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,