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Traditional Children's Games:

Paper Dolls, Paper and Card Games

Children often like to use pencils, crayons, paints, and paper to invent their own games and toys. They cut out paper dolls and make clothes for them, then happily play with them for hours. They also invent pencil and paper games that allow them to interact with friends, drawing grids on sheets of paper in order to keep score. Card games also are a favorite with young children.

International students from Taiwan and Mexico describe games of this type that they enjoyed playing as children.

International  students show off the paper dolls they made.
Photo: Sandy Peters
International students make and show each other the kind of paper dolls young children played with in their countries.

Playing with Paper Dolls

Eliza Wang from Taiwan

When I was a child, I played lots of games with my friends. Most of them didn't cost anything and were creative.

We used natural materials such as chopsticks and leaves to create our own games or toys. They cost little and we had a lot of fun.

I think we also learned how to get along with people in the games. There were two games I liked most--paper dolls and a kind of card game. My favorite game to play with my girlfriends was paper dolls. We drew paper dolls and all kinds of clothes such as jeans, shirts, or skirts on paper and then cut them out.

The clothes fit the dolls and had tabs so that we could fold the tabs back and hang the clothes on the dolls. We made more than one doll when we played together.

We copied adult life with the paper dolls. When we played with the them, it seemed like we were adults, too. Sometimes the dolls were classmates, colleagues or sisters, but they never had children or were mothers.

We would admire a girl if she could draw beautiful dolls or clothes. Therefore, every girl worked hard at it. We used our hands and brains when we created the dolls. 

Ang-Aa-Biao, A Card Game

Eliza Wang from Taiwan

With the boys, I played a kind of card game called Ang-Aa-Biao. There was a picture on one side of each card. You need at least two persons to play this game.

We collected cards from each player, then put them on the ground picture- side face down. To decide who was first, we played "scissors, paper, stone" with our fingers.

We used one card to hit other cards on the ground. A player won when he turned the pictures face up. He could win respect from the other children if he was the best player.

It was fun to play this game, and at the same time we developed hand-eye coordination when we played it.

Stop! A Game to Play with Paper and Pencil

Miriam Mostkoff from Mexico

When I was in elementary school, we used to play different games. We had a 30-minute break after lunch but, for us it was too short.

So, when we were in the classroom, we would sit at the end of the room, and there where the teacher couldn't see us we played a quiet game that we called Stop!

This game allowed as many players as you wanted, and you only needed a sheet of paper and a pen or a pencil. We divided the sheet into categories such as animals, flowers, movies, TV shows, colors, fruits, last names, whatever you wanted. You had to draw a vertical line between each word like this:


When each player had their own sheet ready, it was time to start. One of the players started the game, saying aloud the letters of the alphabet in order—A, B, C, D, E, F, and so on. The player next to him had to say "Stop!" as loud as he could.

As you can imagine, in the middle of the classroom, we had to say it as quietly as we could because we didn't want to get caught.

When that player said stop, the one who was saying the letters of the alphabet had to stop right there, and it was the moment for all the players to start writing a word with that consonant or vowel. You needed to write a word for each category, and you only had time to write until the first player finished.

When the first player finished, he said "Stop!" again, and it was time to review the answers. Each player had to say the word that he or she wrote, and if two players had the same word, they received only 50 points; for example, let's say you had to write with the consonant "P".



















The last column on the sheet was the total, and you wrote down the points that you had, and then you had to do the same with all the players. Each time you wrote a different letter.

At the end of the sheet, the game ended and the winner was the one with the highest score. This game was really fun for us, and we loved to play it often, so I hope you enjoy it the way I did.

Lotería Mexicana, A Mexican Bingo Game

Claudia lopez from Mexico

Barnes & Noble
Playing Loteria Mexicana" by Rene Colato Lainez and Jill Arena

Loteria is a popular game in my country, Mexico. When I was a child, I enjoyed playing this game with my family. I played it a lot when I was around eight or ten years old.

Image: Stampington & Co.
There are ten big cards and 54 small cards with small pictures of objects, people, or animals.

How to Play Lotería

To play this game, you have to have 20 or more people. There are ten big cards and 54 small cards with different pictures such as objects, people, or animals.

Each child chooses one big card. One child is the caller and begins to call out, one by one, what picture is on each small card.

If the children have that picture on their big card, they mark it with a counter, usually beans or stones. The game finishes when one player has markers on all the pictures on his/her big card first and shouts "loteria."

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