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close this bookCreative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998, 226 pages)
close this folderGames
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View the documentSnakes and ladders
View the documentHealth snap
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Snakes and ladders

This is a board game where up to six players compete to reach the finish square first. Players throw a dice and move their stone forward square by square. When they land at the foot of the ladder, they go up to the top - reading the message (aloud) as they do so. When they land on the head of a snake, they go down to the snake tail, also reading the message in the squares. Positive messages go up the ladder; negative messages go down the snake. Each player must throw a six to start, and can take second turn if they throw a six during the game. They need to throw the one number to get them exactly to the finishing squares, in order to win. The messages can be discussed during the game, when the player reaches a ladder or snake. Alternatively they could be discussed at the end of the game.


Used as a fun way of learning about a topic. Can be used for topics on health, hygiene, gender, money, etc.

An example on a health topic


· cheap local materials (e.g., beer posters, political posters, any stiff card) or use a sheet of cartolina
· crayons one dice
· markers
· pens or pencils
· paints
· stones, shells or bottle tops as counter

1. Measure the sheet into numbered squares.

2 If you wish, color the squares where the head of the snake begins and the square where the tail ends. Use different color for the top and bottom of the ladder. You can use crayons, markers, pens or paints for this. If no colors are possible, use shading in pen or pencil.

3. Write out a list of:

· 8 positive messages; and
· 8 negative messages.
· The messages must be able to fit into the spaces left at the top and bottom of both snakes and ladders.

4 Copy the messages onto the prepared board.

5. Cover the board with plastic film for protection.

6. Seal with scotch tape.

It may seem expensive to do this, but is a worthwhile outlay because the game then becomes more durable for both indoor and outdoor use.


· Useful as an energizer
· A fun way for children/adults to learn.
· Portable and easy to transport.


· Different boards are needed for different sets of messages.


You may not think you are a good enough artist, but all that is necessary for a snake & ladders are simple lines.

Example 1

This game has been used in health programs in many developing countries and adapted to the needs of each program.

It is very popular with children who, in Mindoro, La Union, Philippines, come to borrow it again and again.

Example 2

This game had been used with gender messages using the following messages:

Positive messages (ladder)

· Your children share the chores - boys & girls
· Your wife cooks- you wash up. You cook - she washes up.
· You send all your children to school (boys & girls) so they learn and earn later.
· You and your wife discuss and make a joint decision about a new venture (livelihood project).

Negative messages (snakes)

· You go drinking with your friends - so the children go without medicine.
· You keep your daughter at home to help because you think that education for girls is not important.
· Your wife is ill - so you make your daughter do all her work.