7 Simple Traditional Games My Children Play


We all know children learn through play by using their imagination. However, with technology I feel that nowadays children have fewer opportunities for imagination and movement. That’s why I take every chance I get to provide my kids with playing outdoors and engaging them in games that are simple and don’t require any electric device.

Having part of my family still living in the Dominican Republic, I often compare the games and activities of my nieces and nephews living back there to the daily routine for American children, including my own. With power outages of 10+ hours in most neighborhoods there is little-to-none screen time for kids.

That’s why that my pre-k girl and toddler boy are still ban from using computer, tablets and cell phones. They watch TV for about two hours, but the rest of the day they need to figure out what to do, playing, running, drawing, etc. You know what they say; only boring people get bored. To help my children expand their imagination and to nurture their physical and emotional fitness I have been introducing them to the games I used to play as a kid.

Besides the obvious physical and emotional benefits of play, I also use these games to teach them about my heritage and to keep the connection between them and their cousins that live abroad. Now that we are visiting them here in Santo Domingo, I have been pleased to hear they sing the same Spanish language songs and know how to play arroz con leche and el juego de la vaca.

These are the games that are keeping my children connected to imagination and heritage. I’m sure no game or TV can replace that.


  • Ping Pong 1 of 8

    The wooden paddle and ball goes a long way. I love it because it helps with coordination and concentration on top of being very entertaining. Kids over 7 years old will master the paddle real quick and appreciate having it around.

  • Rayuela 2 of 8

    This is so much fun to play during summer days! I love it because it involves the use of numbers; it integrates the group around a fun, physical activity and teaches them to be patient while waiting for their turn to play.


  • Maracas 3 of 8

    Playing with musical instruments is always fun for children. As a Caribbean family we teach our kids to dance, sing and play with music early on. My son loves the maracas; I usually turn on merengue music and make him follow the song with his hands. 

  • Jacks 4 of 8

    A childhood favorite of mine, jacks are awesome to play with groups of any sizes and it helps with counting and identifying colors for preschoolers. It is also good for developing eye-hand coordination skills and can keep children entertained for a good while.

  • Hand Games 5 of 8

    This has to be one of the simplest ways for kids to entertain themselves. There are so many, Spanish language hand games. I often play "el gallo, el gallo, la gallina y el caballo"... I've found this is a very effective way to distract a cranky kid.

  • Hop Scotch 6 of 8

    The rectangular trúcamelo is a different version of la rayuela and challenges players to advance the numbers in a different way. You can have as many players as you want and run the numbers from low to high and/or high to low.

  • Jump Rope 7 of 8

    What could be more fun for a kid than jumping up and down? Even for the little ones who cannot actually jump, they'll enjoy holding the rope and feeling they are part of the fun. 

  • Games 8 of 8

    Yes, the old-fashioned way. Even though some of these might seem like pull out of the stone age, buying these games is very inexpensive and guarantees hours of fun with the family. I dare you to remember which of these (if not all!) you played when you were a child.

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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