Ever wondered how children in Singapore kept themselves entertained before smartphone and tablet came into our lives? Here are some simple yet fun games that most Singaporean adults would be familiar with. Introduce these traditional play activities to your kids!
Equipment/toys: Feathered shuttlecock usually with a flat base made out of a rubber disc.
How to play: You have to keep the shuttlecock in the air for as long as possible by kicking it up with the heel of your foot (no hands allowed). Some advanced players use both feet alternatively while others show off fancy moves along the way. Or – like Western footbag, a.k.a. hacky sack – you can play this game as a group in a circle.
Benefits: You need dexterity and balance to keep up with the game, so keep your eyes on the chapteh!
Five Stones (Batu Seremban)
Equipment/toys: Five tiny pyramid-shaped “bean bags” filled with seeds, rice or sand.
How to play: With all five “stones” on the ground (or table), throw one stone into the air, pick up another stone from the ground before catching the first stone with the same hand. Continue until all five stones are in your palm. In the next round, you will have to pick two stones at a time, followed by three, four and five.
Benefits: The main idea of the game is to catch the falling bag in time, utilising hand-eye coordination, alertness and focus.
Tok Kah (one-legged catching)
How to play: This playground game is essentially a variation of the game of tag (known as “catching” locally). As the name suggests, players hop on one leg and try to tag others. This game is among the favourite options when kids used to gather at the void decks after school for an afternoon with fun with neighbours.
Benefits: Balance, agility, and speed — you can’t win the game without these three elements.
Equipment/toys: Marbles and a flat surface (usually the ground or on the sand).
How to play: Draw a circle on the ground or in the sand.
Each player will place a marble in it, and draw lines a few feet away from the circle to mark the boundary. All the players stand behind the boundary and throw their marbles at the ones in the circle. If you manage to push a marble out of the circle’s boundary, you get to keep it.
Benefits: In order to displace your opponent’s marbles in the circle, you need some skills, accuracy, and a little bit of practice. You can’t throw them too hard or aim at a group of marbles that are clustered too closely.
Equipment/toys: Brightly coloured transparent plastic tokens in the shape of objects or animals (elephants, monkeys, birds, and more).
How to play: Two players face each other and with the tokens on the floor (or table). Taking turns to flip your token pieces, the aim is to land your piece on top of your opponent’s. If you succeed, you get to keep your opponent’s token piece.
Benefits: As this game requires skills and accuracy, it keeps kids occupied and encourages interaction and some strategising.
Equipment/toys: A long flexible rope made of rubber bands. Watch how they are made here.
How to play: Two players hold the rope at both ends, starting low at the ankle level. The challenger jumps over the rope without touching it. The rope is raised after each successful attempt until it reaches the highest point – slightly above the heads of the people holding the rope. The general consensus is that your body is allowed to come into contact with the rope once it is at the waist level and above.
Benefits: This physical game will test your flexibility and jumping skills, and you will definitely break out a sweat!
Watch the video below with your kids! Which would be their favourite game?
A version of this article first appeared in The Finder.