Siklot: Reinvention of a Traditional Game for EFL Classrooms (by Marco Brazil)


“Flick a card.

Flick a card.

Start the game,

And let’s have fun!”

Siklot: Cultural background

Siklot is one of the most popular traditional games in the Philippines. The game is usually played by children from seven to sixteen years old.  It can be played with two, three, four or more players, indoor or outdoor. I remember having great times playing the game at home with my siblings when I was young.  In those days having a big family was the norm in the Philippines (I have four brothers and a sister), and in those days we didn’t have the technologies that children of today have, so when the weather (the Philippines has only two types of weather; super hot or lots of rain) was non-cooperative for an outdoor adventures, we usually gathered around in one part of the living room and played Siklot.

What is Siklot? Siklot means flick in the Philippines. It is a game similar to jacks or jackstones. The objective of the game is to successfully flick “stones” that are dropped on the floor.  Each player starts with six or more “stones” (but there are variations, children who live along coastal parts of the country prefer sea shells or pebbles, children in rural areas prefer seeds, while children in the cities prefer marbles).

How it is played? After deciding who will begin, the first player collects all the stones from other players. He tosses the stones in the air and catches them with the back of his hand, tosses them again, catching them in the palm of his hand. When stones are on the floor, the player flicks a cue stone (with thumb over the index middle finger) to touch the stones on the ground. Player takes turn flicking pairs of stones until all the stones are gone. The winner of each round is the player who has flicked the most stones. This player sets one stone aside (called a baboy or “pig” to represent traditional Filipino savings) and the game begins again. The player who ends up with the largest number or baboy stones is the ultimate winner.

Siklot: Reinvented for EFL Class

In my experience, Siklot works wonderfully for reinforcing vocabulary and practicing simple questions and answers (what, who, can, how many). Kids may sometimes get too excited and therefore could be a bit noisy, but that’s part of the fun!

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Players:         2 or more

Materials:     picture cards (playing card size) and a table or flat surface

How to play:

  1. Determine the order of play (Rock- Scissors- Paper!).
  2. Shuffle the picture cards and deal one to each player (This card will be use to flick cards from the pile, rather than the tradition Siklot stones.)
  3. Toss the remaining cards in the air. The cards should land on a flat surface, usually in a pile, but sometimes in two or three broken piles.
  4. Players say the chant:  Flick a card. Flick a card. Start the game, and let’s have fun!
  5. The objective of the game is to flip over a card, away from the pile. Players take turn flicking a card from the pile, in order to turn it face up. If the player is successful, he performs a task (naming the vocabulary or asking another student a question). If he completes the task successfully, he gets to keep the card, and takes another turn. If he fails to flip over a card, the next player takes his turn.
  6. Players keep playing until all the cards are gone. The player who has the most cards at the end of the game, wins the game.

Marco Brazil has been training teachers and teaching children English for over fifteen years. He maintains strong a strong commitment to making English fun and easy for both teachers and learners. He occasionally writes articles and gives teaching presentations for Oxford Kid’s Club Teaching Tour mostly, on games (You can see handouts from his workshops here and here).  Marco is the director/owner of SmartKids Circle. You can find Marco on Facebook.

  1. Thanks for getting this series off to such a brilliant start, Marco!

    You have real talent in exploiting teaching potential in traditional games. I’ve enjoyed following your efforts on Facebook.

    I look forward to trying Siklot with my students next week. And I hope that your post encourages other teachers to share their own game adaptations!

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  3. My pleasure Barb. Anytime you ask me, I’ll do it for Teaching Village. Knowing other teachers will be playing my game in their classrooms makes me feel happy. This is just the beginning, coz I’ll be looking forward to another posting of another traditional game from the Philippines. Mabuhay to Teaching Village!

  4. Marco,

    Wonderful stuff and I love how interactive the game can be. Further and most importantly, starting from student’s own cultural knowledge can be so powerful – whether adapting a game, retelling a traditional folktale or just using their own celebrities/heroes in lessons.

    A teacher on EFL Classroom recently shared an adaptation of the traditional Korean game of Yutnori. All the kids know it, play it and her adaptation into English was a hit. I hope more teachers, wherever they are around the world will follow yours and her lead and do the same!

    David

    • Thanks for the lovely thoughts, David. When I reinvented Siklot for my classes I was just thinking of ways to make use of my picture cards (I am using Let’s Go series student cards). But now, some of my students started asking about it’s origin (my country) and that’s the bonus!

      • And it’s a good bonus, Marco. Since my students don’t have the language to explicitly learn about other cultures, games are an easy way to include culture in class. Plus, kids tend to be more interested in learning about games from other countries than they are in some other aspects of culture (unless snack foods are included).

        • You hit the nail. Barb and couldn’t say more. I”ll be reinvernting dozens more (giggling)!

    • I totally missed that post, David. There are SO MANY goodies on EFL Classroom that I always worry that I’m missing something really great–like this game.

      Nice chance to remind everyone–If you haven’t already joined EFL Classroom, you should. Hands down, the best all-around resource site for EFL teachers. The link in my sidebar under Teacher Resources will take you to the site (as will clicking on David’s name in the comment).

  5. Hey, nice game, we have nearly the same in Hungary.
    Congratulations for your third prize this year.
    I’ve just set up a blog. Check it out and let me know your opinion please.
    Regards: Reeka

  6. Rico, that means our traditional game “siklot” is also played in other countries only with variation on how, what materials are used and depending on the players… share more of our traditional games…