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Elimination Game Coconut Crack - a selection game

Elimination Game
Alternative Names
  • Coconut

Coconut Crack is a selection game.


At School 02

Players: 4
Age: 10

Players: stand in a circle with their hands folded together, fingers interlocked. The player doing the counting says the rhyme and touches each person's hands in turn, and the person whose hand is touched on the last word of the rhyme has to change it to the next shape in the series. The hand shapes are:

  • Hands folded with fingers interlocked
  • Hands separated into two fists.
  • Hand spread with palm down.
  • Hand behind the back (hand is out of the game)

People who have both hands behind their back are out of the game. The last person left in is the winner.

Rhyme: Coconut, coconut, crack your nut!

N.B. At this school, 'Coconut' is used as a game in itself, rather than a counting-out ritual to choose who goes 'It'.

At School 04

Players: 5 (but any number can play)
Age: 11

Played in a circle. Each player folds his hands together and holds them out in front. One player counts around each person, hitting their folded hands with his own in rhythm with the rhyme:

Coconut, coconut, crack your nut!

Each time the rhyme ends and the counter says the word 'nut', the person whose hand was hit does the next step in the game. The steps are:

  • Hold out both hands folded together
  • Separate hands into two fists with thumbs on top (splitting the coconut)
  • Spread fingers of one hand with palm facing downwards. (the milk spilling out)
  • Spread fingers of the other hand with palm facing downwards.
  • Put one hand behind the back. (This hand is 'out'.)
  • Put the other hand behind the back. (This player is 'out'.)

The aim is to see who is the last player left 'in'. He is the winner.

N.B. The boys at this school use this rhyme and actions as a straight hand game. At some other schools the game is used as a counting-out ritual to find who goes 'It'.

At School 19

Players: 3+
Age: 10

This was a counting game to determine who should be 'it'. Various informants knew of this counting rhyme and varied in their understanding of the meaning of the shapes of the hands. Each informant appeared to speak with authority as to what the hand shapes meant but differed in their understanding. We heard the informants at separate times and were careful not to correct them although on one occasion enquired as to whether the flat hand might have been milk, to which we were told 'no'.

The initial version we encounted had the clasped two hand shape representing the coconut as a whole. They would say the rhyme with their hands clasped together and the counter would touch the other coconuts with her coconut, the coconut the ryhme ended on would then split into two coconut halves and the rhyme would start again, if with each coconut half counting as one each. The rhyme would continue from the next hand shape (the first time around this would logically be another full coconut shape) and if the rhyme ended on a coconut half the hand would then go flat (we obtained an audio recording if this version).

Although this version didn't call this the milk shape, another version did. If the rhyme ended on a flat shaped hand, then the hand was put behind the player back and was not longer counted. In the more complete version there was a previous stage to the milk called 'skin' where a cupped hand was tilted on its side. An informant explained that this was the skin inside the coconut (also recorded). The counter would continue the rhyme to count around any remaining hands, each shape counted as one and when the milk shape was encounted the hand was taken away, the milk seemingly drunk (as explained) and no longer counted, until the last remaining hand would belong to the player who became 'it' at which point the others would run away and the player who had become 'it' would chase them. This game was popular at a Gippsland school in a similar verison.

At School 16 Public School

It appears in video and on photo but there is no textual description of it. Video located at Museum Victoria. Photos at National Library of Australia Video located at Museum Victoria. Photos at National Library of Australia

AtSchool 15

It was also played at School 15 but there is no textual description

Played at

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