Playing in the world

“We can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” -Plato

The play has a central role in the process of child development. With the recreational activities, the child learns more about himself and others, to explore the world around them, to recognize and share social rules to be part of a group.
Playing, especially the symbolic one, helps the child to develop a useful skill for the rest of his life: empathy, or the ability to understand and comprehend each other, putting yourself in his shoes. An empathetic child knows each other, welcomes the other with all of its features, without any kind of discrimination. Playing pretend to be in distant and unknown places is a fun way to introduce children to new cultures, traditions, places, and customs. Who knows welcomes and sees diversity as a resource and not a threat.

READ ALSO: How To Teach Kids Empathy

Playing in Africa

Mosi, prevailing, tatu

Group game. Players learn to count in five different languages. In Angola, the Mbundu tribe counts «Mosi, vali, tatu, swala, talu!». In Swahili, East Africa, you count«Moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano!» In Italian, “uno, due tre quattro, cinque! “and so on. Each language is matched to a different position (arms crossed, fist raised to the sky, hands that protect the head from the rain…).

When the conductor says a number, players need to repeat it several times all together and meet in groups formed by players with that number. As a group is ready, players who make it up are silent and put themselves coupled with the language used by the conductor.

If any player fails to join a group (because there are no longer enough companions to get to the right number), they will join the remaining players, shouting the number chosen by the group, in the language used from the conductor. After two or three laps, the conductor gets replaced by a player, from among those who have not made mistakes, and so on.

Playing in Asia

Sewaipillayar Kumbiduthal

A quiet game that can be played anywhere and suitable for younger children. The players sit in a circle. One of them moves in the middle of others who ask «Yeppadi irukke?» (How are you?). If the player answers «Magizhchiya irrukken» (I am happy!), the others must do two laps turning to the right (clockwise), while if the answer is «Kavalaiya irrukken!» ( I am sad!), they must turn left (counterclockwise).

Who make errors will receive a penalty. Among the penalized players, one fellow is chosen to replace the previous one in the middle of the circle and so on. The winner will be the one who received less penalty, at the end.

Playing in Europe

Let’s Pay One, two, three stars! (Grandmother’s footsteps)

A lively game, to do in a large space. A player moves into a wall and turns his back to his companions, still side by side at twenty paces from him. The player yells «One, two, three, star!». When the sentence begins, and not before, the companions will run towards him, to stop suddenly when they hear the word, Stella.

The player against the wall finishes the sentence and whirls toward others. Who is still moving (or, being in a precarious balance, unable to sit still) is postponed on the starting line. The lone player turns back toward the wall, shouting again, “One, two, three, star!” (Pronouncing the sentence slower or faster than before) and so on.

When deemed appropriate, the player on the wall may also suddenly turn around before starting the phrase, so check that no one moves prematurely. Again, those who are caught off guard back on the starting line. The winner is the player who touches the wall first, shouting «Stella!».

Playing in Oceania


Two players stop facing each other. The first says «E hipitoitoi!» and puts his hands clenched into fists in front of him, representing one of the four signs of this game: both fists with the hidden thumb, both fists with the thumbs up, right fist with the hidden thumb and left fist with thumbs up, right fist with the thumbs and left fist with the hidden thumb. The opponent must immediately answer «Hipitoitoi!» and represent a different sign from the other.

The first repeats quickly «Hipitoitoi!» and the other show and so on. When a player makes a mistake showing the same sign, the opponent says «Hipitoitoi Ra!» earning a point. The game resumes from those who have gained the point and ending with the victory of the player who reaches ten points.

Playing in North America 

El Cantarito

A game for the little ones. The players sit in a circle and stretch their arms in front of them, holding his hands in plain sight. The conductor, in the middle of the circle, recites a nursery rhyme by touching one after another the others’ hands in rythm  «En una mesita hay un Cantarito, dime de qué color es» (On a table there is an amphora, tell me what color it is).

The player whose hand falls on the last syllable of the name of a color (for example, Blanco – white), to which the conductor continues its ride down their hands saying «¿Hai blanco sobre ti?» (Is there a white is on top of you?). If the player whose hand falls on the last syllable and has that color in his clothes lowers his hand. The game restarts with fewer hands on which to count and so on. Those who lower the second hands are out of the game. The player who remains in the race longer win.

Playing in South America

El Pescao Cao Cao

The players are arranged along two parallel rows, shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors. Each of them crosses the arms and grabs the hands of a comrade in front of him, holding them firmly. Thus it is forming a long bridge. A player on one end of the bridge where we lie on top, while the others sing repeatedly:

El pescao Cao Cao,
saliendo goes to otro lao.
El pescao Cao Cao,
saliendo goes to otro lao…

They sing raising and lowering their arms, so as to push forward the mate, letting him take the whole bridge. When the first player goes down from the bridge, another rises, and so on. As two players have crossed the bridge, they take their hands again and thus fall to be part of the side opposite the previous side. The winner is the one who has more fun.


READ ALSO: The Importance Of Play In Kids’ Life

Letizia Grasso, Educationalist
“All grown-ups were children, but few of them remember it” This phrase is engraved on my heart. The child who marvels at small things is always with me. I firmly believe that the school should focus on self-construction of knowledge through direct contact with the outside world and, therefore, through the experiences of life. A school open to life and from life itself learns. A school that teaches to observe every little thing, to wonder and to ask questions. A school that forms adults who know how to reflect and put into a relationship the mind and heart.”