Games and Toys Reflect Resources

by Ruth Ann Bingham

Level: Early Elementary

Objectives: Students will demonstrate their understanding that different games reflect local resources by creating a type of ball.


  • Games (example: dominoes, jump-rope)
  • Pictures of children in Africa
  • Copies of rubric
  • Rags and string or twine (ask students two days before this project to bring these supplies from home.)


Display the different games on a table in a visible area in the classroom. Write the following tasks on the board and then explain them to the students.

  • Who do you think created these games or other games you have played?
  • What do you think helped them to create that game?

Show pictures of children in Africa playing games. Ask the students :

  • Who do you think created these games?
  • What materials did they use to make them?


Explain to the students that "children in Malawia, Africa, have games that are made from their local resources. Those who live near sandy areas make games by digging holes in the sand (using it as a game board) and use little rocks or sea shells (using them as game pieces) to move around. and also They also like to play soccer (called 'football' in Africa) but many times there are no real soccer balls so they improvise by making a soccer ball out of rags bound by twine."

Have each child pull out his or her rags and twine/string. Explain to the students they are going to be making their own "ball."

Give them each a copy of the rubric and explain it.

Have them work in teams of two. Have them cut their twine or string in 1 meter lengths.

Demonstrate to the students:

  • Scrunching up a lot of rags and then covering the circumference of the scrunched up rags with another rag.
  • When the rags are ready to be bound have one student hold the ball while another takes the strip of string and starts twisting it around the ball.


What other kind of games can we make from things in our house? Can you think of a game you have played at home that was made from things around your house? Next time you are playing a game think how you can play that game by improvising and using other items from around your house.


Test the product at recess using the rubric.

Kick each ball 5 times to test the durability or strength.

 Return to Africa Table of Contents
Sources: Adapted from
  1. "Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance" Calendar 1998

    1025 South 700 West Salt Lake City, UT 84104 (801) 978-9565