack a tower as high as they can. Let them come up with their own strategies for taking advantage of the short amount of time they have; should they choose one team member to be in charge of stacking or should it be a group effort?
- After each team makes a tower, take turns throwing a small ball at the opposite team’s tower, and each block that falls counts as a point for the team that threw the ball (unless they accidentally hit their own tower, then it counts as points for the other team). Again, you can be as creative as you want with the materials - if you don’t have a small ball, try crumpling up a piece of paper. Make sure you’re using something of soft material just in case someone misses the tower and hits someone else.
- Count up each team’s points and declare a winner!
🇨🇳 China: Cat & Mouse
Cat and Mouse is a super fun game similar to but slightly more complicated than Duck Duck Goose. Since it requires no materials, it’s a great game to play when you need to unexpectedly entertain your little ones - like on a day the power goes out or at a layover at the airport.
How to Play:
- Have everyone hold hands in a circle except for two players. One of those players will be Mouse, and they will stand on the inside of the circle. The other player will be Cat and stand on the outside of the circle.
- Have the players standing in a circle spin until you say “stop!”. Once the circle stops, the chase is on! Cat must catch Mouse - but has to follow Mouse’s every footstep exactly how they did it, weaving in and out of the circle.
- Once Cat catches Mouse, you can either designate a new pair or have the old Cat become the new Mouse. Happy playing!
🇨🇦 Canada: Crokinole
Crokinole is a popular board game played by both children and adults in Canada. It’s a great way to entertain some of our older kiddos as a relaxing after school activity and is a must-have on family Game Night! The board has designated “zones” with assigned point values to try to get little mini hockey pucks into. Each player has different color hockey pucks and must not only try to stop the opponent from going into the high-point zones, but must also avoid and get through different obstacles built within the game.
The original patented Crokinole can be purchased online with the full original instructions included. If you’d rather work with what you have, you can use materials and toys in your home to create a similar concept and get creative! You could substitute the traditional crokinole board with a posterboard, and you can use a sharpie to draw on the zones. Start by drawing a small circle in the center of the poster which will be the zone with the highest point value. Then, draw another slightly larger circle around that one, and continue this process until there’s no more room to draw any circles. The closer you are to the center circle, the higher point value you have! For the mini hockey pucks, there’s so many possibilities: small candies/snacks like skittles, M&Ms, goldfish or pieces from other games like checkers, dice, or toy coins.
🇩🇰 Denmark: Gemme Fingerbøl
Gemme Fingerbøl, which translates to “hide the thimble”, is a perfect indoors game to play at birthday parties or holiday celebrations! It traditionally involves a thimble, but you can get creative and use other items lying around the house; like your little one's favorite toy car, a cookie, or even something bigger like a shoe. The objective of the game is to have one person hide the item somewhere around the house, and the first person to find it wins!
How to Play:
- Pick the item that will be hidden and who will be hiding it.
- Decide as a group whether the item will be hidden partially or fully.
- The person who hid the item can give clues to the group until someone finds it. That person then becomes in charge of hiding the item in the next round!
- Repeat as many times as you want!
🇦🇺 Australia: Stick in the Mud
Stick in the Mud is an endorphin-inducing running game that is best played outdoors and with at least 4 people - but don’t worry, it’s not as messy as it sounds! This game is similar to freeze tag but the twist is you can be “unfrozen” if a free player crawls between your feet. Once you’ve been tagged, you have to be like a stick in the mud and stay in the exact position you were tagged in. Keep playing until all players are frozen except one!
How to Play:
- Identify the player that will be “it”. If the kiddos haven’t come to a decision on their own, let everyone play a game of rock, paper, scissors to fairly narrow it down!
- Ready, Set, Go!Have the player who’s “it” chase after the other players.
- Players who get tagged freeze in place.
- Players who are still free keep running and have the option to free a frozen player by sliding under their feet. You can’t be tagged while under someone’s feet!
- The game is over when all players are frozen but 1.
🇵🇪 Peru: Sapo
If you’re looking for a game to show off your great aim, Sapo is the game for you! Named after the Sapo frog, this game involves tossing coins into a small slot in the mouth of a frog statue or figurine. Alternatively, a box with a slot cut-out could work.
How to Play:
- Each player gets 3 chances to get the coin into the slot per turn. You can play 3, 5, or 7 rounds. The player who wins the most rounds at the end is the game winner!
- Some versions of the game have additional obstacles like tossing the coin down a slide and into the slot, so it’s up to you if you’d like to include that or not.
- Whoever gets the most coins in by the final round, wins. Happy playing!
The future is diverse - and raising culturally aware, compassionate humans is one of the best things we can do for our kids and for the planet. Diversifying our children’s experiences and worldview from a young age will allow for their social, emotional, and moral growth which will show up in their lives in many ways down the line. We want to teach our kids to be well-rounded allies and to not only appreciate but welcome other cultures. Creating a culturally immersive childhood is a great way to instill this sense of inclusivity into our little ones!
Thank you for taking this trip around the world with us. We salute you for all the hard work you put in to give your kiddos the opportunity to thrive and grow into well-rounded adults. Please share fun ways you and your family celebrate other cultures at home by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or dropping us a DM on Instagram!
- Sofia, GoBe Team