When you’re moving to Australia with kids, you want to do everything you can to help them settle in. The last thing you want is for them to feel left out at school because they don’t understand something. We moved over with very young kids (our twin boys were four and started school four months after we arrived, and our daughter was two) but even though our kids were little, they still felt awkward when games they’d never heard of were mentioned. I was with them on their first school trip in prep when it was announced that we’d play duck, duck, goose during the break time and none of us had any idea what it was!
Over the last three years in Australia, we’ve picked up lots of new games. Here’s a few of them:
Australian games your kids will play when you emigrate
All of these are fun outdoor games for kids. The better weather here and the sheer number of parks everywhere means they have a lot more opportunities to play outside than in the UK.
Duck, Duck, Goose
The kids sit in a big circle facing each other. One person is ‘it’ and they walk around the outside of the circle and tap the heads of the people sitting in the circle, calling them a “duck” or a “goose”. As soon as they call someone a “goose” that person has to get up and run after them and try to catch them as they run around the outside of the circle before they get back to their spot and sit down. If they don’t catch them, they are ‘it’ and they walk around and decide who is a duck and who is a goose.
Similar to what we used to call British Bulldog at school in the UK, one person is ‘it’ and they stand in the middle of the play zone while the rest of the kids line up together opposite. The person who is ‘it’ can call kids by shouting out for people wearing a certain colour, people whose names begins with a certain letter, or people with brown hair etc. The kids in this group then need to run across to the other side of the pitch without being tagged. The kid who is ‘it’ can also call “bullrush” and all of the kids have to run across to the opposite side of the pitch together. Anyone who is tagged stays in the middle and tries to tag other kids. It seems a lot less dangerous here than I remember it being at my school!
This is a pool game where the person who is ‘it’ is blindfolded in the water. They have to try to catch the other people in the pool. When the person who is ‘it’ says “Marco” the other people all have to say “Polo” and this helps guide them to catch their friends. If someone gets tagged, they are ‘it’. At any stage, the person who is ‘it’ can call “Fish out of water” if they suspect anyone is out of the water. The person who is ‘it’ can open their eyes and if there are people out of the water they are out. It’s a crazy game that can quickly turn manic! Lots of public pools ban it for this reason but it’s a great party game.
This is played obsessively at our school and it involves a small rubber ball being hit between groups of kids by their hands. Seriously, about 80% of the kids play it in the mornings while waiting to go into class. There are proper rules to this, but at our school you just get two to four kids hitting the ball between them with their hands and they don’t really bother keeping any score. Getting your kids their own handball is a good idea when they start school as it means they will always have something to play with and once people see them messing around with a ball they will instantly have new friends! It’s also worth writing their name on the ball with a Sharpie too otherwise you will spend you life buying new balls.
We play this at the surf club Nippers sessions each week. You have a circle of people with some in the middle. We play it with parents on the outside and kids in the middle, or kids on the outside and parents in the middle. Then a number of balls are thrown at those in the middle. If it hits a player below the shoulders or knee (depending on how you’re playing it) then that player is out and they join those on the edge of the circle until there is one winner.