When reflecting upon my childhood experiences as a Portuguese young girl, I often remember the games we played during school recess.

It is with great longing that I relive the laughter, happiness and yes, DRAMA, of those fun games.

There were no such things as video games, game cards or other fancy toys. Most children’s families could barely afford food and clothing, much less toys.

Some of us more fortunate ones had a doll or two (or a car if you were a boy) and we cherished them quite a bit.

Anyway, as part of my kids upbringing, I try to teach them traditional and popular Portuguese games. This Summer, I decided to research a little more and teach them (and any other child that might be interested) the games that brightened my childhood years.

I will be presenting one game at a time, so be sure to come back and look for more games. These games are sure to make the delights of your children and/or students.

The first game I will be exploring with you is the “Stretch” game that gave the name to this post.

Depending on where you live in Portugal, you can have different names for this game. In the portion of the Northern region where I grew up, it is “Estica” which means “Stretch”.

I taught it to my children a few weeks ago and all they want to do now is to play it. We even got Daddy to come out and join us!!! Lots of laughter and healthy exercise was had by the whole family.

Here’s how the game works:

MATERIALS NEEDED: You will need 3 jump ropes or broomsticks. (We used to use sticks we found lying around)

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: Minimum 3 children. No maximum! The more the merrier 🙂

SETTING: Outdoors (beach, school yard, grassy areas) or indoors (school gymnasium).

GOAL OF THE GAME: To stretch the distance between the ropes as much as possible, while still being able to jump between them.

1-150x150-2441140Place the ropes on the floor, parallel to each other and at a distance of about 1 foot from each other.

2-150x150-3215383Have the children all line up a fair distance away from one side of the ropes.

3-150x150-2446670One by one the children take turns stepping over each of the ropes, putting only one foot in each space between the ropes.

4-150x150-9329794If a student touches or steps on a rope, he/she is automatically disqualified and has to sit the rest of the game. (To avoid hurt feelings, I usually suggest that the children that have to leave, become referees and verify if the others have stepped on the ropes or not.)

5-150x150-2855014The last child in the line up is called the “Estica” (Stretch). He/she needs to stop  after taking the last step. The other players move the rope closer to the Stretch’s foot to the spot where his first foot last landed. This will start stretching the space in between the ropes.

6-150x150-3045018The children line up again on the opposite side they started on and repeat the exercise.

7-150x150-6615653As the game progresses, the distance between the ropes will increase. This will make the exercise more demanding and difficult to complete. Also, after a certain point, the children will have to start running to gain speed and be able to jump further. Whoever can’t keep up, will have to be disqualified.

8-150x150-6312982The game ends when only one child remains. This child will be the next Stretch. The ropes are placed in their initial position and the game restarts.

Sometimes, the Stretch cannot make its own challenge. The child that is able to supplant the Stretch becomes the new Stretch.

CURRICULUM APPLICATIONS: This game would be a great addition to your Phys. Ed. or PDA curriculum. It involves physical activity, but it also demands cooperation and negotiation skills 😉

These are just the basic rules for the game. The beauty of these games is that children can negotiate their own rules.

For example, my son is quite athletic and being the oldest child, it is quite hard for my daughters to overcome his stretch (to be honest, I cannot do it either 😀 ). So, in order to be fair and making sure everyone got some fun, we agreed that his first stretches would be quite unimpressive. This way both my girls were able to play and not feel like they aren’t good enough 🙂

Here are some photos of our family playing Stretch.

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Take care,