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Games from around the world

Students in other countries
An activity that explores cultures and traditions from around the world by looking at the games people play.

Social Sciences curriculum connections
Level 1 Understand how belonging to groups is important for people. Understand how the cultures of people in New Zealand are expressed in their daily lives.
Level 2Understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions, and values.
Level 3Understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes.
Level 4 Understand how people pass on and sustain culture and heritage for different reasons and that this has consequences for people.
Level 5Understand how the ideas and actions of people in the past have had a significant impact on people’s lives.

Learning materials

  • Journal
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Coloured pencils (*optional)
  • Printer (*optional)
  • Computer
  • Any items necessary to play the game you choose


Answer the following questions in your journal or talk about them with an adult:
a) What traditional New Zealand games do you know?
b) What types of games do you usually play at school?
c) Are the games you play at school similar or different from the games/sports you have seen on television or online?
d) Do you know any games that are played in a different country? If so, what game and from which country?

Activities and teaching strategies

  1. Let’s try our hand at a game from around the world! Click on the link to download a Chinese Tangram and either print it or use a piece of paper and pencil to trace the image. Cut out the shapes.
    Objective: Create an image using all seven pieces (e.g. flowers, animals, people). Rules: use all 7 shapes, each shape must touch at least one other shape, shapes cannot overlap
    *There are approximately 10,000 images that can be made!! How many can you make?
  1. Using this resource:
    Levels 1-5: Read the short details about 5 games from around the world. Print a copy of the world map (or ‘print screen’ the image and open in a file format that you can draw on). Colour in the countries of the games you have chosen. Create a legend for your map and write the name of the game next to the country’s colour.
    1) Which game is played the furthest from New Zealand?
    2) Which game is played the closest to New Zealand?

*Printable world map

*If necessary, use this resource to help identify the countries.

Name of Game1.2. 3.
How many participants?

Equipment required


Length of game

Playing space


Levels 1-5:  1. Pick one game that you researched and that you have the resources to play at home.  Try it out with family members!  
a) What is your favourite part of the game?  
b) Can you think of any similarities this game has to a game you play in New Zealand?
2. Put your mathematical brain to the test by creating your own Tangram using this link. Young ones may need assistance with their scissors. 
3. Speak with your parents and/or grandparents to learn about what types of games they played in their childhood.  
4. Incorporate games from around the world into a morning fitness routine.


Digg Organisation. (November 2014). Around the world in 80 games. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://digg.com/2014/around-the-world-in-80-games.

Geology Company. (2020). World map – Political. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://geology.com/world/world-map.shtml

Littlejohn, A. (August 2017). How to make a tangram square: The Chinese puzzle game.

Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://wehavekids.com/education/Chinese-Tangram-Game
Peters, S. (2008). Traditional children’s games from around the world. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from http://www.topics-mag.com/edition11/games-section.htm

Scholastic Ltd. (2020). Games around the world. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://www.scholastic.com/content/dam/teachers/articles/migrated-files-in-body/tangram.pdf

Watt, E. (2020). Games that school children play around the world. Retrieved on 11April 2020 from https://theirworld.org/news/games-that-school-children-play-around-the-world

Waterproof Paper Organisation. (2020). Printable map of the world. Retrieved on 11 April 2020 from https://www.waterproofpaper.com/printable-maps/world.shtml.


Rachel Williamson-Dean

Rachel Williamson-Dean is an experienced secondary school teacher, who has lived and taught in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. She has a Master of Public and Population Health Degree (MPH – Dist) and a PhD in Health Education. Over the past ten years Rachel has worked with students and school leaders across New Zealand, including leading the digital literacy programme, The Summer Learning Journey, for which she received the NEXT Woman of the Year in Education 2018 award. 

By Rachel Williamson-Dean

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