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eJOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK (CYC-Net) – ISSN 1605-7406

ISSUE 37 FEBRUARY 2002 •  CONTENTS •  HOME PAGE

in a nutshell — henry maier

Activities developmentally in sync

Jack Phelan challenged me to discuss activities “which appear babyish but remain developmentally appropriate for older children or youth in care.” Thank you, Jack.

When we review the basic childhood and later life activities we discover that they all have three or four separate themes as basic ingredients.

First, there's hide and seek, capture the flag, prisoners' base, sardines; or indoors, for instance, checkers or solitaire. These activities carry as the main objective outlasting all other group members.

Second, there's tag; drop a hanky, playing fox and geese (where the foxes from the outer circle try to eliminate the geese from the inner circle by hitting each one with a basketball; geese can escape their fate by catching the ball), playing zoo or circus where, in order to survive, a gang of wild animals must be tamed or mastered (though neither animal nor keeper can lay hands on the other); or indoors, Parcheesi, or Chinese checkers, and so on. Here the objective is survival as one of the fittest.

Third, Sherlock Holmes know-how detective games, I spy, treasure or scavenger hunt; or indoors; twenty questions; crossword puzzles, and so on. The objective here is to emerge as the brain of the game.

Fourth, dress-up, costume party, wild west campfire; skits or puppet shows, or Halloween party. These are occasions where it is essential to become someone other than one’s self.

If you select any of these themes for an activity of your own invention, it must be adapted to the group's ongoing current level of interest.

One additional requirement is that YOU and the other participants have real enjoyment and more fun than you expected. If at all possible, you will participate as an active player.

As an additional gimmick that you may want to consider in order to overcome potential arguments such as; “Who was tagged out first?”, try this: each player with a half-inch-wide paper armband ,held together with Scotch tape, placed on the outer clothing above the right or left elbow. As soon as it is torn off or broken that individual is “out”. It can be agreed upon before beginning play under what condition a person can be reinstated, if at all, and be given a new armband.

I hope that you will try out some fitting activities of your imagination.

Cheerfully yours,