Traditional Play FTW: Indigenous Board Games For Children

NCERT report says, traditional indigenous games teach valuable skills combining mental and physical wellbeing. Read to know more!

Remember the days Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, Chess, Marbles and so many more were our everyday game sessions. Cut to today, where kids have online gaming sessions and they don’t even need to be together. When we played around, we used to think those were just games but turns out many of the skills we’ve subconsciously picked up may be from them. And this is why you should encourage your kids to start enjoying them too. This NCERT report supports and propagates this methodology.

Why Are These Indigenous Games Important?

Traditional indigenous games teach valuable skills combining mental and physical wellbeing.
India has a rich culture consisting of games played on ground and board games. Some of the Indian games have also received international recognition. Did you know most of the board games we know today were originated from India? Let’s delve into the different games and the benefits of each.

Board Games:

These are the games which can be played on the floor or on a tabletop for example checker, chess, pachisi, chaupar, ludo, etc. These games typically use movable pieces placed on a pre-marked board (playing surface) and often include elements of tables, cards, role-playing, and miniatures games as well. In board games, usually a minimum of two players are required, but it can increase respectively.

These games help in developing the following competencies and skills:
• Planning
• Problem Solving
• Decision Making
• Logical Thinking
• Reflective Thinking
• Emotional Intelligence
• How to Deal with Mistakes
• Deferring Gratification
• Cooperation
• Competition


Chaupar is an ancient game widely considered to be originated in India. It is an Indian game of 14th Century.

Pedagogic Importance: It may be used to develop mathematical skills, strategizing, decision- making, concentration, etc.


Ludo game has its origin in the ancient Gupta Empire that existed in the sixth century in India, where it started as the Pachisi game.

Pedagogic Importance: It may be used to develop mathematical skills, decision-making, concentration, etc.


It is an ancient game mostly played in South India. It actually originated from Tamil Nadu but
was later played in other southern states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka and even
in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Pedagogic Importance: It helps in developing observation skills, analytical thinking, planning and developing strategies, and problem solving.


Chess, which originated in India, is one of the world’s most popular strategy games.

Pedagogic Importance: It can be used for students at the middle and secondary stages. Playing chess promotes brain growth–specifically, it fuels dendrite growth, and it stimulates both sides of the brain. In addition, Chess develops a plethora of valuable skills, including focus and concentration, planning and foresight, logical thinking, etc.

Street Games:

These are usually simple play time activities for children in the most convenient venues. Some street games have risen to the level of organized tournaments, such as Kabaddi and Kho- Kho. Remember the good ol’ days? These were the things we played till every drop of our energy was used. When street games are based on organized sports, the rules are highly modified to fit the situation. Let’s go back to memory lane and revive some old games.


Lattoo is a popular game played in India using a spinning top. This simple game came into existence in 3500 BC.

Pedagogic Importance: Principles of circular motion, centre of gravity etc. can be learnt with the help of Lattoo in a play way manner.

Stapoo /Hopscotch:

This hopping game is a popular outdoor game in many states of India. In Tamil Nadu, it is famous by the name Nondi.

Pedagogic Importance: It is a group game. It is also popular as Kith Kith game. Through this game children can learn the skills of balance, precision and decision making.


Lagori (pitthu), game involves a rubber ball and a pile of seven flat stones stacked upon one another.

Pedagogic Importance: This game leads to development of problem solving, team spirit, decision making, eye-hand coordination, etc.


Gutte is a game, which is generally played by children with their friends in the neighbourhood or in the streets.

Pedagogic Importance: It is simple and inexpensive. Any number of people can play this game. This game may be used to develop and enhance eye-hand coordination, concentration, decision-making, etc.,


Kancha is another interesting and inexpensive game in India. It is a favourite game among children and adolescents, and is played using coloured glass marbles known as ‘Kancha’.

Pedagogic Importance– Kancha may be customised to strengthen children’s foundational literacy and numeracy. Children love to learn while playing. Kancha helps in developing eyehand coordination and fine and gross motor skills.

Games Included At The International Level:


Kabaddi is a team sport of India.

Pedagogic Importance: Playing Kabaddi, children develop physical stamina and control over their breathing. They also learn decision making along with building muscles, increasing the lung capacity necessary for fitness and to hold the long notes in songs, burning off extra energy and releasing any stress.

Kho Kho:

Kho Kho is a popular street game invented in India.

Pedagogic Importance: Playing Kho-Kho, children develop physical stamina and they also learn decision making through this game.

Gilli Danda:

Gilli Danda is a thrilling game which originated in India. This game requires two sticks.

Pedagogic Importance: This helps in enhancing Eye-hand coordination, decision-making, estimation and measurement of distance, and also in learning concepts related to projectile
motion, etc.

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