Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
A place for poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world for both kids and grown-ups to enjoy!

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Articles about 'Games Around the World'
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Playing real video games for fun is a great way to improve your foreign language skills. I’m talking about games you’d want to play in your own language, not specifically language learning games. There are many fun games that are available in many different languages. I’m an early advanced French learner, so I understand enough […]
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The Moribayassa is a dance of the Malinke people of West Africa.  It’s danced in Guinea, Mali and other West African countries.  When women need help with something very important -like becoming pregnant or healing from a sickness- they ask the spirit of Moriba Yassa for help.  The woman vows that when the wish is […]
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Did you know that Japanese people do a circle dance to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw"? The version of the tune they dance to is a little slower and they call it the "Oklahoma Mixer"! Sadao Mazuka wrote to us about it from Japan: "In the description on Wikipedia, they say: ‘A slower […]
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Do you remember doing the Bunny Hop? I learnt it as a kid in the early ’70’s in dance class.  The Bunny Hop and the Finnish Folk Dance called "Letkajenkka" (aka Letkis) are nearly identical.  Both became a dance craze around the world. The Bunny Hop became popular in the early 1950’s.  The Ray Anthony […]
Maria wrote asking for info about the song, "Zimbole".  Here’s her email: I have been trying in vain to find the meaning of the African folk song “Zimbole”.  I believe it’s an Zulu word for peace but I’m not sure and I can’t find any information anywhere!   There are videos on youtube of kids singing […]
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Ray Lee, who grew up in Hong Kong, wrote, "We played all these when we were kids… The bottom right is Chinese Chess. Adults play that too. The other three are for kids. They don’t really have English names. Top left is 鬥獸棋 (Jungle). It’s like chess in that there are two opposing players/sides and […]
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I’m so excited!  I just discovered a major collection of online recordings of children’s singing games! Iona and Peter Opie are among the world’s top collectors of English nursery rhymes and kids songs.  When working on Mama Lisa’s World, I refer to their research quite a bit.  They published one of the most comprehensive collections […]
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Design Resource has a great site about children’s games in India.  The site includes instructions for indoor and outdoor games.  The indoor games include hand-clapping rhymes and games played with stones and shells.  The outdoor games include circle games and other types of games played outside. Check it out! Mama Lisa
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Duck, Duck, Goose is a game every English-speaking kindergartener knows.  In other cultures, there’s a similar game called Drop the Handkerchief.  Here’s the difference… Duck, Duck, Goose To play Duck, Duck, Goose the kids sit in a circle except for the one who’s "It".  The person who is "It" goes around tapping each child’s head […]
Bob Anderson wrote looking for help with a Swedish childhood rhyme.  Here’s his question: Do you know of a children’s verse my dad (born 1879) used to do with the grandkids?  He would bounce them on his knees, holding their hands, and at the climax, open his knees and drop them down as if to […]
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Vanuatu is a country that consists of a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. There’s a kids game that’s played there called, "What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?"  This game is played throughout the English-speaking world. How to play "What’s the Time Mr. Wolf": The kids go around in a circle like a clock. […]
Anigur is a traditional musical game in Mauritania that’s been around for a long time.  Two people dance and duel with sticks to a beat.  The spectators play the drums or clap to encourage them on. This game is played more for amusement than anything else.  It’s played at weddings and special events too. You […]
Play the Great Language Game by trying to identify some eighty languages by their sound alone. It’s very challenging.  Check it out!
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This summer we brought our kids to see "The Art of the Brick" at Discovery Times Square in New York City. It features Nathan Sawaya’s Lego artwork.   Here’s my 12 year old daughter’s assessment of the show… Nathan Sawaya’s Lego sculptures are truly works of art. They are well built and neatly sculpted brick by […]
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Etegami is a Japanese style of drawing with a written message on it. Etegami artist Debbie created the drawing here which contains the Japanese phrase "otenki uranai".  That basically means "a trick for prophesying the weather."  Here’s what Debbie wrote about the weather trick: "When I was little, the neighborhood kids and I followed an […]
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Who remembers the expression "I love you with a cherry on top"?  I remember saying it to my mother either to express love or to butter her up if I wanted something! You can make the expression even stronger, by adding more and more toppings as if your love was an ice cream sundae.  You […]
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Variations of the choosing game Rock, Paper Scissors can be found all over the world.  The Korean version is "kai, bai, bo" (sometimes pronounced "gawi, bawi, bo").  In Korean, the order is different.  It’s always: "Scissors (가위 – kai)", "Rock (바위 – bai)" and "Paper (보 – bo)".  You can see a youtube of the […]
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Laba is a Chinese festival that has traditionally started off the Chinese New Year preparations. It’s on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. Agnes wrote about it from China: "We eat Laba Rice Porridge and Laba Garlic for the Laba Festival. Laba Porridge is made of mixed grains and corns, like peanuts, chestnuts, […]
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One step at a time we can help change the world.  Take the example of Playpower… "People need affordable learning games.  Worldwide, 4.1 billion people earn under $3,000 per year, meaning that even a $100 computer is often out of reach for the world’s emerging middle class. Playpower is targeting a $10 platform that makes […]
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The Ring on a String Game is a traditional game that’s played in many countries.  Sometimes it’s called Hunt the Ring.  Here’s how you play… 1. Slip a ring on a long string and tie both ends. To determine the length of the string, you need to use about 24" of string (50cm+) per player. […]
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