Traditional Games

There are a wide range of traditional games and activities that reflect the rich cultural heritage of our Indigenous peoples and communities across Canada. We’ve provided a few for you here to try, but you can check out this resource for more inspiration. Many of the traditional games put children in touch with nature. Indigenous people in Canada have always had a special bond with their natural environments and for many years, depended entirely upon Mother Earth for their survival. Many games were introduced to children by elders to help them learn and develop skills necessary for survival, building strength and agility, hunting and gathering food in harsh weather environments. Many of these games also help children increase their physical activity levels while strengthening their sense of culture and tradition. While some communities may use these games and activities for play, other communities may view these activities as part of sacred tradition. When using the activities be respectful of the use of the activities in your community. Speak to an elder or community leader to see which games are appropriate to play in their community.

Two-Foot High Kick

100 points

Begin with a running/standing approach with feet no more than shoulder width apart at take off. The target must be clearly struck with both feet kept parallel. Maintaining balance and control, one must land on both feet at the same time with feet no more than shoulder width apart.

Materials Needed:
  • A small soft ball that is light and can be kicked with a foot, which is suspended by a rope/string from the horizontal arm of the stand or alternate means

Snow snake

100 points

Mark a release or starting line. Swing and let go of a long smooth object so it slides across the floor/snow-ground surface from the release point as far as you can possibly make it go.

Materials Needed:
  • Snowsnake, broomstick handle, snowtrack OR a long and slippery surface like a snowy sidewalk or not-so-busy road/driveway

Additional Tips:
  • A winter-based game, participants each take a turn throwing a long stick across a flat, snowy area.

  • The participant whose spear glides the furthest, wins the game.

  • Traditionally, the “spear” is made from birch or willow branch and is up to 1.2 m long, with one end being sharpened to a point.

Choose Your Challenge:
  • Try different sized sticks.

Highlight Reel:
  • Build your own snowsnake track and/or snowsnake.

Running Game ( Klamath )

100 points

Players line up behind a starting line. Taking a deep breath, they run as far as they can while yelling loudly. When a player runs out of breath they must stop and stand still. The player running the furthest before running out of breath wins.

Materials Needed:
  • 2 or more people, a starting line

Additional Tips:
  • The participants stand behind a starting line, take a deep breath and run, yelling loudly.

  • Once the players run out of breath, they stand still.

  • The player who runs the farthest before running out of breath wins.

Choose Your Challenge:
  • Try and run backwards or try and sing a song, or use animal calls.

Highlight Reel:
  • Do it with your whole family.