Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

VERB Play Without Borders Kit

Play Without Borders Teacher Guide

Teacher Guide (PDF – 190K)

Page 1

Knowing that you’ve taken the time to order this physical activity package — VERB™ Play Without Borders — tells me that you have your students’ best interests at heart. Because no matter how good an education we give them, or how many opportunities we try to expose them to, we also have to do our best to ensure that they pursue a lifestyle that will give them the best of health. An essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle is being physically active.

To help support your efforts in getting students ages 9 to 13 physically active, we have put together these materials that will expose kids to a world of play possibilities. This program was developed in support of the VERB campaign created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage regular physical activity among young children.*

In addition to this program, there are several resources you can find online:

Teacher Section — Monthly suggestions on how to motivate students, advice from other teachers, and an opportunity to share your ideas.

Kid Section — A new VERB theme for every month, offering ideas on how to get active.

Parent Section — Monthly ideas to incorporate activity during after-school hours and weekends, suggestions from other parents and an address to share their ideas.

The ideas in this Teacher’s Guide alone will help you introduce your students to games as diverse as hopscotch from around the world, “Native American Kickball” from Canada, “Los Hoyos” from Mexico and more. The sections inside can be photocopied and given to kids so they can try out the games or create their own versions — anytime and anywhere they want.

To gain support and encouragement from families on this important initiative, we have also provided you with a reproducible parent letter Parent Letter on the back of this guide (a Spanish version of the letter is available at*).

The 150 student “Playports” serve as their personal passports of play — allowing them to discover games from their own heritage and around the world. Exposure to the many interpretations and styles of activities will hopefully inspire them to create their own play — without borders. We’ve provided you with a stamp to recognize when students try new games and create their own on their journey of play possibilities. There’s also a wall poster designed to inspire students to explore play from around the world.

Please know we appreciate your enthusiasm and commitment. Together, we can help to create a healthier, happier generation of young people.

Faye Wong
Director, VERB Campaign

In support of VERB™ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VERB is a trademark of the DHHS, CDC. © 2004 CDC. All rights reserved. Weekly Reader is a registered trademark of Weekly Reader Corporation.

Page 2

Check out the rules for some popular games around the world. Get creative and make them yours by adding your own twist. Then, play them at home, at recess, at the get the idea — anytime, anywhere.


Hopscotch is a game that has a long history and is played in almost every country around the world. You can play it almost anywhere. Try it out, then create your own hopscotch board and game. No one’s stopping you!

Great Britain — Hop-Round

Players need to decide on a score that will win the game.

Each player has five pebbles. You throw the pebbles into the circle one at a time or all together. Add up the numbers for each of the spaces where the pebbles have fallen. (If a pebble falls on a line, it doesn’t count.) This is the score you will get if you jump in and out of the pattern successfully.

Hop around the pattern on one foot, picking up the pebbles as you come across them in each space. You are not allowed to touch the lines or put your other foot down. If you do this successfully, you can claim any space as your own. No other player is allowed to hop in that space.

The first player to reach the score agreed upon at the start is the winner.

Italy — Campana (“bell”)

Throw a puck into space 1, and hop over it into space 2.

Hop into spaces 12 and 3, and 4 and 11, with one foot in each space. Then, hop back to space 14 following the numbers, and back to space 2 and out of the pattern.

Repeat the steps above by throwing the puck into each of the boxes. The first player to complete the entire pattern wins. (A turn is lost if you touch a line while hopping, if your puck lands in the wrong box or touches a line, or if your other foot touches the ground while hopping.)

El Salvador — Peregrina (“female pilgrim”)

Toss the puck into the first box, hop over it into the second box on one foot. (Your turn ends if you put your hands on the ground or touch any of the lines.)

While standing on one foot in the second box, bend to pick up the puck in the first box, then hop over that box and out of the pattern.

Keep throwing the puck into the next box, picking it up and hopping back out of the pattern. The “ala” is a “wing”— you can land with one foot in each, but never put your foot down in one if that’s where you threw the puck.

When you throw the puck into “el mundo” (“the world”), jump into it with both feet, then jump and turn facing the start and hop out of the pattern.

Once you’ve completed the entire pattern, mark an “X” in the first box. No other player can land in that box, and no player can put an “X” in a box that has already been marked. The player with the most “X” marks wins.

France — Escargot (“snail”)

This game is also called “La Marelle Ronde” or “round hopscotch.” Choose which foot you will use to hop on, and use only that foot to hop through the snail. Do not touch the lines while hopping and hop only one time in each space. (In case you didn’t notice, you don’t need a stone or puck to play this game.)

Once in the center, you can put both feet down and rest before hopping back out of the snail. Repeat the process again.

After hopping in and out of the snail two times, choose a space as your “maison” (“house”), and write your initials in it. In this space, you can put down both feet and rest. No other player can land in your “house.”

When all of the boxes have initials in them, or when no one can hop into the center space, the game is over. The player with “houses” in the most squares wins.

Training Tips for…

Snowboarding – Practice some yoga and stretching moves to enhance balancing skills. Pretend that you’re snowboarding by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, try doing different stretches and squats without lifting your feet, just like you would while snowboarding!

