The Classroom Package: Other Fun Stuff


The following is taken from The Culture Connection Newsletter, written by OneWorld Classrooms Director Paul Hurteau when he lived and taught in Limoncocha, Ecuador:

Barco: Ecua-Hopscotch

In my village here in the rain forest, the children play several variations of hopscotch [called rayuela (rah-you-way-lah) or rayuelita (rah-you-way-lee-tah) in Spanish].  Barco, a game mentioned in this issue's section of the poem, Children of the Amazon, is one variation in which the stone is not only thrown, but kicked as well.  It takes a little more coordination than the variety of hopscotch you may be familiar with, but after you get the gist of it, it's not too difficult.  I know from experience.  I've been defeated many times by my elementary students!

From a Backyard Game to a Worldwide Sport

As you may know, soccer is by far the most popular sport in South America - as it is in Africa and most parts of the world.  In my village here in the rain forest, Limoncocha, soccer is played by men, women, boys and girls - and most people in the community are excellent players.  Why are they so good?  Well, it might just have something to do with all that barco playing.  Barco is excellent for developing and sharpening soccer skills.   Still, the main reason it's the most popular children's game in Limoncocha is much simpler: it's just plain lots of fun.

Let's See, What Will I Be?

In Spanish, barco means 'boat.'  The game is called barco, then, since the shape of the playing board resembles a boat.  In  other versions of rayuelita (hopscotch) that children in Limoncocha play, the games are also named after the shape of the playing board.  For example, there is  muneca (moon-yay-cah) which means 'doll,' armelita (are-may-lee-tah) which means 'little gun,' conejo (coe-nay-hoe) which means 'rabbit' and florcita (floor-see-tah) which means 'little flower.'  In each case, the playing boards are made with rectangles, triangles, squares, circles, semi-circles and other shapes to resemble the thing the game is named after.

Do you realize that when you draw any of the shapes I just mentioned, you are doing math?  Geometry, to be precise.  Likewise, if you put these shapes together to form specific designs, you are creating art.  So, you could say that children who play barco and its variations might be preparing themselves for careers in soccer - or art - or math (or hopping, but usually there aren't very many jobs in that field).

Rules for Barco  
The following 'Rules for Barco' are  taken from The Culture Connection Newsletter Teacher's Guide by Paul Hurteau.)


Rayuela means 'hopscotch' in Spanish, from the word raya which means 'line.'  There are many different versions of rayuela (florcita - little flower, armelita - little gun, muneca - doll, and conejo - rabbit, just to name a few), most of which are named after the shape of the playing surface. Barco is a popular version of rayuela that adds the soccer-like skill of balancing while kicking the stone. Barco means 'boat' and is called such since the shape of its playing surface resembles a boat.  (Actually, there are even different versions of barco.)

Playing Barco

Before the throwing and kicking begin, first you have to draw the board.  The playing board for barco is a rectangle about 6' by 4' (or bigger/smaller if you choose) divided into six equal sized rectangles.  The rectangle on the bottom right has a semicircle extending from it adjacent to the starting point which is at the bottom left. The order of the boxes is bottom to top in the left row, then top to bottom in the right row.  Children usually draw the board on the ground with a stick (though chalk on pavement will work fine).

Any number of children can play, but if more than four play on the same board, some players may have to wait a long time for their turn.  (With large groups, it might be better just to draw another board and divide the group).  Each player finds a stone (usually flat) to play with.  After players decide the order, the first player stands at the starting point (bottom left) facing the top of the board and throws her stone into the first box.  If the stone lands outside the box or on a line, the player 'gets burned' (the kids yell quema which means 'burn' or 'it burns') and her turn is over.  If the stone lands in the correct box, then she hops into the same box on one foot, and attempts to kick the stone with her hopping foot into the second box.  If the stone lands outside the playing board, on a line or in any other box besides the ones kicking from or to, the player gets burned and her turn is over. If the stone lands in the second box, the player hops into the second box and tries to kick the stone into the third box, and so on.  Multiple hops and kicks (or kick attempts) are allowed in the same box, but if the player touches a line while hopping or kicking, or touches the ground with both feet at the same time, she gets burned and her turn is over.  After hopping into the last space, the semicircle, the player kicks the stone out of the playing board, then picks it up.

