Appendix F: Games From Around the World

The John Humphrey Centre Rights in Play Guide provides the following background information on the topic, Games from Around the World: [1]


All cultures have unique games and pastimes, but many also share similarities such as being fond of race games, string games or competitive games. These similar features can be used as common ground to foster the social inclusion of children from diverse backgrounds. The activities in this section aim to promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding as well as to investigate the importance of the right to play for children all over the world. Through playing games from different places, children will begin to develop an appreciation for the similarities between children around the world.

Article 31 of the CRC [see Appendix A] outlines the right to play and includes several distinct but related rights such as rest, recreation, leisure and participation in cultural life and the arts. It reads:

States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

Often, Article 31 is dismissed as representing an optional dimension of children’s lives. Yet, play is an essential element in children’s emotional, physical, social and intellectual development. In modern Canadian society, “free” playtime is diminishing for some children, often when both parents are working. Today, structured recreational and sports activities are often favoured over free play. Many children also spend large amounts of time watching TV or on the computer. Making time for free play is increasingly important under these conditions as it promotes children’s health, education and participation. For children, free play is not an indulgence, it is a necessity.



  • Play: activities of children that are not controlled by adults and that do not necessarily conform to any rules. Self-motivation is a key factor.

  • Rest: the basic necessities of physical and mental relaxation and sleep.

  • Leisure: having the time and freedom to do as one pleases.

  • Recreational activities: embraces a range of goal-directed activities.

Understanding the Concept:

Playing games from around the world is a great way to explore the differences and similarities between cultures and to discuss what unites children all over the world. The right to play (CRC Article 31) is an important right that is often overlooked as non-essential. However, free play helps to promote health, education, participation and development. For children, free play is not an indulgence, it is a necessity.

DID YOU KNOW?  [This information can be expanded and amended.]

  • There are many types of play, both structured and unstructured. “Free play” or unstructured play refers to play that is not an organised recreational or learning activity. “Free play” contributes to brain development, creates flexibility, enhances creativity, and builds resilience to stress.

  • Children from all over the world play games and many of them share similarities. For example, in Chile children play a game called Corre, Corre la Guaraca, which is similar to “Duck, Duck, Goose”.

  • Sports are one type of play. In Canada, children’s sports participation is highest when the mother works part-time and the father works full-time (66%). It is slightly lower when both parents work full-time (58%). Also, children are more likely to participate in sports if they live in neighbourhoods that are considered safe for outside play.

  • In Canada, physical fitness has declined in recent years and a quarter of children and youth are overweight or obese.

  • Self-reported screen time (computer, video game or TV time) is approximately 6 hours a day on weekdays, and more than 7 hours a day on weekends on average in Canada.