It is fall, and in Wisconsin we have calabazas, or pumpkins, everywhere! 1,2,3 Calabaza is a traditional game children play in Mexico. It is a good game for even the youngest children learning Spanish. I do not know if it is played in other Latin American countries or not, but in Spain it is called 1,2,3 Escondite inglés. If you know the game Red Light Green Light, this is basically played the same way.
Children play 1,2,3 Calabaza in a group and in a fairly large space. They choose someone to be la calabaza using a rima de sorteo, a counting-out rhyme.
Check here for Spanish counting rhymes. This is the rhyme I use with my littlest students: El cielo es azul. ¿Cuántos años tienes tú? The child you are pointing to answers and you count that many. The child you land on is la calabaza.
This is how you play 1,2,3 Calabaza:
• The calabaza stands facing away from the other kids, with her face to a wall or tree. The wall or tree is the base.
• The other children line up along the far end of the playing space on a starting line.
• La calabaza says 1,2,3 calabaza and drums the rhythm of the words on the wall or tree as she says them. Then she turns around as fast as she can.
• As she says the words, the other children move forward as quickly as they can, but they have to freeze when la calabaza turns around.
• If la calabaza catches anyone moving, that person has to return to the starting line.
• The game continues this way with la calabaza turning back to the wall and the other children trying to move forward and reach the base. When someone reaches the base, that person becomes la calabaza.
This is a video from El club de Rony that teaches how to play 1,2,3 Calabaza. In the video, they play the game first and at the end Rony reviews how to play with the kids.
This is helpful vocabulary for children playing the game:
la base – the base
Te moviste. – You moved
Te vi. – I saw you.
Llegué – I made it. ( I arrived, I touched the base).
A la línea (de salida).- Back to the starting line.