Jianzi – Need a new twist to badminton and soccer? Try the Chinese game of jianzi (say: jon zoo) where groups of five try to keep the birdie, or shuttlecock, in the air for as long as possible using the heels or soles of their feet (no hands or rackets!).

Tennis – Who needs a racket? When tennis first started, players just used the palms of their hands. Come to think of it…you don’t need a net either. Play a game similar to Mexico’s jai alai (say hi lie) (which uses a curved wicker basket) and frontón (which uses tennis rackets) where a ball is hit off a wall until someone misses. Any variation you try is sure to get the same result — fast moving fun!

Page 3

Take a ride around the world without even getting on a plane! There’s no travel or passport needed to try out play from different countries. And this kind of play can happen anytime, anywhere and with anything you have to make it fun and keep it moving. This is play that works best YOUR way!

Canada – “Native American Kickball”

Originally played by the Hopi Indians, this game is all about teamwork. First you create an obstacle course using anything you have hanging around (jump ropes, cones, garbage cans…whatever you have). Make as many twists and turns as you want. Then, two teams run through the course, kicking their ball forward to the end or finish line. Each team member takes a turn kicking the ball through the course, but no one player can kick the ball twice in a row. The team that finishes in the fastest amount of time wins! Add your own twists and turns to this game, and start kicking…or maybe hopping…or wheel barrowing…or skipping…you get the idea! (Source: Corbett, Doris; John Cheffers; and Eileen Crowley Sullivan; ed. Unique Games and Sports Around the World: A Reference Guide. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001.)

United States – “Triathlon”

Inspired by tests taken by lifeguards, the triathlon started as a competition between American soldiers in Hawaii to see who was the best athlete. Talk about a test of endurance! In the triathlon, people swim, cycle and run to cross the finish line. The idea of mixing and matching sports caught on — now there’s the snow triathlon (cross country skiing, mountain biking and running), snow duathlon (running and cross country skiing) and aquathlon (swimming and running). So, what’s your –thlon? Pick two, three or four of your favorite sports or games and make your own!

(Source: Fortin, Francois. Sports: The Complete Visual Reference. Canada: Firefly Books, 2000.)

Mexico – “Los Hoyos”(“the holes”)

All this game needs is a tennis ball and some chalk. For each player, you create a hole (using chalk, a paper plate, or even digging a hole in dirt if you’re playing outside) about 10 feet away from where the players will stand. The first player rolls the ball into another player’s hole. If they miss the hole, the next player rolls the ball. If the ball lands in the hole, whoever the hole belongs to has to run to get the ball without being tagged by the other players. If the player makes it back to their standing place without being tagged, they get a point. Try out “Los Hoyos” or create your own game using just a tennis ball and chalk. See what you can come up with!

(Source: Erlbach, Arlene. Sidewalk Games Around the World. Brookfield: The Millbrook Press, 1997.)

Nigeria – “Big Snake”

This is not your ordinary tag! As the “snake” tags other players, they join hands and the snake becomes longer. Only the head and tail of the snake can tag people. If players in the snake break hands, runners can tag the snake and send it home (an area you choose before starting the game). If the snake is long enough, it can encircle players to try and tag them. In China, in a similar game called “Chase the Dragon’s Tail,” the players start out as a long dragon and the “head” tries to tag the “tail” as the players in between do their best to prevent it. What’s your version of tag? Name it. Play it. Pass it on.

(Source: Corbett, Doris; John Cheffers; and Eileen Crowley Sullivan, ed. Unique Games and Sports Around the World: A Reference Guide. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001.)

Page 4

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We’re letting you know that your kids are about to take a journey. But no permission slip is necessary. It’s a journey of play. As a parent or guardian, you want the very best for your child — the best education, the best opportunities, the best future. Maybe they’ll grow up to be a scientist or an athlete or a writer or a teacher. But, one thing is very critical no matter what they become — they should have the best of health.

I am sure you are well aware of the growing health concern of childhood obesity. To encourage regular physical activity among children and foster long-lasting positive change, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the VERB™ campaign. A recent survey has found that our campaign is making strides doing exactly what we hoped it would do — motivate America’s youth, particularly kids aged 9 to 13 years, to be physically active. We are proud of the fact that we have increased levels of activity among young people, but there is still much more to be done in continuing to stimulate, increase, and then maintain this trend. No one is more important in supporting this initiative than you are.

By encouraging regular physical activity, you can help your child develop healthy lifestyle habits that will last into adulthood. We are here to help you with this important, often challenging undertaking. We have provided your child’s teacher with materials — VERB Play Without Borders — encouraging your child to try different kinds of play from around the world. Your child has been given a “playport,” or passport of play, to discover the many interpretations and styles of games and activities. The idea is to inspire them to create their own play — without borders.

Remember what it’s like to be a kid again…

run the bases
dance to the music
shoot for the hoop
jump as high as the sky
skate in circles
kick a goal
race down the driveway
inspire them and be like them…
play without borders.

