One of my most fond childhood memories is of playing on the beach with my brother.

Summers of my childhood were spent in a rented house at one of the wonderful Portuguese northern beaches. My parents always rented a house for a month, from local fishermen, and usually this would mean we were within walking distance to the beach.

Of course, when you spend the day at the beach and you are a child, you are bound to feel bored (especially if your parents made you wait 3 hours to get into the water, every time you had a meal 🙂 ).

So, my brother and I (along with cousins and/or friends), would try to keep ourselves entertained by playing all kinds of games. One of our favourites was “carica” which translates into “bottle cap”.

As its name suggests, this game’s main pieces are bottle caps. We would collect them overtime from the adults in our lives, and were very careful to keep them clean, smooth and rust-free. Sometimes, we even decorated them with markers so that other players didn’t accidentally take them away :).

MATERIALS NEEDED: bottle caps – one or two per player (they can be from beer/juice bottles or you can use the plastic ones from pop bottles).

Different sets of bottle caps. These bottle caps were painted so that players could quickly find their pieces.  These bottle caps have the initials of each player.

at the beach – beach towel, sand castle building tools (bucket, spade, etc), rocks, sticks, shells

on the dirt – stick to draw the racing track, any materials that can be used for obstacles (rocks, pieces of wood, etc)

on the yard – chalk to draw the racing track, any materials that can be used for obstacles (rocks, pieces of wood, etc)

indoors – masking tape to “draw” the racing track, materials that can be used for obstacles (books, rulers, chairs, etc)

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: minimum of two, but the more the merrier 🙂

SETTING: Bottle Cap is a fun and extremely entertaining racing game that can be played at the beach (in the sand) or at home/school (in the dirt or yard).

GOAL OF THE GAME: To be the first to get his/her bottle cap across the finish line.

HOW TO PLAY: There are two parts to this game: the setting up and the race. Both are quite fun, so I decided to separate them for the purpose of this post.

This part of the game is all part of the fun. It takes quite a bit of time to set up, which means that the children will be entertained for quite a while 🙂 .

The intricacy of the racing track depends on the imagination of the players. This activity develops problem solving skills, interpersonal skills and helps children express their artistic abilities.

There is no right or wrong way to set up the racing track, which makes it quite fun!!!

➠ At the beach

Spread a beach towel on the sand.

One player (preferably the smallest one) sits at one end of the towel, facing the other end, extending the legs, and grabbing the sides of the towel firmly.

Another player or an adult, grabs the end of the towel that is free and pulls the smaller player along the sand.

As the towel and player are dragged along the sand, they leave behind a small groove in the sand. This will be the track used to push the bottle caps through. At this point, the person pulling the towel should try to draw a complete circuit in the sand.

All players choose a section of the racing track to place their obstacles and start working. Some examples of obstacles that can be made out of sand are:

underground tunnels – dig 2 holes about 15 cm apart. When they are at least one hand deep, start digging the sand horizontally, in order to connect both holes. This will make a nice tunnel. Smooth the entrances so that they align with the rest of the track. The tunnel only works when dug in damp sand.

1- Start by digging 2 holes side by side.  2- With the help of a spade deepen the holes and slant the entrances towards the track.  3- When it is deep enough, start digging horizontally.  4- When the two entrances are connected, clear the remaining sand and smooth the path.  5- The finished tunnel!

winding mountains – place a big pile of sand in the middle of the track. With your hands, slap the sand all the way around so it becomes quite compact. With your fingers, draw a winding path along the “mountain”, making sure that you have a way in and a way out.

rock bridge – place two rocks, one on each side of the track. Place another bigger rock on top of the first two to form a bridge. The bottle caps will have to go under the bridge.

➠ Indoors, on the dirt and on the yard

Draw the racing track on the ground. Use a stick to drag around the dirt, chalk to draw on the yard, or masking tape to draw the circuit on the floors when playing indoors.

Place the obstacles along the track. Players can use all kinds of materials to make their obstacles (rocks, pieces of wood, empty plastic containers, toys, etc.). Use your imagination and have fun 😀

After deciding where the beginning of the track is, the players draw a line across the track and line all their bottle caps behind it. Players decide the order in which they will take their turns – youngest to oldest, girls first, numbers on the bottle caps, etc. They should also agree on how many laps the race will have.

Each player takes turns shooting their bottle caps 3 times in a row. To shoot the bottle caps, the players should start by positioning their hand on the floor sideways, behind their bottle cap. Then, they should make a  circle with the middle finger and thumb. Finally, they release the middle finger against the bottle cap. When the thumb holds the middle finger back and then releases it,  a springing force is produced that hits the bottle cap and makes it move.

The first player to cross the beginning line after completing the track the number of times required, wins. Good sportsmanship dictates that all players get a chance to complete the race.

CURRICULUM APPLICATIONS: This game has a lot of potential as a STEM project, in particular when students brainstorm and plan the set up. The circuit development could be made into a multi-lesson project that reinforces critical thinking skills, as students use their knowledge of math, science and technology to create obstacles for the race track.

I hope you liked reading about this game.

Do you have a particular childhood game you used to play? Share it with us by using the comments’ area below 😀

Take care,