Row, Row, Row, Your Boat…

There’s nothing quite like playing a game to get your blood pumping and your brain working! When children participate in simple games including Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Simon Says, and Red Light/Green Light they are using their higher level cognitive functions throughout the game. Not only are they practicing their focus and attention,  but they are remembering the rules, using self-control to take turns, and performing the actual task at hand. That’s a lot for four and five year olds! Most importantly, the learning is engaging and FUN!

When children become comfortable with the game, the game can be changed slightly to invoke higher level thinking. In Red Light/Green Light, the rules can be changed to red meaning “go” and green meaning “stop”. This requires the children to really think about what they are going to do before they do it. Caution: It also invokes lots of giggling as well.

Check out the New York Times for more information.

Field Day

This Friday is Field Day. On this exciting day, the entire school will be working together to solve whatever physical challenges Mr. Cooper has designed for us all. The grade levels will be intermingled as we play, exercise, and try ours hands at cooperative, community building outdoor activities.

The fun begins after lunch and continues until 3:00. All Pre-K students are invited to stay until carpool at 3:20. Please make sure your child is dressed for the weather, has on sunscreen, and has sneakers for running in the grass. If you would like to send in sunscreen, the spray type is the easiest for us to apply, but we’ll work with whatever you have. Please be sure to have your sunscreen labeled.


How to get an entire group of 4 and 5-year-olds to close their eyes for a game of Sardines.

In this game, “It” is supposed to hide. After a count-down, the rest of us are supposed to look for “It”. In theory, each person who finds “It” quietly hides with them until the last person has joined the crunched-up bunch.

Reality check. What really happens: when the first Pre-K child finds “It”, he or she screams and everyone runs to the same spot. OR No one was actually covering their eyes and everyone knows where “It” hid.

The rules may change as we play, but the fun is still the most important part of the game.

Introducing Nim

Have you ever been sitting with your child at the doctor’s office or a restaurant table and he or she is getting increasingly squirrelly?  Have you ever wished that you had something simple at your finger tips to entertain yourself and your child while you wait?  Well then, I have very good news for you!  This week we learned a wonderful game that has been played around the world for many generations.  It is called Nim.  Here is what you will need:

a group of small objects
your own hand

That’s it.  The small objects can be anything.  We used acorn caps, bottle caps, counting bears, buttons, baubles, rocks, and markers.  You could use sugar packets, toothpicks, pine cones, or what ever else you have on hand.  The number of objects can also be varied if necessary. If you decide to do any research regarding this game, you’ll find that there are as many ways to play it as there are cultures on the Earth.  We decided to start with a line version using 20 small objects.

Our rules are as follows:

  1. Place all of your small objects in a straight line.
  2. Take turns collecting pieces from the line.
  3. You may pick up 1, 2, or 3 objects.
  4. The other person takes a turn and may pick up 1,2, or 3.
  5. The person who picks up the last piece loses.

The point of this game is to eventually develop a strategy that will ensure that you will not end up with the last object.  However, much like playing tic-tac-toe with four and five-year olds, you might not see much forward thinking at this point.  Don’t worry about spending lots of time talking about how to make a strategy and how to win.  Instead, simply play, have fun and occasionally verbalize your own thinking before you make a play.  It will take lots of practice before the children will begin to plan future moves.  The good news is that this kind of practice is much more playful than “drillful” and can be played with practically any materials on hand.

If Dinos Could Carry Heavy Loads

Sometimes when we get the wiggles, it’s important to invent a new wiggly game.  In this case, we tried “How many pillows can you carry?”  The whole process was quite silly.  Most of the children attempted 4 or 5 pillows stacked on their backs right away.  Understandably, they fell right off.  Then they decided that one might be a better bet.  The variety in form was great.  Some of our dinosaurs had flat backs, some tried balancing pillows on their tail-bone.

The most exciting part for me was watching the children work as a team to find the best way to carry the pillows.  They quickly realized that they could not bend down on all fours AND put a pillow on their own back.  They needed assistance (or would it be assistants?)  Sometimes the helpers held the pillows as the “dino” walked across the floor and sometimes they just helped with the piling and the cheering.