Mike Spiller L.T.D.F (License to Deliver Fun)

Cultural Games

3 Down / France / Spiller Original

Back in the early 80s, I was in Paris and I saw this activity being played in a park.  Start by having all participants create a large circle. Place in the center of the circle four standing plastic bottles. Select two volunteers who will be challenged and timed to see how long they can keep 3 of the 4 bottles standing as the circled participants try to knock down the bottles as quickly as possible with supplied nerf balls. Explain to the bottle protectors that if a bottle is knocked down, they can stand it back up anywhere in the circle; but, if at

any time 3 bottles are knocked down at the same time there turn is over and the stopwatch stopped. Select two new volunteers and play again with the new bottle protectors trying to beat the best time that has been established. Teamwork by both the 2 bottle protectors

and the large circle occur making this the perfect high energy cooperative game that your group will ask to play over and over again!

10 Sticks / Native American Indian / Posted 12-1-09

This is what the Blackfoot people call a game of intuition and I was taught this while taking a Native Games class in Montana..  Each player has a bundle of 10 sticks.  One of the sticks is marked near the bottom.  Mix-up the sticks and hold them in your hand so the mark cannot be seen.  The other player will draw one stick at a time.  A stick with no mark is considered a point.  Continue drawing until the stick with the mark has been drawn or the player has successfully drawn 9 sticks.  Now it is the other players turn to draw sticks.  Each player will draw sticks 3 times.  After both have drawn 3 times, add the points to see which player had the best intuition.  If you don’t have a resource for willow sticks as seen below, use Popsicle sticks.

Achi / Africa

This game is similar to “Tic-tac-toe.”  This great game is played by two players.  One player has three white stones or markers and the other has three black ones.  The game is played on a diagram marked on the ground or on paper.  Make a playing board by making a 12 in. by 12 in. square and draw a big plus (+) sign in the center of it so to give you 4 equal squares.  Next, draw an "X" in the box do it dissects the 4 smaller squares.  You now have the game board for Achi.   All plays are made on the nine points of intersection (where the lines come together) during this game.  Players take turns in placing their markers, one at a time, on any of the nine points of the square.  The purpose is to get three in a row before your opponent can.  After the six stones are placed (and no one has won the game), players take turns in moving their stones along a line to the next available intersection.  There is no jumping of an opponent’s stone during this very old game.  Play continues until a player gets 3 of his/her pieces in a row.  A player can’t move his/her stone back and forth to the same intersection more than 2 times.  Variation:  Set up 9 chairs in the shape of the diagram and have two teams of three challenge each other with a human game of ACHI.

African Team Warm-up / Large Group Warm-up Activity / Posted 8-12-2010

For this fun warm-up activity you will need to make small teams of 3 to 5 players each and standing shoulder to shoulder.  The objective of this activity is to have the players connected at all times.  Each group will create their own series of connections for this game.  A series is - five different ways they will connect to each other.  The teacher will blow his/her whistle and the group will move to the next part of the series on each whistle.  To begin with, each group connects any way they decide.  Let’s say that my team wants to start with all of our feet or ankles touching.  On the teacher’s next whistle, we would jump ½ turn to the left and put hands on the shoulders of the player in front of us.  On the next whistle, we may jump ½ turn to the right, stand on our tip-toes with palms of our hands touching our neighbors.  On the next whistle, we might squat down into a push-up position with our legs touching.  On the next whistle, we might lower our tummies to the floor, roll over to the left onto our back and hold hands.  This might be our 5-part action series.  On the next whistle the group would jump up and start the series again.  The action starts slow, but as the groups become comfortable with the series the whistle will be blown faster and faster.  Can your group continue to function as the action becomes quicker?

Antelope / Team Challenge / Native American Indian / Posted 8-12-2010

Divide the group in half.  Have one group go to the end of the playing area and the other to the opposite end.  The distance between teams should be at least the length of a basketball court and longer if possible.  A football field is perfect for this challenge.  The object of this team activity is to get your team over the opposite team’s line before they can cross yours.  On the signal to go, the players run or power-walk to the opposite goal, but they are also trying to slow-down and/or block their opponents along the way.  No physical contact is allowed during this challenge.

Beans on Toast / Team Game /  UK  / Posted 8-12-2010        

This is a game from the UK.  Split the group into two teams.  Draw a central line between the two teams.  In the UK, they us a bench to stand on, but in the US I use a tumbling mat.  Place a mat on both ends of the gym behind each team.  One player from each team goes to stand on the opposite mat.  The ball is thrown into the center and whoever gets it then tries to throw it to their team member on the mat.  If they succeed, they join the person on the mat.  If they don’t, the ball automatically goes to the other team.  A team wins this game when the whole team gets onto the mat.  Maybe a good name for this activity would be “Beans on Toast” a favorite meal in the UK.  First team to get all their beans on one mat (toast) wins.

