The Children's Folk Games Project asks youngsters around the world to describe the games they play. According to the site, traditional children's games are syncretic: they combine rhymes, tunes, gestures, movement and the act of play. Some of the games submitted by Greek children are variations on games that are familiar to North Americans, such as hopscotch or "Grandmother Sleeping," a hide-and-seek game.
Hopscotch as played by children in Greece requires a piece of chalk, a small rock, and two or more players. Draw eight squares on the ground, one on the left and one on the right, to form a rectangle. Place the rock before the first square and try to push it into the square while jumping on one leg. Whichever side you start on, left or right, push the rock to the opposite side, which allows you to move to that square. The player loses if she pushes the rock outside the boundaries of the square she wants to move into. (See References 1)
This traditional Greek game uses stones instead of jacks. Find five small, round stones. Throw them on the ground, then pick one up. Throw it in the air and quickly grab one of the others, at the same time catching the falling stone. Keep going until you have picked up all of the stones one by one. Next, pick up two stones at a time, then three, and so on until you've picked up all four at one time. If you are playing with more than one person, the player who fails to pick up the stones loses his turn. (See References 2)
Grandmother Sleeping, which can be played by two or more children, is an imaginative version of hide and seek, played around a tree. The child pretending to be the grandmother of the other children starts to tell them a story, then dozes off. After a while she wakes up and tries to find the other children, and the first child she finds becomes the grandmother for the next round. (See References 3)
The students who submitted this game suggest that players should be older than five. The game requires a large space and a mattress for every three players. One or two children are the sharks. The children on the mattresses must keep moving to other mattresses, looking for food, before the shark catches them. No more than three children can be on a single mattress at a time, or they will “sink the boat.” (See References 4)
The King ("Vasilias")
In this game, the players draw lots to decide which one becomes king. The king sits apart and the other players decide what profession they will mime for the king. When a player visits the king, she exchanges the following dialogue with “him” before she mimes her profession:
Player: King, king with the 12 swords, what's your job? King: Doing nothing! Player: And the change? King: Ice-cream. Player: Granny said that you should have a job. King: What job?
If the king knows the profession that has been mimed, he calls it out and chases the other players to catch one, who then becomes the king. (See References 5)
Elise Moore has a master's degree in English. She enjoys writing about party planning and has greatly expanded her knowledge of the visual and plastic arts while researching articles for various websites.