Ah, the good ol’ days. Time and time again, we talk long walks down memory lane to relive our childhood because those were some of the best days of our lives. Well, at least the best days of my life ;)
What do you remember most from your childhood aside from singing “Negaraku” every dreaded Monday morning during “perhimpunan” (assembly time)? Which memory do you often find yourself relating to most – wrapping up school early on Fridays (if you’re from the morning session) or starting school late on Fridays (if you’re from the afternoon session), cheap canteen food, PE/PJK classes because you get to start the next class late, or games? Oh, I remember the games from simpler times, when we had to “make do” with whatever “materials” we had at that time because we weren’t born during a time of luxury e.g. iPads, smartphones, handheld games. And even if we had the luxury of owning those, bringing them to school wouldn’t be the best idea because “spot checks”.
So we (meaning, I) had to make do with the below games. See if you too played any of these:
1. Batu Seremban (5 Stones)
When I was in primary school, it was the girls who usually played this game better. But, sometimes, the boys surprised us with their hidden talents. Well, not so much “hidden” talents if they just had bigger hands. The idea of is to throw one “stone” up while scooping up as many of the remaining ones before catching the one that was thrown. Most of the time, it’s a quiet game – save for when you’re showing off “patting” tricks and slamming the table while you’re at it. The game requires a lot of speed and agility, and maybe some pretty homemade “stones” too ;)
This is super boy-centric but I played it sometimes! When you see 2 kids huddled around a Mathematics exercise book, trust me when I say that they’re not exactly discussing homework. “Conquer” was, for its time, a modern classroom game. How it works is that 2 players would take turns drawing symbols to “conquer” the other player’s units. Pretty much an early version of a strategy game – one of the world’s simplest, if you asked me. But not always easy to play :)
3. 20 Sen “Country Flag” Eraser Game
When all else fails, there are erasers. Or as Malaysians would call them, “rubbers”. This ancient primary school game gained popularity a long time ago and it doesn’t even require much. This was also the reason why kids in school went around collecting erasers. And not just any erasers – the rectangular ones with country flags printed on them. You’re supposed to just flip your erasers with the aim of landing on your opponent’s eraser. Yes, it’s that simple. But it spurred other things such as exchanging erasers and building a (pretty much useless afterwards) collection of erasers. Good times!
4. Bottle Caps
Another boy-centric game which requires, well, nothing much. If you ever saw them collecting bottle caps, this was the very sound reason why. Bottle caps is a local multi-player game that required only 5 metal bottle caps but promises hours of fun. It starts off with a “timbang”, a move that will determine which player goes first, before using the said bottle caps to hit one another. The game is determined by a point system, and is basically a test of a person’s dexterity and accuracy.
5. Lompat Getah
“Lompat Getah” is usually played outdoors and not so much a classroom game because it requires space. Girls are usually seen playing this on school grounds, jumping and skipping over a “rope” woven by rubber bands. The game challenges one’s ability to jump over it, with the height gradually increased with each successful attempt. The beauty of “Lompat Getah” is making the rope because it’s pretty easy to make and also the art of skipping around/over the rope. Oh, trust me, I’ve seen the somersaults!
6. Snap, Old Maid, Happy Family, Donkey
There were so many reasons to keep a look out for the neighbourhood ice-cream man (usually on a motorbike with an overload of goodies), one of which was to purchase the “Snap”, “Old Maid”, “Happy Families”, or “Donkey” card games. The card games weren’t Malaysian per se but they were wildly popular among kids back then because they were bucketloads of fun. Each card game has a different set of rules but they were specially made sets of picture cards, featuring illustrations of fictional families or characters and animals. Also another highly confiscate-able item in school. Oops!
7. Under The Rainbow
Singing, slapping, clapping of palms game complete with a song and a rhyme. No dance though. And I’m not even sure now why it was so much fun at that time to go, “Under the rainbow, under the sea bom bom bom, you are forever, you are for me and when we get married, we’ll have a family. Under the rainbow, under the sea bom bom bom BANG!”. The trick was to see how fast you can go while synchronising your singing, slapping, and clapping – before eventually messing up. Makes no sense, but fun nonetheless, especially during “rehat” (recess) times.
8. “Catching” (Tag or “Police & Thief”, basically)
“Catching” is basically a world-famous childhood game that was adapted locally. Think “Police & Thief” or “tag”. The game, played outdoors, usually started with the deciding rhyme, “Whose shoe is a dirty shoe, please go back and wash your shoe, and come back to school on Monday” to single out the “police”. Then, “catching” would kick off and the player would chase down his/her friends to “tag” or “freeze” them to the spot.
I have no idea where this game originated from but it was highly popular from the late 80s and throughout the entirety of the 90s. I remember it to be quite painful sometimes, even. Players were required to stand in a ring and chant “Pepsi-Cola!” before jumping apart. Then, the said players would kick the foot of another player to try to eliminate each other. A lot of dodging would ensue until one winner remains. Rest assured, most kids have failed to “walk out” of this game with clean Bata shoes. I can’t say that Moms were pleased with end result of “Pepsi-Cola”.
10. “One, Two, Jus!”
Rock, paper, scissors. It required nothing, except hands and some free time. During my childhood, we called it, “One, two, jus!”. The game was quick, snappy, required maybe some luck and various “personalised” forms of “punishment” for the loser. I quite vividly remember wishing for the power to read minds at some point in my life because of this!
So, which one of the above was your favourite childhood game? I know that some games would’ve either been passed down, evolved, or changed altogether through the times/generations. Got any that you’d like to share with us though? Leave us a comment in the comments box below!