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

Cultural Background

Ask any Filipinos about Pukpuk Palayok or Hampas Palayok, and chances are they played it or saw it played at least once during their childhoods. The game is so immensely popular that any celebration or town fiesta is not complete without children (oh yes, sometimes adults) playing it. Having been colonized by the Spaniards for three hundred and thirty three years, Pukpuk Palayok is the Filipino version of Piñata, and just like the fiesta, Spaniards used the game to attract natives to their ceremonies and convert them to their religion. The Filipinos, known for reinventing things to suit their needs out of limited resources, adapted it by using a clay pot instead of the Mexican painted paper Piñata. In those times paper and paints were scarce and expensive, whereas clay pots were plentiful and cheap.

In the Philippines, pupok means to hit, and palayok is a clay pot, so the game literally means to hit a pot. Traditionally, the game is played with the decorated clay pot filled with goodies (candies, sweets, coins, and sometimes peso bills), suspended by string in the air, high enough for players to reach it. A long bamboo stick is used to hit and break the pot, so that players as well as by-standers can grab as many goodies as they can. The player who breaks the pot wins a prize, usually in currency.

Pukpok Palayok: Reinvented for EFL classrooms

For EFL classrooms, Pukpok Palayok uses no clay pot, nor a bamboo stick. Instead, the game makes use of the white board, picture cards (with magnets attached at the back), and an oversize hat (my children hate to be blindfolded with a handkerchief). In this adaptation, hitting is not permitted; children make use of their sense of directions, understanding of the commands given, and using their hands to feel for the targets. In my experience, the game works wonderfully for preschoolers, for teaching the alphabet, colors, shapes, fruits and vegetables. While, for elementary graders, it works very well for foods, practicing specific target language (“I’m hungry! What do you want? I want a hamburger. Go find it!” or “Where are you going? I’m going to the supermarket. Go find it”).  In addition to the target language, this is a great way to reinforce language for giving directions like; go straight, to your left, to your right, stop, that’s it, etc.

Target Language Examples

S1: I’m hungry!

Class : What do you want?

S1 : I want (hamburgers).

Class: Go find it!

***

Class: What’s for (lunch)?

S2: (Spaghetti) is for lunch.

***

Class : Where are you going?

S3 : I’m going to the (park).

***

Class: How are you going there?

S3 : I’m (riding a bicycle).

Class: Have fun!

Players

Two (2) or more (the more the merrier!)

Materials

picture cards

board

some magnets

a party hat (oversize) or blindfold

How to play

  1. Determine the order of play.
  2. In random, attach all the picture cards on the board.
  3. Instruct the players to remember the placement of each card.
  4. The first player takes his turn. He stands 12 steps (more is better) away from the board. The other players ask the question; for example, “What do you want? The first player answers “I want (a hamburger).” The other players answer back “Go, find it!”
  5. The first player puts on the over size hat (covering his or her face), and turns around three times.
  6. The other players give directions, starting with “Go straight!” “To your right!” “To your left!” etc. The aim is for the player to find the target by following directions given by other players.

Note : For large number of players, for example twenty (20) , it is best to group them into four (4) teams of five members each. One player will have to be blindfolded, while the other four members give the directions to find the target picture card.

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 or follow him on his blog, Mabuhay Classroom.

4 Comments

  1. Barbara says:

    What a fun idea, Marco. I especially love the tip about using an oversize hat instead of a blindfold. My students don’t like to be blindfolded, either, but I think they would enjoy wearing a big hat!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, Sali Alvarez. Sali Alvarez said: RT @ShellTerrell: PALAYOK: Reinvention of a Traditional Game for EFL Classrooms (by Marco Brazil) http://bit.ly/biaHBj via @barbsaka […]

  3. Mark Kulek says:

    I like the part where the kids remember the placement of the items on the whiteboard. If the students know ahead of time that they will have to get an item blindfolded, they will concentrate harder where on the whiteboard the items are placed, deeper memory. I’ll try it next week.

  4. Marufelia P. Dagondon says:

    Rico, thanks for sharing… we also have it (the original pukpuk sa palayok) here in Kenya played by children of Filipino mother or father.. as we wanted the kids to feel that they belong and also have the chance to play the traditional game of their parent(s)..

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