XIII. MIMICKING, ROLE-PLAY AND PRETEND PLAY GAMES
Pretend Play Games include all those games where children, drawing on their own creativity and spontaneity, act out actions, situations, work or tasks usually carried out by adults or entrusted to their elders. Role-playing and mimicking rather refer to skits that children perform using gestures and moves, occasionally following the instructions in a song, but always using a script or story that acts as a central theme and which is more or less defined.
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Pretend play games
Mummies and Daddies. Uzandraka
It is a very common game played by girls, although boys sometimes take part. The game involves imitating what mothers do, as the children look after their dolls and pretend to do the housework that they see being done at home. The children sometime dress up in old clothes to look older.
Playing “Shops” has always been and continues to be a very common source of entertainment among girls. As they did not have toy shops, the girls would use plants, shoe polish lid covers, paper and boards to set up the shop and the products sold there. They would play outdoors and while some girls were the shopkeepers, others would come along to shop.
Many girls pretend play at cooking, when they use “kitchen items” to prepare meals and imitate the tasks that housewives do around the house. The activity is often complementary to pretend play shopping and children play them together.
Doctors and nurses. Medikutara
This game consists of pretend playing at the medical profession, with the children playing the role of doctor and patient as if they were going to a doctor’s appointment when they are ill. It is very widespread geographically and children have always played this game.
Mimicking and staging games
It is a very widespread game. It is played as follows: a leader, sitting down, is in charge of a group of children, sitting in a circle, and the leader gives each child a trade or, as is the case in Amézaga de Zuya (A), a musical instrument. Each of the children in the circle has to use gestures to act out the trade allocated, while the leader scratches their chin and sings. There are different ways that the song ends in different locations.
At any point in the song, the leader stops scratching their chin with their finger, while they touch their nose with their forefinger, to perform the gestures of one of the trades and the child who has been given that trade has to copy what the leader does. If the child is distracted or does not do that by mistake, s/he will pay a penalty. The child is eliminated at the third penalty. The game ends with the children paying the penalties, such as knocking on someone’s door, kissing someone, bringing a stone, etc.
José Iñigo Irigoyen described a different version of this game in Álava. There is a leader of the game who gives each player a trade: tailor, cobbler…. They all hold on to the edge of a large piece of cloth with one hand and pull it so that the material taught. Their other hand is free and, when called, they use it to act out the allocated trade. The leader sings and acts out the trades allocated.
Fights between neighbourhoods were frequently organised, playing at what was called “To War”. The children would use bows, arrows, catapults, stones and even their fists, which meant that the fight would often end in “fisticuffs”. Children now use plastic guns as weapons and make the sound of guns firing with their voice.
Ballads & rhymes
It is often not easy to say where one game ends and another begins. That occurs with ballads and rhymes which children have recited or dramatized, but also used when skipping, playing tag and even older people have sung them as lullabies.
Children have frequently acted out the ballads and one of the most popular was Don Juan Tenorio.
- José IÑIGO IRIGOYEN. Folclore Alavés. Vitoria, 1949, p. 103.