There are 144 apricot pits in a peanut butter jar on my kitchen counter. I collected stamps, coins, and erasers. My kids collect apricot pits.
The spinner craze has hit Israel, and kids around the country are spinning away with these finger-fidget-toys. Other years, there were rainbow loom kits or special cards to collect. The fads come and go, but for as long as there have been apricots in Israel, Israeli kids have been collecting and playing with gogo’im (גוגואים), known in Jerusalem as a’ju’im (אג’ואים). Lots of people would look at me like I’m crazy if I told them my kids play with apricot pits, but–like hopscotch and marbles–gogo’im is a classic schoolyard game. (The Israeli equivalent of jacks is חמש אבנים, “five stones,” which we bought on our trip to Shlomit.) In an age of consumerism, when we feel compelled to buy the latest toy, the season’s newest model car, the most fashionable clothes, and the newest iphone, it’s refreshing to have an old classic to fall back on. Simple living. Like a school uniform, every kid’s apricot pits look pretty much the same. No one will know if your parents bought apricots for 25 shekels a kilo at the corner store or the five-shekel apricots on a blowout sale that were half-rotten and your mom used to make fruit soup. It really doesn’t matter because a pit is a pit. It’s a great equalizer.
Also, if my children are begging me to buy them toys that come inside delicious, fresh fruit that they will eat in order to get the pits, that is a thousand times better than asking me to buy them chocolate eggs with toys inside. When they ask me to eat apricots for them, that’s even better. Considering that apricot season in Israeli very short, only about two months, it’s an extra incentive to take advantage of the soft, sweet little apricots before they disappear from the supermarkets for another ten months.
So, how do you make the game?
- Find a shoebox that you don’t need.
- From the cover, cut a few circles of various sizes.
- Assign different point values to the different size holes, with the smaller holes being more points. (It’s kind of like skeeball.)
- Close the box, and go grab your gogo’im and some friends.
How is the game played?
- The game came be played while sitting or standing.
- The shoebox is placed on the floor (or ground outside), and players must stand a certain distance away.
- In turn, each player tosses a gogo at the box, trying to land it in a hole.
- The number of points accrued before the bell rings equals the number of gogo’im you win off the other players’ collections.
Israelis, please let me know in the comments if you play differently!