Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ducking Out of Duck, Duck Goose

The rules to play the traditional children’s game of Duck, Duck, Goose are generally that all players except "IT" sits in a circle. IT (sometimes called the "goose") walks around the outside of the circle, behind the players’ backs while tapping gently on each of the seated players’ heads, saying “Duck...Duck...Duck...” each time they tap a head. When IT taps a player's head and says, “Goose!” the new "goose" jumps up and chases the first child around the circle. If the new goose doesn’t tag the other child before s/he reaches the open seat in the circle, IT takes the place in the circle and the new goose resumes the game by tapping heads. (If the new goose did happen to tag IT, s/he gets back to his/her spot in the circle and the first child remains IT.)

However, I've noticed sometimes the person who is IT doesn’t just “tap” a child’s head gently, they “hit”! Also, children who don’t want to be “hit” may put their hands on top of their head and lower their heads into their laps. Other children may follow that child’s lead and then there are no heads to “tap,” indicating that no one wants to play the game.

I want to share with you what I feel is a more developmentally appropriate way for young children to play this game in an early childhood classroom or home setting.

A Tisket, A Tasket, My Fruit & Veggie Basket
Materials Needed:
Small basket filled with plastic fruits and vegetables
How to play:
1. Sit young children (players) in a circle.
2. One child is chosen to hold the fruit basket and walk around the outside of the circle, behind the players’ backs while the group chants:

A tisket, a tasket,
My fruit and veggie basket.
I went walking down the lane,
And on the way I dropped it,
I dropped it, I dropped it...

4. On the last verse, the child walking around the circle drops the basket behind a player’s back.
5. That player picks up the basket and runs after the first child, who is running back to the open place in the circle.
6. If unable to tag the player before s/he gets to the open spot, the new player holding the basket must now walk around the outside of the circle, dropping the basket of fruits and veggies behind someone who has not yet had a turn.
7. The game ends when every player has had a chance to hold and drop the basket.

Another way to play this game in a similar way is to have the first child hold a small cardboard pizza box and walk around the outside of the circle, behind the players’ backs while the
group chants:

Pizza delivery in the box,
Pizza delivery piping hot,
Pizza delivery ready or not.

On the last words, “Pizza Delivery,” the child drops the pizza box behind a players’ back and the game continues per the steps above.

Preschool children love the element of surprise that these games offer. Whose back is IT going to drop the basket or pizza box behind? They also love to play chase and the activity of running and increasing heart rates is very beneficial for physical health and development.

These activities are also great for teachers to use when children are in transition -- i.e., waiting for parent pick up or for their group’s turn at the art center in the classroom, etc. Remember young children do not need to engage in competitive games with definite winners and losers. Having fun and playing cooperatively is a great main objective!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kids on Parade! Rhythm Stick Fun

Rhythm sticks or clave (klah-vey)—a Latin name for rhythm sticks—are indisputably one of the best first instruments for young children.

Rhythm sticks are members of the “percussion family” of instruments—which are musical instruments sounded by striking, shaking or scraping—and are tapped together to make a sound. Small percussion instruments are the most appropriate for children ages 2-7 and include the triangle, maracas, bells, tambourines, drums, cymbals and sand blocks.

Rhythm sticks are a natural extension of the sounds children make with their hands (clapping) and feet (stamping). Basic rhythmic concepts about beat, tempo and patterns are great for teaching to young children and can be experienced through a variety of fun activities, including playing rhythm sticks. When rhythm sticks are used in musical activities for young children, the process, rather than the product, is the important goal. Children thrive on the familiar; they enjoy the security of repetition and it’s an essential component for building basic skills and understanding.

It is important that rhythm sticks for the 2- and 3-year-olds be the appropriate size. Chunky Rhythm Sticks from Discount School Supply. are specifically made for little hands and fingers to easily grip and hold. This set includes 24 sticks or enough for 12 children with one for each hand.

Rhythm Stick Play: Objectives/Learning Outcomes
Playing and using rhythm sticks promotes and develops the following:

  • Small motor development—using the small muscles of the hands and fingers
  • Eye-hand coordination—eyes and hands working together smoothly
  • Dexterity—skill and ease in using hands
  • Eye tracking—eyes being able to follow an object as the object moves in space
  • Directionality—the inner sense and knowledge of where things are in relation to the body
  • Auditory discrimination—being able to hear and identify differences in sounds
  • Listening skills—ability to follow verbal directions
  • Coordination—parts of the body moving smoothly together
  • Rhythm—aspects of music having to do with time; patterns of sound perceived in relationship to a recurring beat
  • Beat—recurrent throb or pulse in music; important rhythmic skill to develop before the age of seven as the ability to keep a steady beat is linked to linguistic development
  • Tempo—the speed of music
  • Thinking processes—creative thinking and problem solving; develops memory (pattern and sequence)
  • Crossing the midline—occurs when left or right arms or legs cross over the center of one’s body and promotes communication between the brain hemispheres

Rhythm Stick Play: Rules
It is helpful to establish rules that will make the playing experience a happy and enjoyable one for both adults and children. As the teacher or leader of the activity, do not pass out the rhythm sticks until you have made clear what your expectations are regarding use of the rhythm sticks. The teacher or leader should demonstrate the activity first. If a child does not use his or her sticks properly or safely, an appropriate consequence might be to take them away for a short period of time, allowing that child to observe and rejoin when he/she feels able to follow the rules.
The following are some suggested rules and ideas for classroom and home activities using rhythm sticks:
1. Children sit cross-legged in a scattered or circle formation, ensuring that each child has his or her own personal space.
2. An adult or class helper is the keeper of the bin of sticks and walks around the group to allow each child to pick two sticks.
3. Rhythm sticks are passed out and children lay them on the ground in front of them and put their hands in their lap.
4. Upon teacher or leader instructions, or when the music starts, children can pick up their sticks and follow your lead.
5. When the music stops or the teacher says “freeze” and all activity ceases. If children are sitting, the sticks go back on the ground and hands go in their laps.
6. For organized clean up, an adult or class helper brings the bin around and instructs the children to put the rhythm sticks in the bin.

Rhythm Stick Play: Activity Idea
Pass out the rhythm sticks—, have children practice following a leader as they keep time to the music. Ask the children to stand up and get ready to march (a precise type of walk, accompanied by lifted knees and swinging arms) in the rhythm stick band! The teacher or a child can be the leader of the parade who marches in front, setting the direction and pace of the parade. Select a musical selection with a short, regular beat for a melodic and rhythmic background to accompany the sticks.