Next, she throws the stone from the starting point into the second box, hops into the first, then the second, kicks the stone into the third, and so on until she kicks the stone out again.  She keeps going like this until it is her turn to throw the stone into the semicircle.  If she gets burned at any point in this process, her turn is over and in her next turn she starts throwing into the same box where she left off.

When a player reaches the point where he has to throw into the semicircle, he throws from the top of the playing board on the right side (instead of from the starting point).  If he doesn't get burned on the throw, then he goes back to the starting point, hops around the board on one foot and kicks the stone out of the semicircle.

At this point the player has finished one round and gets a chance to win a 'house' (una casa) where he can rest his weary bones.
To win a house, the player goes to the top right of the board, turns so his back is facing the board, and tosses the stone over his shoulder (without looking).  If the stone lands cleanly (without touching a line) in a box that isn't already someone else's house, that box becomes his house and he draws an X in it.  If the stone lands outside the playing board or on a line, he gets one more try.  If the second throw lands outside the playing board or on a line, he gets burned and his turn is over.  On his next turn, he starts by trying to get a house again (two more attempts).

Once a player gets a house, no other players can throw a stone or hop into that house.  If they do, they get burned.  The owner of the house, however, has to step into his house (with both feet on the ground) - and, so, gets to rest there for a few seconds before continuing.  If the owner doesn't rest in his own house (or houses), he gets burned.  The owner cannot throw his stone in his own house without getting burned.

A player can win more than one house.  The game continues until all houses are won - or until all agree to stop.

Voila!  There you have it.  Hoppy playing.

Barco Curriculum Connections   Physical Education Connection

If you haven't got time to teach barco in class, why not ask the gym teacher to teach it to your students while you're doing your rain forest or South America unit.  You can do the same as you move around the world in the curriculum: Introduce your gym teacher to the book, Hopscotch Around the World by Mary D. Lankford, and each time you do a country/region of the world unit, ask the gym teacher to teach your students the corresponding hopscotch version.  (It's an excellent book!) Your school's soccer coach may also be interested in teaching barco to his/her players since it's a fun way to sharpen their skills.

Note: In Ecuador, children acquire the skills of barco  over many years of playing it.  Students should not expect to be proficient on the first (or tenth) try. Like any other acquired skill, it takes lots of practice.

From a Backyard Game to a Worldwide Sport

Research/Writing Project:  Have students research popular sports and games that are played in different regions of the world.  In addition to a general report, students could write the specific rules and regulations of the sport/game. If not too complicated or requiring special equipment, students could even attempt to play the games they research in a  "Games Around the World" festival.

 Discussion: What sports are most popular in different countries of the world?  What children's games/activities, like barco, might sharpen skills also found in professional sports?

Let's See, What Will I Be?

Math/Art Activity: As mentioned above, different versions of rayuela are usually named by the shape of the playing surface. Usually these shapes are made of various combinations of geometric figures like squares, rectangles, ovals, semi-circles and triangles. Challenge your students to draw a doll, a gun, a flower, a rabbit and other figures using only geometric shapes, keeping in mind that hopscotchers have to jump from shape to shape, sometimes with one foot and sometimes with two. Comparing student drawings will emphasize that there is often more than one solution to a problem. Challenge students to create an original version of hopscotch using one of their original geometrically designed figures. If your students are learning Spanish, have them give their hopscotch version a Spanish name.

Related Discussion: Barco helps kids who play it to become better soccer players. How do children's games, everyday activities and even school prepare students for different professions?

Math Connection: Create math problems using sports statistics.  Let students generate the statistics and the problems.




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