Traditional games for families – part I

Even now we can still play traditional games!

In the current, world-wide situation, many of us have been forced to stay at home. Now, we can slowly get out and return to meet other people. No matter if we still stay home or we visit some public places, it is always good to spend more valuable time together with our families, including children.

But what can we do to avoid boredom?

A great solution are – traditional sports, games and plays (TSG), which I usually offer during my practical classes for everyone.

Our possibilites to participate in such classes are limited now. However, it is always recommended to be physically active.

We can play many games even at home or in the gardens. It is good for our physical and mental health, including our immunity system.

Below, you will find three, interesting, traditional games – very helpful in spending a good family time. A warm, spring weather will also allow us in many regions to take advantage of the outdoor spaces, e.g. gardens, parks etc.

We usually play these games in larger groups, but they are also great for the smaller ones, like families.


Kubb is an interesting and engaging, throwing game from the Swedish island of Gotland.

We need 11 blocks to play (you can use wooden or plastic blocks or other equipment, e.g. plastic bottles, bean bags, boxes etc.) – including 10 smaller ones and one larger – the so-called King. We also need something to throw at these blocks – that can be wooden sticks, batons, but also bean bags, tennis balls or other, useful equipment.

The rules of playing

Place the smaller blocks (bottles, bags or boxes) in two rows of 5 – opposite to one another. Put the “King” between them – in the middle.

There are usually two teams playing, but at home or in the garden, you can also play one-to-one. Each player or a team stands behind their 5 blocks – opposite to each other. Their task will be to knock the opponents’ blocks down, by throwing at them with their sticks or bean bags.

The initial setting of blocks in Kubb – the “King” in the middle

The order of playing kubb:

  • first, all members of one team throws their sticks or bean bags at the opponents’ blocks,
  • after that, the second team throws all their blocks,
  • then, if there are still blocks standing, the first team picks up their sticks and throws again and so on – until all the figures are knocked over.
  • the last task is to knock over the King – a heavier and more difficult figure to overturn, but standing in the middle – closer to the players.
  • the first team, which manages to knock down the five opponent’s blocks and the King at the end, wins the game.

You can also try to play kubb a bit differently:

One player begins the game, by throwing only one of his/her wooden stick or bean bags at the opponents’ blocks, trying to knock over one of them.

Then, the player of the other team takes the throw, trying to knock over one of the blocks from the opposite side. Next, it is a turn of the first team again and the game continues until all 5 opposite blocks and the King are knocked down.

There is also the more complicated version of kubb. After each turn of the throws, the already knocked down blocks are thrown by the players to their opponents’ half of the playing field, picked up and put back on the ground, becoming the first “defenders”.

In the next turn, the opposite team has to start from knocking over the “defenders” of their counterparts and only after that they can try to hit the other blocks from the end line (and finally “the King”).

Kubb is a calm but engaging game – a good form of entertainment for everyone, regardless of age, gender, strength or physical fitness level.

You can play kubb at home or in the garden.

The “power” of this game is its simplicity. It gives you a lot of joy and fun!🙂

Kubb is a great family game

the CHAPEL (Polish name: KAPELA)

The Chapel (Kapela) is not only a term for a musical group – it is also a name of an old, Polish, traditional game – now returning to its favour.

Kapela consists in playing a kind of a duel between two players. One person, acting as a Kapelamaster, stands in the middle of the field with a hat or a cup on his/her head and puts a small construction of stones (one on another) next to him or her. It resembles a chapel – hence the name of the game.

tradycyjna gra kapela

The player starts the game, trying to hit and knock down the construction.
Kapelamaster is ready to rebuild it

Around the Kapelamaster, there are usually up to 8 players (their number can of course be changed), who form a circle. Each of them has a wooden ball in his/her hand (it was a stone in the past).

You can also use different materials for playing. Instead of a hat or a cap, you can use bean bags. Kapelamaster puts them next to him/her and hits the running players with them. The construction of stones (the chapel) can also be built from the other materials, than stones – wooden blocks, boxes, cartons and so on.

The course of the game

One of the players from the circle starts the game by throwing or rolling the ball towards the chapel so that it falls over. If he or she succeeds, he/she runs for the ball and returns with it (the same path) to his/her place.

At the same time, the task of Kapelamaster is to rebuild the chapel and then to throw a cap / a hat / a bean bag at the player running after the ball. If he hits him/her, before he/she returns with the ball to his/her place, the hit person becomes the new Kapelamaster.

If Kapelamaster misses or fails to rebuild the chapel (or the stones fall down during the game), Kapelamaster remains in his/her place and another player from the circle tries to knock down the chapel, by throwing or rolling his/her ball.

There are basically no winners or losers in this game. After each turn, Kapelamaster either changes and becomes one of the players from the circle or not and he or she continues to play his/her role until he/she successfully rebuilds the chapel and hits someone with a hat. You can play until the game gets bored or spontaneously come up with the other way to end it.

Kapela is a cheerful, traditional game, very good for the whole families.

It gives a lot of joy from the duel – a running competition between the Kapelamaster and the consecutive players from the circle.

It is a simple, joyful game for children, the entire families and everyone interested.

polska gra tradycyjna w Chinach

Kapela can be played even by the youngest children


tradycyjna gra dla całych rodzin

Kapela is a great fun for families.

Currently, you can even play it at home or in the garden

Wołany (in Denmark known as “Stanto”)

Wołany is a movement game, which has also different names in Poland, among others, gogi, stójka or kluchy.

Usually more people take part in it, but now you can play it in the garden or in park in a small family circle – e.g. parents with children.

The rules of playing

The players form a small circle. One person comes inside with the ball in his/her hand. The ball must be soft. You can also use the other equipment or materials that you have at home – soft pillows, bean bags, rolled up newspapers etc.

A person inside the circle tosses the ball (or other soft and light object) and shouts the name of the selected player (mother, further, sister, brother etc.). The task of the called person is to catch the thrown object and immediately shout: “one, two, three stop!” (or shorter: “stop!”).

At the same time, everyone else is running to different sides as far as possible from the person with a ball. But when they hear: “stop!”, they must immediately stop and stand still.

Now, a person with a ball (or the other object) can take three steps in any direction (in case of smaller space, you can set up the rule of taking only one step or not taking steps at all).

Then, she or he tries to hit the selected participant with a ball (or the other object, it is important to be soft). If she or he succeeds, the hit participant goes inside and repeats the game.

There are no winners or losers in this game. You can just have fun and enjoy the game until it gets you bored. But if you want to make it more competitive, you can introduce the rule, that the hit person gets one “warning”. After, for instance, three such “warnings”, this person is eliminated and the game continues.

“Wołany” is a very funny, running game that gives the participants a lot of joy.

tradycyjna zabawa dla wszystkich - wołany

A person in the middle tosses the ball and shouts the name of a chosen player.

The rest of them is about to run in all directions

tradycyjna zabawa wołany

The ball is in the air – the play begins!

wołany - polska zabawa tradycyjna

The ball is caught. Everyone must stand still!

tradycyjna zabawa - wołany

Nobody is moving except the person with a ball in the middle who aims at the selected participant

Games and activities for the whole families

There are more such traditional games and plays. It’s worth trying them at home, in the garden, in parks etc. It’s a very good way to spend this unusual time together in a happy and valuable way.

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