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Street Games & Film Fests

By Jackie Burrell
Thursday, January 21st, 2010 at 1:56 pm in Family Outings.

Scene from Jules Oosterwegel's "Playtime"
Who needs kick-the-can when you can play el trompo, Cuban-style, or rod-gul-gron-stop like a Dane? Those are just two street games filmmaker Jules Oosterwegel discovered on a 15-year project that captured children’s street games from around the world. They’re part of a 300-game lineup that includes Vietnamese variations of blind man’s buff, a Bolivian stone-tossing game much like jacks without the ball, and a Dutch clapping game familiar to youngsters the world over.  This weekend you can see them yourself when Oosterwegel’s playful documentary, “Playtime,” is screened as part of the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival, which runs Jan. 23-24 in Alameda. Oosterwegel will be on hand to teach festivalgoers some of the street games as well. Read more about the film here, then scroll down for instructions for playing Muurball, Tag Sat, and other street games.

Street Games
Game: Cuop Co, Vietnam
Needed: Four or more players, a red scarf and a piece of chalk with which to draw a circle in the center of the playground.
How to play: The object is to snag the red scarf from the circle without getting tagged. At a signal, the first pair of kids dashes in and tries to fake each other out, lunging and feinting until someone can grab the scarf and sprint back to their team without being tagged. Every few minutes another pair joins them, until someone successfully grabs the scarf and gets away.

Game: Muurball, Netherlands
Needed: Four or more players, a bouncy ball and a wall.
How to play: In this variation on wall ball, everyone lines up behind each other, with feet placed slightly apart. The child closest to the wall sends a low throw so the ball shoots straight back toward the players, who must jump over it. If the ball hits you, you’re out. If no one is hit, the second child in line moves to the front and starts the game again.

Game: Tag Sat, Denmark
Needed: Four players, an open field.
How to play: In this clever variation on tag, children play the role of target, tagger and bodyguards. The target and two bodyguards hold hands and spin around the field, as the tagger tries to capture his prey by running around them or reaching through their triangle.

Game: Filling the Bottle, Zimbabwe
Needed: Two teams of three players, a soda bottle, a ball and a sandy play area.
How to play: The bottle is placed in the center of the play area and sand is heaped up around it to hold it steady. In this dodge ball-like game, one team races to fill the bottle with sand, while ducking and attempting to avoid — or catch –the ball that is thrown at them. If a bottle-filler is hit, he’s out, but if he catches it, he may throw it in any direction. The team wins a point each time the bottle is completely filled.
— Games featured in Jules Oosterwegel’s documentary “Playtime”

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