Guess the Winning Number
Waiting for someone to arrive can be anxiety provoking, whether it is for someone to come in a car to pick you up or for someone to get off the plane. Or, it can be just plain irritatingly boring. In this game, you can turn those potentially “bummer moments” into a fun contest of who guesses the right number.
Here is how you play:
You and your child/children each make a guess as to how many cars will pass before the right one stops, or how many people will get off the plane or come down to the baggage claim until the right one arrives. Everyone who has made a guess watches and counts hoping that they have the winning number. If everyone’s number has passed and the car or person still hasn’t shown, no problem, just make new guesses (“it wasn’t the 6th car, so now I’m guessing it’s the 15th”).
Whoever is right may get some reward or just get the satisfaction of being right. Everyone gets the fun of focused attention, counting together in sync, and the relief of an interesting distraction. Players also learn a trick to calm their anxiety and divert their attention for the next time they are stuck waiting.
In this same vein, when you have to walk a longer distance—say, from the store to where the car is parked—and everyone is tired and cranky, guess how many steps it will take to get there! Sometimes, for little ones, it’s easier to break it down into smaller goals. “How many steps will it take to reach the lamppost?” “It took us 15…hmm, so how many until the corner?”
What is Being Learned
A side purpose of the game, speaking as a therapist, would be the cognitive gains from estimating distances and the proprioceptive awareness of one’s body movements while walking and counting.
But, the overlying purpose of both games, speaking as a fellow human, is to lighten the mood by finding a way to enjoy the present moment. And that’s always a good idea!
This game is adapted from Barbara’s book: THE WHOLE SPECTRUM OF MOTOR, SOCIAL AND SENSORY GAMES: Using Every Child’s Natural Love Of Play To Enhance Key Skills And Promote Inclusion. Check out Barbara’s other game books at any on-line bookstore.
GOT GAME? Barbara Sher’s ten books in eleven foreign languages has a gazillion ideas on ways to play with your child whether you’re a parent of one or an inclusive teacher with many. Check out any of Barbara’s books such as Early Intervention Games, Smart Play, Extraordinary Play with Ordinary Things on any on-line bookstore.
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2013 Magazine