Card Toss / Navajo Indian Game / Posted 12-2-09

I came across this Navajo card game while doing research in the resource dept. of the Navajo Cultural Center in Window Rock, Arizona a few years ago.  It is a simple game of elimination with the winner taking the prize/ s put up by all that play.  Seven players take one card each from the deck and places them into a basket - making sure they remember the card they selected.  The basket is shaken to mix-up the cards well and then all cards are tossed into the air.  All the players look for their card.  If their card is face down - they are out of the game.  If a players card is face up, he/she is still in the challenge.  Place the winning cards in the basket again and repeat the action.  Play until there is a single winner.  If all cards are face down near the end of the tossing - nobody wins and the game starts from the beginning once more.  This game was found in the "Navajo Games & Cultural Activities Book" and was reported by Stella Tsinajinnie.

Cherokee Flip Stick / Posted 12-1-09

This game was taught to me by a member of the Cherokee nation and he said it was taught to him by his grandfather.  This is a great rainy day activity as it combines making game pieces with the playing of a unique Native American game.  Begin by providing each participant with a craft stick and instructing them that by using either markers or paint (your choice) they are to color or paint a
design(s) on one side of their craft stick.  Upon completion of this initial activity, have all participants form small groups with group members standing in a circle.  Explain that on a set command all participants toss their sticks up into the air and that when the sticks land if the painted side is up (visible), that individual is still in the game.  Those whose sticks are face down are unfortunately out of the game.  Play continues in this fashion until only one player is left . . . the Cherokee Flip Stick champion!

Dara – A Game from Africa / Posted 12-8-09

For this African game you will need a smooth patch of earth, a sidewalk, or large piece of paper; a stick, a piece of chalk, or a pencil; 12 counters, such as beans or pebbles, for each player.   To make the game, construct a grid of five by six circles as seen below.  Scratch it on the ground or in the sand, mark it in chalk on cement, or draw it on paper.  To play this African game, each player places his/her 12 pieces in the circles on the playing grid.  Initially, each player cannot have more than two playing pieces in adjacent circles.  Players take turns moving their playing pieces one space at a time.  This can be done in any direction, including diagonally.  Unlike in checkers, jumping is not allowed.  The goal is to place three pieces in a vertical or horizontal row, as shown.  When this is accomplished, a player may remove one of his/her opponent’s pieces.  The game is over when one player is no longer able to line up three playing pieces, or when all of a player’s game pieces have been removed.

Dithwai / Posted 3-29-10

Dithwai is an outdoor game popular among the children in the African country of Lesotho. It could easily be adapted to an indoor game by making a kraal with Lego or similar.  Aim: To have the most stones in your kraal at the end of the game.
1. To play Dithwai, each player builds a cattle kraal in the dirt. It should be about 20cm (8 inches) square and 3cm (1 inch) high. Small sticks could be used or just push the dirt up to form a fence. An African kraal is the place where cattle are kept. It is a small area with a fence around it.
2. Each player places ten stones in his kraal. These represent his cattle. The first player studies his stones carefully before saying to the others, "Let me examine my cattle." The others then answer, "Have you looked at them?"
3. The first player then covers his eyes while the other players each take one of his stones and put it in their kraals.
4. The first player then opens his eyes and tries to recognize the stones which were taken from his kraal. If he is correct he can take back his stones but if he is wrong the other player gets to keep the stones.
5. The next player continues the game.
6.  The winner is the player with the most stones at the end of the game.

Face-to-Face Bean Challenge / Posted 5-11-2010

Have two teams face each other.  Each player should be directly across from another player.  The teacher will show the players that he/she has 10 beans in his/her hand.  The teacher will turn around and place X number of beans in a single hand.  The teacher then turns around and asks if the 2 players are ready.  Both players should be concentrating on the teachers closed fist.  When the fist is opened, the players try to yell out the number of beans it will take to make 10.  If the hand had 6 beans in it, a player tries to be the 1st to yell out 4!  If the hand had only 2 beans in it, a player would want to yell out 8!  The first to give the correct number gets the point.  The teacher then goes to the next two players and repeats the process.  A point is once again awarded and the teams keep score.  First team to 10 wins the game.

Flying Cola Can / Playground - Pick-up Game / Belize / Posted 8-1-2-2010

This flying cola can is a huge hit with most of the students and can be used in many activities.  I first saw this flying can in Belize, Central America.  I was amazed at the way this simple toy attracted so many people.  How to make: Using a flat, metal file, file the top edges of the can until the center can be lifted out.  Using scissors cut the can 1-inch up from the bottom.  Put masking tape around the bottom edge for safety.  How to make it fly: Put the can in your hand just like you would a football.  Make sure the filed end is forward.  Toss the can with a slight spiral action.  It will take players several tries to figure out how they need to throw it.  For example, when I throw it, it goes down and to the right.  If I want to throw to a target or person, I must throw high and to the left in order to make a good toss.  This is a very durable toy and I have introduced it to many other countries.  Try catching it on a Lummi Stick or play Cola Can Golf (scatter hula-hoops around the playground to toss to).

