Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tag, you're IT

One of the first outdoor games children learn to master is TAG.  It can be played by two or two hundred children!  Okay, so 200 is streching it a there a World Record for the most people playing one game of tag?  Hmmm, something to research with the children!  Anywho....Tag seems to be one of those universal games, that no matter where you go, some variation of it is being played.   The very basic version is when the child(ren) run around being chased by "it" who then taps someone with their hand and yells "you're it", indicating that the title of "it" has been passed on.  Often the next step is declaring a spot or landmark as "T" (or time out), where a player can not be tagged by "it".  From there it's only a matter of time before this simplist of games becomes increasingly elaborate!  When this begins to happen, I create a folder or binder with lots of lined paper for the children to write out the rules of the game so we can all refer back to and discuss playing fair or add newly learned versions.   I am going to ask permission from one of the children to post the rules for his tag game called "Bulldozer", but until then try one of these with your group.

Freeze Tag
Best played with 5 or more people.  When "it" tags someone, they must "freeze" onto that spot and not move.  The last player to be frozen is 'it" next.  Variations: 1) a frozen player may be thawed when another player touches them.  2) a tagged player must freeze into a statue-like position.

Shadow Tag
Play this game on a sunny day.  "It" must tag players by stepping on their shadows.  The person who's shadow gets tagged is then "it" or is out of the game.

Ship to Shore
 Spots in the playground or field are designated as the ship and shore (ex - picnic table is the ship and tuft of grass is shore.)  "It" stands in between ship and shore and all the players stand on shore.  "It" then yells "ship" and everyone must run to the ship without being tagged.  If you get tagged you're out.  "It"stands back in the middle and calls out ship or shore until he/she has tagged all the players.  The last player left is now "it".   The person who is it may try and trick the other players by calling out an area they're already standing on.  Variations of this game are almost endless, so i'll only add three or four: 1) "it" can be a pirate, a shark, a giant squid, etc. 2) players who are tagged can become helpers of "it" and tag people as well. 3) if playing on asphault or concrete, use chalk to create your areas. 4) change up the, "cave to lake" or "mars to jupiter" or add another area "ship to shore to sky".

As an end note:   I always come across the one child who really wants to be a part of the game, UNTIL, it is his/her turn to be "it" or gets tagged early on in the game, then pouting or disappointment ensues.   My take on it is to remind them that this is how the game is played, it's okay for them to feel that particular rules are unfair and they can choose to count themselves out of that game. Making a whole group change the rules for one child that does not want to be "it" may cause quite a bit of tension and exclusion the next time the "one" child joins in.  Winning and losing are part of a child's way to learn about how rules are made up, how to face and cope with disappointment and, how to problem solve.  We can teach them resilience by helping them look at the positive, "you're "it", so now you get to tag someone and decide who's "it" next." or "today you got tagged first, but yesterday you didn't get tagged until the end." 

Do your children have a game of Tag they like to play?  How is played?  Let's see how many tag games we know!
Until You Read Again....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Games They Play

Do you remember the first game of tag you played?  Do you remember the moment you won your first game of marbles?  Do you remember that game of hopscotch when you made it both ways without loosing your balance? Do you remember how to play Jacks? What feeling did you get the moment you realized you could jump rope without effort? 
For hundreds of years, in countries all over the planet, children have been playing outdoor games.   The Kindergarten years are usually the time we see more structured games of tag, hide&seek, and duck/duck/goose emerging. You may also notice the uncoordinated attempts to get a skipping rope over their heads and the "crane" or "airplane" stance during hopscotch.  With practice, a hint of frustration and much encouragement they master these games and help shape the evolution of many traditional childhood favourites.
Over the next few weeks the blogs focus will be traditional and evolved games of childhood.  But first things first....Who's "IT"???

Deciding who's "it" can evoke a whole range of feelings depending on the age, stage and/or personalities of the children.   For the Kindergarten group I sometimes will be "it" first, as I'm seen as a neutral player, and who ends up being the last player is then "it" for the next game.  If a child chooses to pass and another child doesn't volunteer to be "it", a count out rhyme is then used to fairly decide....I remember to emphisize the word fair so no one feels as though they are being picked on. 

