21 October, 2012
Last week our class did some listening work. We went on a listening walk, walked on the line to different kinds of music, and played a truly wonderful game, The Squirter and The Sneaker. To be fair, this isn't the name of the game as it is listed in Chris Holland's book. It is just what our class called the game after we had played a few rounds.
This is the kind of game that is classic, yet I'm not sure I have ever played it in just this way, and I am even more sure I wouldn't have thought of it without Chris Holland and his fabulous book, I Love My World. This is one of my new favorite books. It is chock full of great and very practical ideas of ways to get children engaged outdoors. Not all the activities are appropriate for my PreK class, but many are and others may be adapted.
The Squirter and The Sneaker is a game that is good for many things. It gets children outdoors (always an excellent thing), gives them a focus for their attention, allows them good interaction with each other, and teaches them to pay close attention to the information their senses are giving them. Here's how it works:
bandana to serve as a blindfold
spray bottle or squirt gun full of water
jingle bell, tambourine etc (instrument that makes noise when a child moves while holding it)
Lead the children to a quiet place outdoors preferably where there is material underfoot that makes a fair amount of noise. For example, a clearing with lots of fallen, crunchy leaves would be perfect. Have the children sit in a circle and place the tambourine etc in the center of the circle. Explain to the children that forests (or wherever you happen to be) are teeming with life and activity, but that people have to be paying close attention to notice it. Explain that if they want to see it , the children will have to look carefully, and if they can't do that, they will have to use their other senses including hearing, smell, or even touch! (Some children may be sensitive enough to feel ground vibrations caused by footsteps.) Tell the children today they are going to focus on using one particular sense other than sight, hearing!
Invite one child to sit in the middle of the circle, noting aloud where the musical instrument is in relation to the child. "Alice is sitting in the middle of our circle and I notice the tambourine is in front of and a little to the left of her." If you want to add some storytelling into the activity, ask the child to pretend she is a dragon guarding a very important and valuable treasure. She is a very special dragon though and she does not breathe fire. Instead she squirts water from her giant dragon mouth. Hold up the spray bottle so all the children can see it. If you have a touchy group, you might want to go around the circle giving each child a gentle spray so they know how much water will get on them when it is their turn to act as the "sneaker." Tell the children the "dragon" is a very old and has been through many battles with knights who have foolishly wished to slay her. In one of these battles, she sustained an injury and as a result she can no longer see. Place a blindfold over the child's eyes. Place the spray bottle in her hands and tell her she can spray anyone who might attempt to steal her treasure, but only if she can hear him. Remind the class they have to be very quiet if their fellow classmates are to succeed in stealing the treasure.
Choose one child at a time (the sneaker) to attempt to sneak into the center of the circle and pick up the instrument or "steal the treasure" without the child in the center (the squirter) hearing. Remind the squirter he or she may try to squirt the sneaker only when or if he hears his footsteps. This lets the squirter know that she may not just squirt over and over again willy nilly in order to keep the treasure safe.
Please note: It is a good idea to tell the children it is against the rules to run in and/or out of the circle. This may be an effective way to get the instrument without getting squirted, but is defeats the purpose of the game.