Have Fun, Play, and then who knows?… You might learn something!

7 12 2012

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I have received numerous articles and videos recently of some respected people who are championing the value of “Play”.  Here are a couple of recent ones that I highly recommend:

Play is more than fun it’s vital!

The Importance Of Play

In light of these great resources I wanted to take the discussion to the next step and provide you with some tips and suggestions to lead others in playful games and activities and point you in a direction to find further resources to PLAY!  Who knows where you can take it from there, but chances are you might learn something.

So here we go:

BASIC GUIDELINES and TIPS for PLAYING GAMES

from the SBCC Manual

Start with the group as it is, considering the age range, clothing, available play area, and their psychological readiness to interact with each other and go on from there.

Aim for games where everyone is involved. Standing around idle is opportunity for shoving, etc. And nobody likes to be “eliminated” from play for a long period of time and have to just stand around watching.

Be very open and welcoming to everyone, even a bit silly, modeling the style of play you want to encourage. Assure them with words and gestures that each game will be fun. Dress up the games with names promising fun, add appropriate “pretend” elements, and develop the group’s ability to play together.

Whatever the situation begin with simple games, easily explained, with simple equipment that provide easy access and that have few rules, that will end quickly so transition can be made to new games. Make room for new arrivals or latecomers and quickly incorporate them into play. Be ready to shift games as group size changes.

Form a circle. This is an easy way to establish that everyone is included and allows for the group to be able to see you giving instructions.  Remove sunglasses when talking to the group and try to position yourself facing the sun so that your participants are not looking into the sun while trying to look at you.

Begin with a general description of the game including its imagery, objective and if possible a familiar game category. Try to give them choices as to who plays what. Practice any special moves or phrases ahead of time.

Have a balance of strenuous and lower activity games. Let players stretch their bodies and feelings slowly at first. Try to conclude with an appropriate “wind-down” game as well. Be sensitive to when the players are getting tired and may need a less strenuous game, or even to stop playing.

Be very safety conscious, and give clear safety instructions to the participants. Make it clear that the objective is a good time for everyone. Use “Bumpers Up,” and “Wog” where appropriate.  Stress the use of strategy and teamwork.  Avoid rough contact games.

Wog!

Work towards building trusting relationships between players. Balance individual expression with group awareness and community sharing. Play down aggressive competition, stress cooperation.

Keep your sense of humor. As the Referee-leader, don’t take yourself too seriously.  One outburst of anger can turn everybody off. Encourage and keep alive the make-believe imagery of the games. Play with them as much as practical and possible. Ideal situations are those where the children take over the leadership of the play.

Try to keep teams evenly matched – Some kids will always try to stay together, boys and girls will tend to separate from each other, some will need some “nudging” to get them involved, hopefully most will show some enthusiasm once you get started. Expect some resistance, be enthusiastic! Have some “Divider Games” in your tool-kit.

Have a signal for “everyone refocus and pay attention” such as everyone raising the “one way” sign. Learn some effective “Attention Getter” activities.

Be prepared to modify the game to maintain or create a balance in the level of challenge. Keep the game from being too goal-oriented. Give everyone equal opportunity to play different roles, and don’t allow certain people to dominate. Adjust the challenge, simplify or complicate moves, in order to adjust the speed of the game, its and the ease of achieving its goal. You want everyone to have as an opportunity to enjoy participation in the game.

Be flexible – if a game isn’t working, adapt the game or do something else.

End the game or change to a different game at the height of FUN.  As a facilitator you need to be aware of the group’s energy and interest level.  Ending a game when everyone is having a good time will keep the energy of the group up and the individuals engaged to listen to what’s next.  Don’t play a game and wait for everyone to be tired or bored in order for you to introduce the new activity.  For some groups, you’ve already lost them.

Watch your time!

________________________________________________________________________________________

Recently a new game book has come out entitled “Find Something to Do” by Jim Cain.  It is a small book containing 123 Games and activities using little to no equipment.  I recommend the book as a helpful quick reference to get the ball rolling and play with groups.  The activities are written to be useful for a variety of leaders so I would encourage you to take a look.

A suggested activity that I have played for years to get the fun and play going with one of your groups is one of my favorite games called Transformer Tag

OR

Heads and Tails Tag

Objective:  to tag the other team

Description:Demonstrate to the participants the two body positions suitable for wogging (moving at the speed between walking and jogging!) Some participants will place one hand on top of the head, while others will place one hand on their rear-end.  Have participants stand with their hands by their sides.  Each participant will be allowed to decide which team they are on when you say “GO!!!”

Participants then immediately declare their identity on their head or their tail. One team (the heads) attempts to tag the other team (tails) and vice versa. When tagged, the tail is transformed into a member of the heads team and vice versa. The game continues until one team (heads or tails) has dominated the world, transforming all of the other teams’ members! Can be repeated although I usually do not play it more than 3 times in a row.

Robert Brack, Spencer Butte Challenge Course Director

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3 responses

8 12 2012
Mark Collard

Hey thanks for sharing. I’m a BIG fan of Dr Stuart Brown’s work, I encourage you to become a member of the National Institute of Play. I’ll post this article on my http://www.blog.playmeo.com platform…. Mark Collard

PS: what is SBCC Manual??

10 12 2012
eugeneoutdoorprogram

Thank you for your support Mark! The SBCC Manual is the Spencer Butte Challenge Course Manual, our internal training document for Challenge Course facilitators.

8 12 2012
Mark Collard

…also, check out this video which speaks to the importance of play… http://blog.playmeo.com/the-future-depends-on-play-seriously/ – enjoy!

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