Games and School Ideas

Diversity: Games and School Ideas

Games are good ways to share other cultures. These games originated in different countries.

TAKRAW: The National Game of Thailand
Takraw is similar to the U.S. game hackeysack. A takraw is a ball about the size of a grapefruit, and it’s quite hard. Hackeysack balls aren’t’t as hard and I don’t recommend using a hard ball… The Takraw is made from woven rattan. Players stand in a circle and pass the ball around, using their heads, feet, legs, and shoulders. They can’t use their hands.
Thais love to play this game. Takraw games often break out on the street among strangers waiting for a boat or a bus. The game might draw 40 or 50 people before the boat or bus arrives to take away some of the players.

CATCHING STARS  (Similar to Mr. Fox) This game was developed in AFRICA…

  • Divide the players into two groups: Stars and Catchers. Set up two boundaries about twenty feet apart.
  • Catchers: Stand in the middle of the two boundaries
  • Stars: Stand on one side of the boundaries
  • Catchers: Say “star light, star bright, how many stars are out tonight.”
  • Stars: Say “more than you can catch!”
  • The stars run across to the other end and try not to get tagged. The winner is the last person to get caught.


#1 Idea This can be part of a multicultural theme that includes many activities. Invite members of the community from other countries to talk about and demonstrate the games they played as youth.

#2 Idea Acting as coaches, have  9-14 year olds organize and put on a multi-cultural game tournament for younger children.


Kids really like this game! Directions seem long-but it is NOT complicated)
Mancala is a game that has been around for centuries. Forms of this game were played in ancient Africa and Asia. There are many different names, boards and rules of play for Mancala. . . but most are played on wooden boards with beads, stones or glass game pieces. Children in Africa would play by scooping holes in the dirt to create a game board.

  •  This version is one that you make with a Styrofoam egg carton, two applesauce cups, pudding cups, or similar containers, and dried beans. Of course, you can use anything for game pieces, beads, pennies, or anything small and easy to scoop!
  • You will need 48 dried beans to start the game – 4 in each cup. Two people play at a time.

Set up:
Place the board between the two players so that the long sides face the players- and the two small containers (Mancala cups) are on the right and left. You will have six cups of beans facing each player. Place 4 beans in each cup. Each player has a Mancala cup – which is the applesauce cup on their LEFT. This cup is where they put the beans they collect.

Object of the game:
Each player takes a turn and tries to collect as many beans as possible in their Mancala cup before the other player clears their side of the board.

How to play:
One player starts. In his or her turn, they pick up all of the beans from one cup on their side of the board- Then – going clockwise- they place one bean at a time in each cup- including their Mancala (collection cup) until they run out of beans.


  • If you go first and pick up all the beans in the cup on the far left- you would drop one bean in your Mancala (collection) cup and one bean each in the cups on the other side of the board.
  • You must put one bean in each and every cup you pass over- EXCEPT for the opponent’s Mancala cup. You just skip that cup.
  • If the last bean a player has drops into their Mancala cup, they get to go again! (Strategy here would tell you to start with the fourth cup from the left. . . which would let you drop your last bean into your Mancala. . . then you get another turn.
  • Also – in this version of the game, if you drop the last bean into a cup that already contains beans– you pick up all the beans in that cup and keep going.
  • Your turn ends when you place the last bean into an empty cup! Then, it’s the other players turn.
  • The game ends when one player has no more beans left in the cups on their side of the board. The player with the most beans in their Mancala cup wins!


5 or more players, ages 5 and up, played outdoors in the winter.

Players prepare the course for the game, consisting of a maze of parts in the snow over a field or ice. The parts should be wide enough for one person to run on, about one meter wide.

What follows is a simple game of tag played in lanes in the snow. Players must stay on the paths always, but the person who is it may jump from path to path in pursuit of his opponents.

This imaginative modification of tag in the winter could lead players to inventing their own unique games for the winter season. The Scottish people did just that when they invented curling from the summer game of bowls. Source: Thunder Bay Multicultural Association

SEE GAMES OF CHINA in the Chinese New Year Category!

***Excellent Book List for Multi-Cultural Themed Games and Activities!


This is what one group of third to fifth graders in Minnesota did for a Service-Learning Project…
After much discussion about the cultures represented within their classrooms, 3rd through 5th graders grew curious about their neighborhood. What cultural groups were represented in the households and local businesses? How did the community affect — and how was it affected by — these groups? What makes a neighborhood?

