Posts Tagged ‘games’

Playing for Power

Playing Tag

“In play, the ordinary rules of reality are suspended, and that is what gives it such power. A little boy can imagine himself a superhero; a young girl can wrestle her father and pin his shoulders down. Children playing school get to hand out the assignments and the grades and the punishments. The playing field is leveled, or even tipped a bit in favor of the child, to make up for the frustrations of being smaller and weaker and less competent than the bigger folks.”
-Dr. Lawrence Cohen, Playful Parenting

Some of my children’s favorite games seem specifically designed to give them power. In Baby Bear, they always get away with sneaking out of the cave when they’re supposed to be hibernating. In Stop! Go!, they control my every movement. In You Can’t Get It, they always manage to “steal” a toy from me (while I stand there taunting that they’ll never ever get it away) and to run away and hide it where I’ll never find it.

I love that we can play out the impulse to be in control so they can break rules, be the boss, and take things away in a safe, silly scenario rather than through misbehavior.

Playing Tag photo courtesy of Bruce McKay

The BOOP Game

by Allen Goldblatt (click for original)

Siblings Without Rivalry has been on my “to-read” list for months, and I finally sat down with a copy this weekend. The next day (yes, it was that good), I closed the last page of the book, full of new ideas but (as always) some feelings of inadequacy – I see great potential for the principles, but can I implement them?

I didn’t make any specific plans or goals, but found my morning playing out an example of one of the book’s key ideas: “Give children in fantasy what they don’t have in reality.”

My 4 year old daughter threw her smoothie to the floor shortly after breakfast. I asked her to clean it up, and she darted away.

“Ugh!” I groaned, “don’t you just wish you didn’t even have to get a cleaning cloth and wipe it up? You could just yell BOOP and it’d be all clean?”

She giggled as she came back, “yeah, and BOOP and the dishes were in the sink.”

“Yes!” I agreed, “and BOOP, they’re in the dishwasher, clean!”

We shared a laugh, and she ran to the kitchen.

“BOOP!” she exclaimed as she opened the drawer with the cleaning cloths, “BOOP!” as she wet one under the sink, “BOOP” for each and every individual dot of smoothie (yes, by this point I wished I’d chosen a less annoying sound, haha) she rubbed clean.

Our little game lasted another half or or so, the word popping up here and there as she completed tasks she didn’t really want to do (occasionally reminding me SHE wasn’t doing it, the BOOP did it for her). Morning chores were hassle-free, full of laughter instead of nagging.

I love seeing tiny changes in my perspective yield huge ones in her attitude!

Photo courtesy of Allen Goldblatt

Puzzle People

It was my turn to plan family night, and I had a craving for arts & crafts, while I knew my husband would be in the mood for games and competition. Thankfully, I found a great combo in the Puzzle People Game!

Puzzle People

I got the idea for Puzzle People from Scrumdilly-do’s Boredom Busters: Crazy Creatures post. You can follow her thorough & colorful how-to there; basically, you want to:

1. Line up index cards (we did 3) and draw one character across the three: head, body, and legs/feet. It’s okay if it’s not humanoid, so long as it can fit across the cards.
2. We then wrote “head” “body” and “feet” on the back sides, but won’t do this next time – see below.
3. Mix up the cards.
4. Make up games to play with them! Use your imagination, use her ideas, or try mine, below.
5. Keep ’em for more fun later – we used a simple plastic zip-top bag.

Our Games

Game #1. Story Telling:
After separately drawing our characters, we introduced each with a little (funny) story. The body (middle card) in the photo above, for example, is a young chef who loves cooking, mixing, and his fun checkered pants.

Game #2. Crazy People:
We mixed up the heads in one stack, bodies in one stack, and feet in one stack, all upside-down. Because we could tell by handwriting what was what, we dealt them out rather than choosing cards (next time we’ll leave off the backs). We each had one minute to come up with a name for the newly-created person, along with a story about why they look the way they do.

Game #3. Build-a-Person: We shuffled all the cards together and dealt 5 to each player. The goal was to get a complete, matching, head-body-feet character.
We held our cards so only we could see them and, in “Go Fish” fashion, asked, “Do you have a _____?”
“Do you have a head? Body? Feet?” If the player has any, they have to pick one and give it to you. If they don’t have one, you draw one from the top of the card pile. Either way, you always end your turn by discarding one card to the bottom of the draw pile so that your hand ends up with 5 cards again.
The winner, of course, is whoever first puts together a complete, matching person!
This was a fun, silly, game since you don’t have a lot of control over what you get, and you have crazy looking people in your hand the whole game.

We’ve had our cards for 6 years now and still bring them to restaurants and waiting rooms for a little boredom-busting fun!

…and you?

Share links or ideas in the comments of other games and activities you get to make & then play.