Games from Around the World

We've been wanting to do this theme for a while as it can add a educational aspect to a very fun event. We've made a small start and would appreciate your input to expand our list. We've tried to separate out the games by the area of the world they come from. Of course, many games are similar in different parts of the world, so we've just selected one or two variations. 

We've adapted the games to fit into a carnival setting, so they may be less than 100% authentic. At the end of this section we've listed some of our sources so you can find more information about the games. 

See our Carnival Game Ideas page for more ideas that you can adapt to your Around the World theme.


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sumo wrestling - japan

Many game rental companies offer "Sumo Suits" that can be worn for Sumo-style fun.

chopsticks challenge - china

The player must try to carry small items (such as cotton balls) from one bowl to another without dropping them. You could give a prize based on how many items the player can transfer without dropping them. This originated as a relay game in China. 

Hunting the Ring - Korea

Players probe a large pile of sand with long sticks in search of a hidden ring. The winner is the one who gets the ring on their stick and lifts it out of the sand. If you try this game, watch out for poles in the eye.  

jegi chagi or shuttlecock kicking - korea

In the traditional game, the player tries to keep a shuttlecock in the air by kicking it. You could have the player try to drop kick shuttlecocks into a target.


toen younin - ghana

This is an archery game where the player tries to hit a pile of stalks placed on an earth mound a distance away. You could use a foam archery set and set up cardboard cut-outs of grass stalks as your targets.

chasikelen - ghana

Make a target that is either has a hole or a tube to throw into. Post a guard with a stick (or small bat) in front of the target. The guard tries to bat the ball away while the player tries to throw the ball past the guard and into the target.

simbii - kenya

The player tries to throw ten buttons consecutively into a hole 5-6 yards away. 

Web Sites to Explore:


Traditional Games of England:




Games From Guides in UK:



W.E. C.A.R.E. Sports:



Games with Marbles:



ice fishing

Set up like a regular fishing pond game, except make an "ice floe" out of white fabric or a sheet of styrofoam. Cut a hole in the "ice" for the fish to be caught.

nalukauq - blanket tossing

The traditional version calls for many people to hold a blanket or seal skins and see how high they can toss a person in the air. Fun, but maybe a little dangerous for a school carnival. The object of our version of the game would be to put a doll on a blanket and then toss the doll into the air and into a target such as a basket. An alternate version would be to see how high they could toss the doll and still catch it in the blanket. You could have height markers on the wall to measure the highest toss.

This game is very similar to the Spanish game of Pelele, where a straw dummy is tossed with a blanket. 

Central and South America

hit the coin - brazil

Place a 12- to 18-inch bamboo stick (or use a dowel) into the ground (you could make a stand or use a Christmas tree stand indoors). Draw a circle about five inches in diameter around the pole. Place a coin or bottle cap on top of the stick. the players stands about four feet away from the stick and tries to knock the object off the stick by throwing a coin at it. The object is to knock the coin off the stick to the outside of the 5 inch circle.

Peteca - brazil

Peteca is best described as badminton without the racquets. The players use their hands to hit the special shuttlecock over a net. Your game could use a traditional Peteca, but the player tries to land it in a target, such as a basket.


aunt sally -england

The object of the game is to knock "Aunt Sally" off a post by tossing wooden dowels with rounded ends. Aunt Sally is represented by a piece of wood that looks like a fence-topper. See http://www.mastersgames.com/cat/pub/aunt-sally.htm for an example of gear and instructions on how to play.

 Shove ha'penny - england

There seems to be two versions of this game. In the first, you push a ha'penny with the heel of your hand down a long table, seeing who can get closest to the end without falling off. In the other, more formal version, you again shove a ha'penny, but must try to land it between grooves in the board. Masters Games has a version for you to see at http://www.mastersgames.com/cat/pub/shove-hapenny.htm. Of course, if you haven't got a ha'penny, a penny will do.

sjoelbak - holland

Similar to shuffleboard, the player tries to slide disks down a long playing board and through small arches at the end of the board. Commercial versions are available, or you could make your own. See http://www.tradgames.org.uk/games/ShovelBoard.htm#Sjoelbak for an example.

quilles - france

This is the French version of ten-pins or skittles. You hang a rope with a ball attached so that the ball just touches the floor. Use ten plastic blowing pins or 2-liter soda bottles as the pins. The player tries to swing the rope and knock down the pins with the ball. 

boccie - italy

This is an Italian game of lawn bowling that has many variations around the world. In Boccie, a target ball, called the "jack," is rolled out and then the players try to position their balls nearest to the jack. A carnival version could have a jack set up inside colored rings. The player would try to land their ball in the color closest to the jack.

golf - scotland

A game of mini golf is right at home in Scotland. 

hoops - greece

The game operator rolls a hula hoop in front of the player while the player tries to throw a ball through the hoop without touching it.

kubb or koob - sweden

Very popular in Sweden, Kubb is a cross between lawn bowling, horseshoes, and chess. The rules can vary, but generally consist of throwing wooden batons to knock down blocks of wood. One larger block is the "king," and must be knocked down after the smaller blocks. To adapt for a carnival, have the player throw round dowels to try and knock down blocks of wood. For more info, see http://www.kubbin.com. (Mention Schoolcarnivals and you can receive a discount if purchasing a Kubb game for educational or carnival use.)


North America

toli - native americans

Toli is a version of stickball or lacrosse. Each player has two sticks with a basket on the end to carry the ball (called the towa). Like lacrosse, the object of the game is to throw the ball into the goal using your sticks. A carnival version could require the player to throw a ball into a goal using a lacrosse stick.

curling - canada

While the origins of Curling may be in Scotland, the game is fantastically popular in Canada. In brief, a curling team tries to slide a "stone" down a sheet of ice and have it stop as near as possible to the center of a set of rings (called the "house"). The opposition works to stop the team from achieving this goal. Since your carnival may not have access to a sheet of ice, there are versions available to play on carpet. For one example, see http://www.handilifesport.com/engelsk/curling.htm.

Hathamoune (corn cob darts) - native americans

The target for this dart-throwing game is a ball made out of leaves (you could cover a styrafoam ball with fake leaves). The darts are made from corn cobs, with feathers on one end a a sharp stick at the other end. The object is to stand a distance from the ball and pierce it with the darts. 

ice hockey - canada

Again, you may not have ice, but you can still have hockey. Use a kids hockey set. Mark out numbers with tape (or use chalk outside) that correspond to prizes. The player hits the puck with the stick and gets a prize corresponding to the number the puck lands on.  


See our Tropical theme for more ideas.

boomerang toss - australia

Instead of a Frisbee toss, try a Boomerang toss. Set up a target for the boomerang to either pass through or land on.

bounce eye - australia

This is a game of marbles in which the player drops a "shooter" marble from eye level to try to knock marbles out of a 1 foot circle. For a carnival, a prize could be awarded based on the number of marbles knocked out after three tries. 

Bowling The Maika Stone - Hawaii

In this bowling-type game, a heavy, flat, stone disk (about the size of a Frisbee) is rolled through two sticks stuck in the ground a few inches apart. Experts could roll the stones through from 100 yards! You could make a version with safety cones as your "sticks" and round pieces of wood (available from Home Depot) that you spray paint to look like stones.