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

ISSUE 26 MARCH 2001   CONTENTS   HOME PAGE

in a nutshell henry maier

Things to do

From time to time care workers are at loss over what to do with the kids. Unfortunately, some care workers tend to fall back on cleaning activities as if sweeping or mopping would provide wholesome time spent.

What about fun as the center of care work? But what? I suggest workers try to fall back on things they liked to do when they were the same age. The youngsters most likely would be attentive to stories or books the worker recalls from his or her earlier days. Any story told or read can provide stimulus for acting it out or making up fantasy sequences.

In fact, an evening for stunts, charades, or shadow plays can provide rich mutual entertainment. The youngsters might imitate a TV production as a program of their own, for instance, a Jeopardy program or a take-off on Batman. Paper bag dramatics can also provide much fun. Three to six youngsters form a dramatic team. They get a paper bag with odd items (such as a band-aid, an onion, a peanut, leftover spaghetti, or other strange things). The kids will have to produce a pay in which they must make use of every item it, the bag. When the youngsters have caught on and gained much pleasure from production, they might try to put on a soap opera and then, on subsequent evenings, produce a sequel to it, so one show can easily become the prototype for subsequent ones. Most important, the youngsters and staff join in together to have fun. Staff members of the agency might, from to time to time, be invited as participants. Dramatic events give the youngsters a chance to come through successfully. Give leeway to their imaginations.

Another form of fun might be to have the kids produce their own games, by taking a stretch of white shelf paper and designing a table dice game like "Chutes and Ladders". The youngsters could make up what happens at critical points of the game and the consequences to be encountered.

Another joint activity would be having a few youngsters set up a treasure hunt with one clue leading to the next one, and of course at the end, as a treasure, something to eat! A scavenger hunt would be another alternative or a banquet evening where everybody would be involved in making some fancy goodies for them to indulge in.

In my own experience the activities do not have to be sophisticated or parlor appropriate. The adaptation of an early childhood activity such as hide-and-seek, tag, statues, prisoner base, or finding hidden objects can produce lots of involvement.

But please, do not use these times of spontaneous fun in order to demonstrate good behavior and learning outcomes. Writing these lines makes me long to be a care worker again in order to play and have fun.

Cheers!