Childish Games!

Childish Games!

Local childhood games have come a long way since the Gen X era. Since then, we have witnessed remarkable societal developments that have changed the way we live. No longer are we a third world nation whose future seems unclear, today Singapore has become a thriving first world business hub which prides itself on being on the cutting edge of technology.

Traditionally, local childhood games don’t revolve around staring at a screen. It was a social activity in which kids met up with their neighbours for a vigourous total body workout. However, that is becoming a dying trend.


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With the affordability of smart phones and tablets, it is becoming commonplace to see kids stuck in their own world. Coupled with the development of the internet, kids these days are more likely to be engaged in a game of Angry Birds than out catching spiders in the great outdoors.

However, it is nice to reflect once in a while (especially with our nation’s 48th birthday coming up) on old pleasures that have given us much cherished memories. So without further ado, we bring you some of our favourite local childhood games that you might have enjoyed too!

1. Flag Eraser Wars


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Easily our favourite school past time, these country flag erasers were available at any school bookstore. Costing a mere 10 cents each, students would fork out a fair portion of their daily pocket money to purchase these colourful erasers for a worldwide showdown!

Though the Cold War might have been over, we still recall fierce rivalry between the various nations as kids tried to flip their flag erasers on top of their opponent’s.

2. Marbles


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Also known as “goli”, marbles is a kampong game that was popular with young males. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see boys walking around with pockets filled with their impressive marble collection.

The aim of the game was to stand behind a demarcated line and attempt to use a marble to hit the opponent’s marbles out of a drawn circle. Things got heated when kids started to use metal marbles instead of the typical glass ones to smash the opposing marbles!

Nonetheless, it proved to be good preparation for grown up games such as snooker as the basic principles are somewhat similar.

3. Block Catching


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A popular 80s’ game, block catching is a local variation of the traditional ‘Police and Thief’ game. Many an afternoon, the roar of thunderous slippers could be heard along HDB corridors and void decks. It was not an uncommon sight to see groups of kids running amok and screaming their heads off.

To start off a game of block catching, a ‘catcher’ will first be selected through chance. Through a game of ‘O Ya Pey Ya Som’, the ‘catcher’ was usually the person with the odd palm up or down. The lone ‘catcher’ is then tasked with hunting the rest of the group who are free to roam within the block to evade capture.

It was a gruelling task for the ‘catcher’ to catch the others as he needed to lay his hand on the person before they were considered caught. Once caught, they were imprisoned in a specific area of the block. But, those imprisoned were not out of the game YET. They could be rescued by their free counterpart by a mere touch of their hands. Thus, the ‘catcher’ had to play a dual role of watching over the prisoners while trying to hunt down the others.

The game usually ended when the time limit was up, or when everyone was required to report home for dinner!

4. Ji Gu Pa


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A local adaption of scissor-paper-stone with a ‘Simon Says’ twist, the two-player game was a fun way to pass time. The game was played with both hands with the objective was to eliminate your opponent by putting out a more ‘powerful’ or similar hand symbol. Once a player had both hands eliminated, he would have lost the game.


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5. Hopscotch


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A popular children’s game worldwide, hopscotch was said to have originated from either ancient Rome or China. Usually played in playgrounds or parks, a player had to toss a marker (usually a bean bag or stone) on a chalk drawn hopscotch outline to determine their landing spot. The player then had skip through the course on one leg to the landing spot without touching the marked borders.

6. Chapteh


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Invented by the ancient Chinese, “chapteh” is a shuttlecock made from a rubber disc complete with feathers. The aim of the game was to continuously bounce the feathered shuttlecock with the heel of your foot. The game was over when the “chapteh” touched the ground.

Chapteh is considered a good introduction to the local sport “sepek takraw” as it focuses on precise foot movement which hones concentration, balance and dexterity.

7. Five Stones


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Popular with young girls, five stones, played with actual stones which were picked up from the ground nearby. Over the years, the stones were considered dangerous and gradually replaced by little pyramidal bean bags with colourful batik prints.

Basically, players had to catch a tossed bean bag while grabbing one bag that is on the ground. As the game progressed, the number of bean bag increased making it more challenging for the player. Although simple in nature, it was a game that honed the player’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination!

Itching for some fun old school games?

Then come down to SAFRA on National Day and join us as we celebrate our nation’s birthday with classics such as Giant Snake and Ladder and Jenga!

Click here now to learn more about the fun activities that SAFRA has in stored this 9th of August!



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