Lesson plan - games around the world


Investigation, discussion and play – Students learn that the games of yesterday are similar to the games played today and play traditional games that enabled children to acquire survival skills.


  • To broaden the student’s knowledge of the variety of games played children around the world
  • To compare the similarities and differences between traditional and contemporary children’s games
  • To develop the students understanding of how children’s games and their variations have been passed on through generations and around the world
  • To develop the students understanding that some traditional/cultural games were played to encourage life skills.


  • Set a homework task requiring students to find out the types of games played by their parents and/ or grandparents in their childhood
  • Read the ‘Background Sheet’ (for rules of the games)
  • Newspaper to work on.
  • Examples of equipment used in traditional games such as rock, sticks, elastics, chalk and dried out knuckle bones.

What to do

  1. As a whole class discuss the homework activity about the games played by the family in their childhood
  2. Make comparisons to the games students play today. Discuss the equipment used and where the games are played
  3. Use a large Venn diagram to record similarities and differences during the discussion
  4. Circulate the traditional games equipment and allow the children to discuss what they think they are used for and how they think the games are played
  5. Bring the class together and list the student’s ideas and responses to the equipment
  6. Ask the students ‘How did you know what this was used for and how to use it?’ Direct them to generalise that games can be passed on by family and friends
  7. Revisit the equipment and discuss ‘Why did people use rocks, sticks and dried out animal bones in their games?’
  8. Teach and play the Native American games of Keeper of the Fire and Patterns (see Background sheet)
  9. After playing the game/s discuss:
    • Do you think these games are important to the Native American, why/ why not?
    • What life skills do you the think the children were learning as they played these games?
    • What other cultures used games to develop life skills in children?

Extension activities

  • Invite parents and grandparents into the classroom to discuss the games they played as a child
  • Split the class into groups and have rotations of games around the world, playing similar games with the variations from different countries
  • Incorporate games from around the world into morning fitness, physical education or sport session.

Background sheet

Native American Games

Keeper of the Fire

Aim: To remove sticks from the fire keeper without getting caught.

Equipment: sticks or rulers, a blindfold.

One player is the fire keeper who sit blindfolded with their hands in their lap. The hands cannot move until he hears a raider taking the sticks for the fire.

The fire keeper can be in the centre of a circle or a given distance away from the class.

One a time the students stealthily sneak up (raid) the firewood and steal one stick at a time.

The fire keeper is dependent on the sense of hearing and can only tag the raider with his or her hands.

The raider becomes the fire keeper if caught.

Patterns/ Coloured Stones

Aim: To correctly copy a pattern.

Equipment: coloured counters and shapes (coloured stones were traditionally used) and a cloth.

One player arranges the stones in a pattern.

After a given time, cover the pattern with a cloth.

Students try to recreate the pattern under the cloth.

This game can be adapted according to the age and skills of the students by varying the number and colours of the counters, the complexity of the patterns and the time allowed for observation and copying the pattern.

Adapted from a Living in Harmony Funded Project, ‘All Together Now’, Churches’ Commission on Education, WA, 1999.