Armed with notebooks and pens, homemade cameras (made in science class), and tape recorders, the students walked around the neighborhood on several different days. They enhanced their observations with research and interviews, reading about the history of migration to the area, sampling levels of pollution to determine how that affects the community, and talking with experts from prominent local businesses. The students, especially the English Language Learners, greatly increased their language proficiency through daily journaling.

Excited by the wealth of information they had learned, children wanted to share their knowledge with the greater community. They produced large-scale drawings of their observations and mounted this artwork in their classroom, creating a neighborhood cultural museum. People from all over the city responded to the posters the students made advertising the temporary museum and attended the grand opening celebration.

Through their many walks, youth discovered the richness of their neighborhood’s past and present. Through their design of a cultural museum, they became a part of that community legacy.
Adapted from “Route to Reform: K-8 service-learning Curriculum Ideas,” © 1994-95 National Youth Leadership Council.

2. ACADEMICS ENHANCE BY CULTURE…For Middle and High School
State: Washington
School is an introduction to the greater world in so many ways, including how to bridge age and cultural differences. One group of 7th and 8th graders collaborated with 1st graders in an ongoing, multi-faceted project to do just that.
Following a comprehensive training on communication, tutoring, and group work, the 7th and 8th graders began to work extensively with 1st graders in their district.

The older students studied a variety of world cultures, then designed and facilitated presentations and activities for the younger students during such observations as Asian New Years, Cinco de Mayo, and Earth Day.

For their part, the 1st graders learned numbers and basic greetings in several languages and taught these to the older students. Both groups also participated in longer term efforts such as peer tutoring.

As they progressed through their project, all the students involved worked to develop and maintain a resource file. They stored copies of their research, activity plans, and contacts from which community members could draw.
Adapted from “Route to Reform: K-8 service-learning Curriculum Ideas,” © 1994-95 National Youth Leadership Council.

Grades: 3-8
Types of Project: Intergenerational, Community Building/Development,
State: Washington

When one teacher introduced a culture curriculum to her 4th-grade students, she discovered few knew much about their heritages. They decided to investigate their cultural backgrounds further, and asked residents of local nursing homes and senior centers to help them. The senior citizens were glad to have regular visitors and people to share their stories with.
The students began by studying their region’s past and present cultural groups, including their own. They learned how to effectively use electronic encyclopedias and online sources to conduct research.

After reviewing communication strategies, such as active listening and speaking clearly, each student partnered with a senior citizen of the same culture. Many of the youths did not have regular contact with the elderly or strong mentors in their cultural communities. Through these partnerships, the students received positive role models and learned how to gather information from primary sources. Each pair discussed its heritage and created an art or craft project typical of that culture.

After classroom discussions, independent research of secondary sources, and conversations with senior citizens, each student wrote a report on the culture of his or her choice, including pictures of the country’s topography, flag, and peoples. The student led their classmates in listing beneficial contributions that people from that culture made to the United States. To conclude the project, they decorated their room with their reports and the art projects; served homemade food; and invited the senior citizens, parents, and other classes to join them in celebrating diversity at the multicultural fair.

These 4th graders learned a lot during this project, from how to research using a variety of sources to appreciation for their elders. Most importantly, they grew in understanding of their own heritages and realized with pride that they too were community resources and cultural representatives.
Adapted from “Route to Reform: K-8 service-learning Curriculum Ideas,” © 1994-95 National Youth Leadership Council.

4. The following is a response in Yahoo; a question was posting asking educators how they encourage the celebration of diversity in their programs and classrooms. Barb

  • Encourage the children to bring something from home that shows their culture to share with their classmates…Princess M
  • I always do a Winter Holidays around the world. We focus on a different country each day. I also throw in celebrations that the students themselves have. Ultimately they do a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting celebrations between countries….numiange
  • Cook and share traditional recipes from the cultures –jenni m
  • This month I am doing a “Trip Around the World” to celebrate diversity with the kids in my program. We are going to different ethnic neighborhoods, trying food in some, listening to music in others, etc., etc. This way, the kids get to really experience different cultures… Caitlin

Please share your ideas-to do so-add it in the comment (biuquote) or E-mail on the Contact Page!

Menu for Diversity and Multi-Cultural Categories

Diversity Theme Introduction & Menu

Entire Diversity & Multi Cultural Category (Excluding MLK)

Diversity Using Arts & Crafts

Diversity Through Foods and Other Activities

Diversity through Language and Literacy

Diversity with Games and School/Program Implemented Ideas

List of Multi-Cultural Themed Books Listed by Age

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



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