This month, we’re working at an orphanage called Cambodian Hope Association. I’ve had so much fun playing with these kids. When you’re in foreign countries, with no Nintendo or computers, you have to get creative with the games that you play.
So today, I thought I’d share some of the games that I’ve learned in my time traveling across the world. The best part about these games is that you’ll be able to find everything that you need right where you are! Great for youth groups.
The Flying Ship (Moldova)
Duck-duck-goose gone wild!
Number of Players: At least ten, the more the merrier!
Materials: A large field
- Everyone joins hands together, forming a large circle.
- Two people hold hands outside the circle. This pair walks around the circle, then chooses another pair by touching their linked hands.
- These two people that they choose have to keep their hands locked and run the opposite direction around the circle (be careful where the two pairs cross paths!). Both pairs try to make it back to the open spot in the circle before the other.
- Whichever pair does not get there first becomes the pair who walks around the circle and chooses the hands of the next two people. A great game for big groups!
New School Tic-Tac-Toe
Equipment: Four pieces (usually rocks are used) of two contrasting colors
Create a board by making a square, then dividing the square in half horizontally and vertically. Then draw two diagonals to connect the two opposite corners. Boards can be made with pencil and paper, but to play like an African go outside and draw a Achi board in the dirt.
- Decide which colors to play and who will start first
- Each player drops one piece per turn on any vacant space on the board. “Spaces” are any of the intersecting points in the figure. Players alternate turns until all four pieces have been dropped.
- On your turn, each player moves one space at a time following the pattern. The first player who gets three of their pieces in a row – horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, wins!
Five Stones (Malawi)
A classic African game similar to marbles that you can play anywhere!
Number of players: 2 to 5
Materials: Five small stones
- Make a small fist-sized indentation in the dirt, then place five stones next to it.
- On your turn, hold one stone in your hand, then throw it into the air, then grab one stone from the pile and move it out of the indentation, and then catch the stone you threw into the air.
- If you do this successfully, repeat with throwing one stone in the air, moving two stones from the pile to the indentation, then catching the one stone again.
- If you do that successfully, repeat with moving three stones to the indentation; then three, four, five and then all the way back down to one.
- As soon as you are unsuccessful at catching the stone you threw or moving the right number of stones into the indentation, your turn ends.
Below, a young African girl is playing this game, looking upward to catch the stone that she threw.
The Spitting Frog (Cambodia)
Number of players: Five or more
- Form a large circle, with one person standing on the outside and one person sitting in the middle.
- Everyone closes their eyes, and then the person on the outside of the circle walks around the circle and taps someone on the back who becomes the “Frog.”
- The person walking around the circle then sits down at his/her original spot and tells everyone to open their eyes.
- The frog “kills” people by sticking their tongue out at them. When the frog sticks his tongue out at you, you must immediately groan and slump over, dead.
- The person in the middle has to figure out who the frog is, with only three guesses.
A fast-moving card game that is a lot of fun!
Number of players: 4
Materials: Deck of cards
- Deal everyone six cards, and the dealer gets seven cards, with the rest of the cards face-down in the middle of the table.
- Look at your hand, then put down any pairs that you have face up on the table.
- The dealer starts by laying down one card, face-up on the table in front of them (A king, for example). Then anyone who has that card puts it down (king), and then one other card of their choice (a 3) face-up on the table in front of them. Anyone who has that card (a 3) puts it down, and then lays another card of their choice face-up (a 7). Only the first person who puts that number on the table can play.
- If no one has the card, then the dealer deals a card from the middle stack face-up in front of one of the players, which becomes the card that everyone else must match.
- Once you are down to one card, it must be matched by a card that someone else lays down.
- The winner is the first person to run out of cards.
Before I went off to school, my dad always used to ask me: “Kelly, what’s the most important thing?” and I would always respond: “To have fun!” I’m excited to go home in a few weeks and teach these games to my family. Have fun playing these games – when you try them, comment below and let me know how it goes!