Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PALAYOK : Reinvention of a Traditional Game for EFL Classrooms

Ask any Filipino about Pukpok Palayok or Hampas Palayok, and chances are they played it or saw it played at least once during their childhoods. The game is so immensely popular that any celebration or town fiesta is not complete without children (oh yes, sometimes adults) playing it. Having colonized by the Spaniards for three hundred and thirty three years, Pukpok Palayok is the Filipino version of Pinata, and just like the fiesta, Spaniards used the game to attract the natives to their ceremonies and convert them to their religion. The Filipinos, known for reinventing things to suit their needs out of limited resources, adapted it by using a clay pot instead of the Mexican painted paper Pinata. In those times paper and paints were scarce and expensive, whereas clay pots were plentiful and cheap.

In the Philippines, pukpok means to hit, and palayok is a clay pot, so the game literally means to hit a pot. Traditionally, the game is played with the decorated clay pot filled with goodies (candies, sweets, coins, and sometimes peso bills), suspended by string in the air, high enough for players to reach and smash it. A player is blindfolded and a  long bamboo stick is used to hit and break the pot, so that other players as well as by-standers can grab as many goodies as they can. The player who breaks the clay pot wins a prize, usually a gift or in currency.

For EFL classrooms, Pukpok Palayok uses no clay pot, nor a bamboo stick. Instead, the game makes use of the white board, picture cards (with magnets attached at the back), and an ovesize party hat (my children hate to be blindfolded with a handkerchief). In this adaptation, hitting is not  permitted; children make use of their sense of directions, understanding of the commands given, and using their hands to feel for the targets. In my experience, the game works wonderfully for preschoolers, for teaching the alphabet, colors, shapes, animals, fruits and vegetables. While for elementary graders, it works very well for practicing specific target language like; ("I'm hungry! What do you want? I want ... Go find it!" or "Where are you going? I'm going to ... Go find it!"). In addition to target language, this is also a great way to reinforce language for giving directions like: go straight, to your left, to your right, stop, that's it,

Target Language
S1 :       I'm hungry!
Class :   What do you want?
S1 :       I want (a hamburger).
Class :   Go find it!

S1 :       What's for lunch?
Class :  (Spaghetti) is for lunch.
             Do you want (spaghetti)?
S1 :       Yes, please.
Class :   Go find it!

Class :    Where are you going?
S1 :        I'm going to the (park).
Class :    How are you going there?
S1 :        I'm (riding a bicycle).
Class :    Have fun!

Two (2) or more the merrier

picture cards
a party hat (oversize) or a blidfold

How to play
1.  Determine the order of play.
2.  In random, using the magnets. attach all the picture cards on the board.
3.  Instruct the players to remember the placements of each card.
4.  The first player takes his turn. He stands 12 steps (more is better) away from
     the  board. The  other  players ask the question; for example, "What do you  
     want?" The first player answers "I want (a hamburger). The other players                
     answer back "Go find it!"
5.  The first player puts on the oversize hat (covering his face), and turns around
     three (3) times.
6.  The other players give directions, starting with "Go straight!" or "To your
     right!" "To your left!" etc.

     The aim is for the player to find the target by following directions given by
     players (class).