Count Out Rhymes

"Black shoe, black shoe"
Everyone stands in a circle and puts one foot in.  One child points to and taps everyones shoe while saying "black shoe, black shoe, who's it? not you."  Whomever the pointer finger lands on is out.  This continues until one person is left, he/she is "it".

"Bubble gum"
 Everyone stands in a circle and places both fists within the circle.  The child who initiated the game is the rhymer.  He/she uses their fist to (gently) tap the other fists while reciting: "bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?"  Whomever the fist lands at picks a number and the rhymer counts that number out on the fists around the circle.  Whomever the rhymer lands at takes out that hand.  This continues until only one person and his/her fist(s) are left in the circle; that person's "it".   *The Rhymer....counts themselves in by using one fist for the count out and their chin as the substitute fist. 
> you may notice that some children pick random numbers, while others can calculate quickly and use this to their advantage!

"Rock, Paper, Scissors"

THE classic!   Is great when a small number of players are involved.

Shake one closed fist to the count of 3 and then each person makes their hand into the shape of scissors (two fingers pointed outwards), paper (hand lays flat) or rock (hand stays in a fist). 
Scissors "cut" paper and win, Paper "cover" rock to win, Rock "breaks" scissor to win. 
If there's a tie, keep going until someone is "it"!

If you have anymore count out rhymes, please post for sharing! Thanks.
Until You Read Again........

Thursday, May 12, 2011

School-Age Needs

When setting up a (After)School-Age program or in reviewing the needs of an existing program, it is helpful to find criteria that shows us (the Educators), Directors and a Board of Directors what the standards of practice are. 
In talking with many Educators, it seems that After-School programs are being held in hallways, side rooms, locker rooms, or community rooms.  Although we can be resourceful with the space(s) we are given (hooray for us!), what message does this send to the children?  How do they feel about being corralled into small spaces, or being unable to continuously work on a project?  I'm not stating that this is the truth for all programs, however, everyone should be made aware of the needs of the children in an School-age program.  In the past, I have encouraged my school-agers to be proactive and write letters to Board of Directors/Directors talking about what they think is needed in the program and how they feel about the current program. The following are links with information regarding School-age programming:
Toronto Operating System

If you have other resources to share, please post a link
Until You Read Again.....

Friday, May 6, 2011

Marble Run

Not too long ago, I challenged my group to create a marble run out of recycled materials.  On the table I put a shoebox, 5 paper tubes, a small plastic drink bottle and the only way to hold it together; tape!  I asked them to examine the items and draw up designs we could collaborate. 
The first design had the tubes going from top to bottom, which didn't result in the amazing thing they had hoped for...but, the children persevered.  They decided the tubes would need to be cut and redirected to the sides.  We tested out a couple designs until we came up with the final result:

It has become a favourite for children and adults alike!  Perhaps this summer a large scale version will be in the works??? 
Until You Read Again....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dull to Dazzling

Winter's monotone pallette is slowly giving way to springs fresh colours.   Inspire children to recreate this pallette by growing grass seed and herbs or planting a pot of pansies in the play space. 

Also,  you may like to try adding various hues of green, yellow and brown to the art area that represent the colours seen in nature during spring. 
Challenge: Do you have a colour wheel handy?  Take it outdoors with the children and have them seek out the different hues, then, give the colour(s) a "growing grass green"
Remember to document and let me know what great things happen!
Until You Read Again....

(p.s. - couldn't find marble run pic. yesterday, will post it asap.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

First of Many

This blog is being started as a way for me to communicate ideas with other after-school groups.  In my city, After-school Educators meet monthly to discuss issues and ideas, but sometimes you just have to get an idea out there ASAP!!!
My hope is that other Educators and the Children in their programs will come here to share their experiences, ideas and questions/answers!
I would also like to post challenges.  For example, I challenged my group to create a marble run using only a handful of recycled materials.  They drew up plans and we tried out different configurations until it worked just how they wanted! (i'll post details & pic. tomorrow!)
I'm very excited about getting this ball rolling so,
Until You Read Again.....