Yut-Nori, A Korean Board Game

Today I was hanging out with one of my favorite seven year olds, and she's possibly the most crafty seven year old I've ever had the pleasure of hanging out with on a regular basis.  I feel like I really have to have my creative hat on when we get together because she comes over ready to make stuff...and when I say make stuff, I mean make stuff.  Her visits end with my table looking like the demo section of Hobby Lobby or Michael's in the states, much to my husband's dismay, but I love what we come up with as a team.  The other day I asked her if she has any ideas of what she might want to be when she grows up, and she replied, "an art teacher."  "That makes complete sense," I told her, "because you love art, and if you love what you do, you'll be very good at it too."  She came back with a pensive, "Yeah...I know..."

Whenever she comes over, we have a basic routine we stick to, and an integral part of what we do involves a great book.  This week's selection was Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan.  It's a fantastic read that highlights the multicultural family of a young girl, seven to be precise, and their cooking traditions around the new year.  The most appealing part for me is the food that's mentioned...particularly mandoo and kimchi.  Growing up my best friend was Korean (hey Sae Bom!), and I spent many a nights learning how to knit poorly, watching Korean soap operas, and snacking on Korean delights with my bff and her mom, Han.  I love that this book transports me back to the time when I was eleven and my biggest worry in the world was whether or not I'd ever be good enough to knit myself a blanket.

Knowing my buddy would be looking for an activity or craft to go with the book, I did some research on Pinterest, and found a really interesting Korean board game called Yut-Nori.  The original idea came from The Crafty Crow. Here's the link: http://www.thecraftycrow.net/2010/03/crafts-around-the-world-korea.html

The site says that the game Yut-Nori (pronounced yoonnori) is especially popular around the new year, but can be played anytime.  To play you need just a few things: a game board (we modeled ours after the example on the site listed above), 4 popsicle or craft sticks (I didn't have any lying around, so we used wooden clothespins), and two markers or game pieces to keep places as the players advance around the board, and markers or crayons for decorating.

Here are all of our materials...

Much to her delight we used candy as game pieces.  We ate a couple, then got down to business.

The game board itself consists of a series of dots and lines that form the border of the board and connect to a larger center circle.  The bottom left hand corner is where both players start.  The goal is to be the first player to get completely around the game board and back to the initial start position, but it's easier said than done!  If you land on a corner, you can take a shortcut, and if you land in the middle circle, you can take another shortcut.

There are no dice to roll; instead each player takes turns tossing up the four popsicle sticks (note: sometimes it's alright to improvise, but sometimes it's best just to find the recommended materials beforehand...this is a game that needs popsicle sticks.  The clothespins were a bit problematic because they would land on their sides sometimes and then we were forced to turn them over, and both of us eventually let our competitive streaks get the better of us and would turn them in a way to get more points, which led to accusations of cheating and lamenting and, well, you get the point.)

The popsicle sticks are decorated using two patterns: stripes on one side and dots on the other.

The way they land after being tossed determines the number of spaces, if any, the player moves.  Use these guidelines for playing:
If the sticks fall:
one dotted side up, advance one space
two dotted sides up, advance two spaces
three dotted sides up, advance three spaces
four dotted sides up, advance four spaces
four striped sides face up, advance five spaces
*If you get all dotted or stripes face up, you get to take another turn

I won the game, despite constant cheating accusations (most of which I deny). The point isn't that I won, though.  The point is that we both learned something: I need to keep a stash of popsicle sticks around for the future.

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