Kids Activities

From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Elgin International Festival will offer different free kids games and art activities representing different world cultures every hour on the hour. The kids activities will be located in the grassy area just outside the Heritage Ballroom.

Please see the schedule at the event for exact times for each activity:


Game: Go-Go-Im

If you were to visit Israel in the summer, you might find children playing Go-Go-Im with the small smooth pits of fresh apricots (known as go-gos). Players use shoe boxes that have had six holes cut into the top. The holes vary in size from barely bigger than an apricot to very large. Each hole is given a point value that corresponds to how difficult it is to toss a pit into the hole. These point values can range from one (larger hole) to 200 (smallest hole). Children carry around their boxes full of pits, challenging one another to matches in which they take turns tossing their pits into the holes in their boxes.

Art: Lod Mosaic

Mosaic was widely used on religious buildings and palaces in early Islamic art, including Islam’s first great religious building, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.


Game: Catch the Dragon Tail

In China large groups of children enjoy gather together to play Catch the Dragon’s Tail. After forming a human chain by getting in line and placing their hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them, the leader of the line plays the dragon’s head and tries to tag the dragon’s tail, which is played by the last child in line. The task is made more difficult by the fact that the children behind the dragon’s head are trying to prevent the dragon’s head from catching the tail. When the head catches the tail, the children switch positions so that everyone gets a chance to be either the head or the tail.

Art: Gyotaku Fish Painting

Gyotaku (pronounced ghio-TA-koo), or fish painting, may have originated in Japan or China in the early 1800’s. Fish prints have been used in Japan for over 100 years to keep records of fish catches and to learn about fish biology. This record-keeping technique became an art form that has spread around the world. The art of Gyotaku helps students understand and appreciate the beauty and diversity of fish characteristics. It is also a good review of fish morphology.


Game: Pass the Parcel

An adult will wrap a simple gift in multiple layers of wrapping paper or newspaper. The more layers you use, the more fun you have. Children then stand or sit in a circle and pass the parcel around while music is playing. When the music stops, the child holding the parcel removes one layer of wrapping paper. This continues until the final layer of wrapping is removed, at which point the player unwrapping the final layer get to keep the gift inside the parcel.

Art: Crown, Crown, Goblet, Cup


Game: Mancala

Mancala is believed to be the oldest game in the world. It was played in as many countries on the continent as there is variations of it. If you don’t recognize the name, it is probably because it has been called everything from Kigogo in Kenya to Oware in Ghana. How does it work? First you need a Mancala board with holes arranged in either two or four rows. Small stones or seeds were used in earlier days; today using marbles is common. The name Mancala literally means “to transfer” in Arabic, so the aim is to move your stones around so that you can capture more than your opponent. It is fun but also strategic like chess. The game is still played and enjoyed today by children and adults alike across the globe.

Art: African patterns (done with stamps)


Game: “Toma Toda” or “Pirinola”

Using a six-sided top called a pirinola, the game can be played with two or more players. Each player needs ten tokens or beans or candies. Everyone puts one token into a center pile to start, and then one player spins the top. When it falls, he/she follows the instructions facing up.

These are the traditional instructions:

Toma uno – Take one (token from the pile)
Toma dos – Take two (tokens from the pile)
Toma todo – Take it all (the whole pile)
Pon uno – Put one (token in the pile)
Pon dos – Put two (tokens in the pile)
Todos ponen – Everyone puts a token in the pile

When toma toda comes up, in order to continue, everyone must put one token in the pile. Play continues until one person has all the tokens.

Art: Jose Guadalupe Posada Print Making

Jose Guadalupe Posada was a lithographer and print maker in Mexico’s pre-Revolution times. He is best known for the creation of La Calaca Garbencera, that later became La Catrina, the iconic skeleton lady used during the Day of the Dead celebrations and many folks’ art styles. Posada is considered by scholars the father of Mexican modern art.

Elgin iFest is an annual festival to celebrate the many cultures in Elgin and around the Fox Valley Region.

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