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


Games are an active and social way of learning. Many common place games, e.g., playing cards and board games, can be adapted to introduce specific topics and needs for the community. These can provoke discussion about certain issues like health, gender and environment.



To encourage people to read the messages as they play and discuss their content. They do this in an enjoyable way, and repetition of the game reinforces the messages.

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.

Health snap

Another popular game is cards. Children often play cards to gamble for sweet papers, rubber bands or marbles. This suggested the idea that cards could be used to promote health messages. An alternative could be gender messages or money management.

Materials and preparation

You can buy an ordinary pack of playing cards and cut a piece of their card to the shape of the playing cards. On each piece, draw a basic picture and health message - 13 different messages repeated four times each as in a deck of playing cards. Paste the pictures onto the playing cards.

Note: These can also be used as flashcards to discuss the message on each card.

How to play?

I. Divide the cards equally among players.

2 Let the players hold the cards in their hands with the backs up and the pictures hidden.

3. Let each player take her or his top card and place it face up on the table. The other players follow in turn with a card.

4. Ask other players to watch carefully and when two of the same card appear together at the top of the pile on the table - the first player to shout 'SNAP!' puts her or his hand on the pile gains all these cards.

5. Let the players read the message aloud for everyone to hear.

6. Continue the game until one player wins all the cards.


Someone who is deaf would be unable to shout. But they could put both hands on the cards to claim them.


Health messages

Spitting spreads tuberculosis. Wash your hands after using the toilet. Too much alcohol is bad for your health. Cigarette smoking is bad for your body. Brush your teeth after eating. Bury or recycle your rubbish. Breastfeeding is the best. Vaccination protects your child. Use the toilet or bury the stools. Cover food to protect from flies. Cover your water container. Collect the water where the river runs fast. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze. Stagnant water encourages mosquitoes.



· portable
· cards are readily available
· liked by children and adults
· can be adapted to many topics


· Playing cards may seem expensive. Stiff card could be used but it would not be as durable for frequent use.

· Limitations of the artist - it is important that each set of 4 should look the same.


· This activity has been used constantly in Mindoro - Bangar, La Union Philippines by the children in a Child to Child pilot study (child-centered health promotion) and their parents, and by adolescents. The messages on the cards are frequently repeated, even when the cards are no longer there.

· The cards have also been adapted to cover topics which were of priority to communities e.g., malnutrition and scabies.


This is a board game with colored squares and cards in colors that match the squares (see diagram).



The game is meant to encourage money management and it is better if players handle their own money. Let the players read the instructions and pay and count for themselves, however slowly they may do it.


· one board with colored squares

· a set each of expenses, earnings and savings card colored red, blue and green respectively

· money in denominations of P500, P100, P50, P20, P10 and P5 (this example comes from the Philippines where the currency is peso). This can be play money or slips of paper with denominations written on them

· dice and shakers

· counters - these must be of different colors, shapes etc., and could be stone, shells, etc.

· slips of paper

· pen and pencils

Suggested approach

1. Let each player throw a six to start. After each six thrown, make another throw. Each player earns P500 when they start (e.g., 3 x PI 00,2 x P50,4 x P20,1 x P90 and 2 x P5).

2. One person is in charge of the bank and has a slip of paper with each name on it. S/he is not a player.

3. The aim of the game is to save as much as possible. The winner is the player with the most savings.

4. The game can be timed. Thirty minutes is a good time, with the banker giving warnings before it ends.

5. When the player lands on a colored square, s/he picks up a card of that color and follows instructions.

Red cards - the players pay to the banker or other players as per instructions.

Blue cards - the bank or other players pay the player as per instructions.

Green cards - the player must make a deposit in her or his savings in the bank. A Bonus Card means the bank makes the deposit. If all the player's money is already deposited -ignore instructions.

Although the players are encouraged to save, they should also keep cash in the hand for immediate expenses. They may deposit and withdraw money when they wish. However, it should be pointed out that in real life, banks are not open all the time, and the player should try to judge how much they need for their payments.


· It is advisable to keep the bank's money out of reach of the players. It is very tempting to CHEAT!

· Players should be encouraged to save small amounts regularly but to keep cash in the hand for immediate expenses. An added incentive would be to stop half way through the game and give "interest" on savings, e.g., 5%, and again at the end.

The board is designed so there is no end -although there is a beginning. Each player, on reaching a junction, must decide which way is the best to go (obviously, they do not want to land on an expense square). Like life, we do not always make the right decisions. Players may not return along the same lines.

If players spend all their money, they become BANKRUPT - but (as in real life) continue playing. If they incur more expenses, their credit is recorded on their bank slip. If they do earn money, they have to pay their debts first. At the end of the game, players are given their savings to count. The banker checks this and the person with most savings is declared the winner!

Numbers required (cards)


Take your salary, P500x5 cards

You earn a dividend from the coop, P200x2

A small catch, P50x3

A small catch, P100x2

Each player owes you P5, collect x 3

You make a small profit from your livelihood project, P100x2

It's your birthday - collect P10 from each player x3

Your vegetables are growing well, you earn P100x2

A good catch, P500x3


Gasoline, 3 liters x 45 x 3

You buy a pig for your son's wedding, P600x1

Food, P50x5

You give a donation for the school, P20x2

Your child is ill - medicines P50x2

You give a donation for the church, P20x2

You get drunk with your friends. It costs P100.

You pay your coop dues, P100x2

Lose a turn You need condiments, P20xl

You pay your debts, P100x1 P200x1 P300x1

You need cooking oil, P5x3


You buy vegetables, P10x2

Electricity bill, P100x2

You buy fruit, P10x2

Damage to your boat, repairs P100x3 P300x2

You buy a pig for your son's wedding - P600x1



Bonus card - P50 for savings x3

You save, P50 x 4

You save, P10 x 10

Bonus card - P100 for savings x 2

You save, P20 x 6

Bonus card, P20x3

For savings, 5% interest on all your savings x 2


How the game can be adapted for upland communities



A good rice harvest - P500x2

A visit to the market for food - P250x3

A moderate rice harvest - P200x4

You have your rice milled - P?

A good vegetable harvest - P200x4

(Different weights, different costs) x 4

You sell two young carabaos - P200x2

A poor yield this year. You owe P500x2

Your carabao dies. You must buy a new one, P2500x1


This game has been played by children and adults in Bangar, La Union, Philippines. It is used by a fisherfolks' cooperative as an icebreaker in their basic accounting seminars.

It has also been demonstrated, adapted and tested by Women's Credit Coops in Cebu, Philippines. The original idea was developed to help street children in Baguio City, Philippines to develop budgeting skills.