Goat / Buck in the Kraal / South Africa / Posted 12-1-09

This game is played outdoors in an open, dirt field.  Take a stick and mark a large circle in the dirt.  The circle and be any size, but usually, it is about 30 feet in diameter.  Select 2 players to be the hunters for the 1st round of play.  All the other players are the goats / bucks and are inside the circle / kraal.  The hunters take turns throwing a ball to hit the players in the circle.  In Africa the game is usually played with a tennis ball or rag ball.  I play the game today using a beach ball.  The hunters can throw from anywhere outside the circle, but can't hold the ball for more than 10 seconds.  If a hunter hits a goat / buck, this player will come stand next to the hunter that hit him.  Then it is the other hunters turn.  The bucks are hunted until the last buck is shot.  the hunter with the most goat / bucks is the winner.  The last 2 players that were hit will become the new hunters for the next round. 

Kap-Kap (Chop Chop) / South Africa / Posted 12-1-09

This is a game for 2 players. Each player needs several coins to toss during this challenge.  Kap-Kap is played anywhere at anytime and is always a great way to pass the time.  A straw or small stick is tossed out in front of the 2 players a short distance away.  Each player stands behind a line drawn in the dirt and tries to hit the stick with a toss of their coin.    The coin nearest to the straw is not necessarily the winner because the heads and tails of the coin also influence the game.  If both coins land on heads or tails, the person whose coin was nearest to the stick takes both coins.  If one coin lands on heads and the other on tails, they each keep their coin.  The game ends when one player has no money left. 

Klip Speltjie / Posted 3-28-10

When the people of South Africa say the word “Klip,” they mean a rock.   While I was in the village of Karkhams, the children taught me this fun game.  It is a game of hiding the stone/rock under a can.  I like to use the shells that I found on the “Diamond Coast.”  Make a grid for the race track.  This could be etched into the dirt like we did in the village or it could be marked on a poster board.  If you have a long table, use chalk and draw lines across it for the race.  If you want, you can make it a circular race from start to finish with about 12 sections marked-off in the circle (see below).  Each player will select an item to move around the race track.  It could be a larger stone, a coin or anything you wish.  All items begin at the “START LINE.”  One player will place the stone under one of the three cans/shells without the other watching.  When ready, the player turns around and tries to guess which can/shell the stone is under.  He will place three fingers next to the can he thinks has the stone.  If he is correct, he moves his item up three places on the grid.  Now, it is the other players turn to do the same thing.  Play until one of the player’s item crosses the “Finish Line.”  This can be played with several students as well.

Mbube, Mbube / Posted 3-28-10
Imbube is one of the Zulu words for "lion." "Mbube" is addressing the lion, calling to him. Sort of pronounced like: mboo'-bay. In this game the lion is stalking the impala (a southern African buck).All players form a circle. Two players start the game. One is the lion, one is the impala. Blindfold them both and spin them around. (Children used to just close their eyes, but the temptation to peek is so great!)Players in the circle start by calling the lion, "mbube, mbube!"The closer to the impala the lion gets the faster the chanting becomes. Likewise if the lion is far away the calling decreases, in volume as well as repetition. If the lion has not caught the impala within a minute a new lion is chosen. If the lion catches the impala, a new impala is chosen.

No’a / Traditional Hawaiian Game / Posted 12-7-09

Hawaiians like to play a game called no’a.  It was a guessing game.  There were two sides. Five people sat across from another five.  There were five (5) bundles of different colored kappa between the sides.  When I play the game today I use place mats or table mats.  The no’a was a small round stone no bigger than a quarter.  One player hid the no’a under one of the kapa bundles.  The other side had to guess which bundle the no’a was under.  Every player had a wooden stick or wand.  He pointed to the bundle with the stick.  If he guessed right, he got a point.  The team that got the most points after a set number of tries was the winner.  Sometimes the Hawaiians played this game a bit differently.  They saw who could point to the most bundles without finding the one with the no’a.  Today, I give each player a different color bean bag and this is used instead of the sticks to make their guesses.  This is a great rainy day game and builds nice observation skills. 
Information about Kapa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapa

Pakistan Sticks / Pakistan / Posted12-1-09

Make a circle about 2 feet across on the playing surface.  Place 6 round sticks randomly in the circle.  Mark a throwing line 10 to 15 feet from the circle.  Each player takes a turn tossing the 2 balls at the sticks in the circle.  Each player is trying to knock the sticks out of the circle for points.  Award 5 points for each stick knocked completely out of the circle.  After each player’s turn, replace all the sticks for the next player’s turn.  Play to a pre-set number of points.  Today, I put ten 1/2 swim noodles in the jump circle on the basketball court and use basketballs to throw.  The kids really like this simple game.


Peteca / Brazil / Spiller Original

I learned of this sport back in the 80s and have enjoyed teaching it to others around the world.  In early 2003, I took a trip to Rio where I knew that Peteca was much loved activity.  While there, I played the game on the beaches and in the school yards with the natives. Peteca is the South American version of Hacky Sac. The unique twist to this activity is that instead of using feet, participants use hands. Have participants form teams of 6-10 participants. The object of the game is to see how many consecutive hits the group can amass before the Peteca hits the ground. Begin by having one player strike and put into the air the Peteca with an open hand. Other players try to keep the Peteca up in the air counting 1 point for each hit. Once the Peteca hits the ground, the hit count stops and the

group starts the activity over again.  This product can be purchased from Mike on this website / Native American Games.