Less than 20 years ago Maltese children weren’t glued to smartphones, addicted to 24-hour children’s TV channels or creating social media profiles to have fun.
Of course not. They were outside playing traditional games in the street or at the local playground. Being outside in the summer in Malta meant creating mud pies, building sandcastles at the beach or playing on the swings.
Here are some more traditional games that most of us enjoyed in the playground.
Making A Den
Den making involved gathering absolutely everything you can from around your house, including blankets, duvets, pillows and cushions to make a hideout in the living room.
Two people pass the “cradle” made from string back and forth between their fingers to make shapes and catch each other out.
Various games could be played, where children would compete for beads dealt out by every player. The most common involved making a shallow depression in the ground into which beads were flicked. Sometimes the beads’ colours had different values.
Before the advent of glass marbles, children played bowls using hazelnuts.
The rough diagram with nine, numbered compartments scratched on the ground represented the nine months of pregnancy, with the ninth-month section drawn with a bulge.
Kids cast a stone from the starting point, hop towards it, to trip it on to the next number. Completing the set results in ‘having a baby’.
To spin a wooden top, children wound a string several times around it and learned to throw it sharply while holding on to the end of the string. This made the top spin for a short while.
This popular game could be played in several styles but all involved a boy at the front, well bent forward, while the other vaults over him, using his hands, in leap frog fashion.