We have also created a Web site just for you — — where you can find ideas for your entire family to get active and find local places to pursue various physical activities. Kids’ ultimate activity goals should be at least 60 minutes of play each day. Our partnership with Weekly Reader provides you with another Web site —*. You will find fun, simple family ideas, have an opportunity to share your advice with other parents, and find out what works best for them in getting their kids active.

Together, we can help foster good health, increased self-esteem, higher academic achievement and greater emotional stability for your child.


Faye Wong
Director, VERB Campaign

In support of VERB™ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VERB is a trademark of the DHHS, CDC. © 2004 CDC. All rights reserved. Weekly Reader is a registered trademark of Weekly Reader Corporation.

Play Without Borders Poster

Play Without Borders Poster (PDF – 211K)





In support of VERB™ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VERB is a trademark of the DHHS, CDC. © 2004 CDC. All rights reserved. Weekly Reader is a registered trademark of Weekly Reader Corporation.

PLAYPORT (student piece)

PLAYPORT (student piece) (PDF – 185K)


VERB Play Without Borders

Page 2:

Place your picture here

Favorite Game:
Favorite Foreign Game:
Song That Makes You Move:
Best Sports Moment You Ever Had:
Goal for Greatness:

Wipe your sweat here for proof of play.

Page 3:

(top right corner) Polo too fast for you? People in India play elephant polo to slow things down a notch.

The world is shaped like a ball. To enjoy it, we should throw it. Jump on it. Catch or kick it.

This book is full of adventures and challenges from around the world for you to do.

VERB™ wants you to go. Even if it means bringing Budapest to your backyard. So take our path or choose your own. This PLAYPORT offers no ending or beginning, or borders along the way.

Enjoy the ride. See you on the other side.


*But you can play with snowboarders and wake boarders and surfboarders and long boarders and broomstick boarders and kite boarders and skateboarders.

Stamp here!

Pages 4-5

Football How do you play it?

The rules and styles of play are vastly different. So are the balls. So are the fields.

But one thing is certain. A ball is kicked, scrummed, headed, floated or carried all the way down a field for the score, be it Greenland or Green Bay.

So here’s your challenge… make two goals, take any ball and get to the other side for the score.

Punt returners practice catching eggs in the air to work on soft hands.

Did you know that the Brazilian National Football team trains by playing with a golf ball?

Stamp here!

(Follow or Mix & Match)
(Either way — just move the ball!)

In Soccer (which is known as fútbol in most countries), only goaltenders get to use their hands. (Try playing goalie without hands.)

Rugby players can carry the ball, but have to pass it to the side or behind them. (Kicking forward is allowed!)

In Australian football, you have to kick the ball or serve it, like in volleyball.

Gaelic football players can carry the ball for only 4 steps before it has to be bounced or “solo-ed” (dropped onto your foot and kicked back to your hand — try practicing that move!).

See to look at fútbol games from around the world.

Page 6 Stamp here!

Jumping Celtic warriors had to see who could jump the highest in order to protect the king.

Go to for jumping games from around the world. Do jumping jacks while you wait to load.

Page 7

Floating Today’s warriors do not jump. They float. But not to protect the king. To be the king.

So grab a ball and float to the hoop. Grab a rope and float to your groove. Any way you like to move just add some float and you’ll never lose.

Who is your king of the sky? What is your favorite way to float?

Jump challenge: on your way home from school pick a target you cannot reach at the park or on the playground and make sure you touch it by the end of the year.

Stamp here!

Page 8-9

Kenyans train by running barefoot. And cross the line ahead of the rest of the world.

Racing A race can happen: Anytime. Anywhere.

On certain street corners in Amsterdam, Dutch kids meet every Friday night at 7pm to race each other around the block on their bikes.

In 1928, a Cherokee Indian won a race from Los Angeles to New York City. But that took 84 days and we know gym class is less than an hour, so …

Celebrate the spirit of racing by creating a race course at your park or school. Just remember winning the race isn’t what makes you better, it’s the journey along the way. Remember to wear the appropriate safety gear!

Stamp here!

Page 10

Stamp here!

Team handball is an Olympic game that goes back to Ancient Greece but was not truly a sport until the Germans started playing it in the late 1800s. And while history may argue over who played it first, nobody can argue its influence over games played around the world today.

After all, how many games can you think if that require the skills of soccer and basketball, the agility of football, and the attitude of hockey?

So play by the rules or do what the Germans did and make up your own.

Check 4 and GO.

  • Hockey puck
  • Ball
  • Trash can
  • Wall
  • Anything
  • Hockey stick
  • Skates
  • Skateboard

Page 11

The world is your playground

So tackle it. Throw it. Jump for it.

Just remember, all any game needs is a ball and some chalk to make the lines. Or neither really, cause in your world, you make the rules.

What is your game?

Stamp here!

Page 12/back cover

In support of VERB™ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VERB is a trademark of the DHHS, CDC. © 2004 CDC. All rights reserved. Weekly Reader is a registered trademark of Weekly Reader Corporation.

Contact Us:
  • Division of Adolescent and School Health
    4770 Buford Hwy NE
    MS K-29
    Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
    24 Hours/Every Day
  • Contact CDC-INFO
- The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #