Social Games in Shallow Water
There is something about water that can invite calm play.
Maybe it’s the comforting way water holds your body, the silky feel of it on your skin, the blue color, the buoyancy, the swishy sound it makes when being moved. These elements make water the ideal delicious sensory experience. Children who might otherwise have some difficulty socializing with others can find the experience eased with water games.
Now that summer is coming, get out that kiddie pool or plan to hang out at the shallow end of the big pool and try these easy fun games with your young.
CATCH A FISH
- Small strainers or fishnets
- Ping-pong balls (“fish”)
- Plastic Bowl or bucket
Players are sitting in a circle with each player having a strainer or fish net. Place a bowl full of ping pong “fish” in the center of the circle.
Show the children the bowl full of “fish” and then dump them into the water saying, “Uh, oh, the fish got away!” Show the kids how to catch the “fish” with the strainer and put it back in the bowl. When all of the fish are caught and in the bowl………..oh no, the bowl tipped and they got away again! You could make up a tune using words such as:
If you don’t have ping-pong balls, try corks or packing peanuts or even regular peanuts, anything small that floats. Don’t have enough strainers? Use tongs or a small cup to capture the “fish”
FILL THE BUCKET
- One large bucket
- Individual small cups for each child.
Children sitting in a circle, each with their own cup. The bucket is held in the middle of the circle.
Demonstrate how to fill the cup with water and pour it into the bucket and encourage everyone to do the same while a song is being sung. Sing these words to the tune of “Skip to My Lou” or any other tune:
When the bucket is full, play around with different things to do like make a waterfall by emptying it in the center of the circle. Or, if the kids want it, pour it on everyone’s head. You could even sing an appropriate song about water while their heads are getting doused such as It’s raining, it’s pouring, The old man is snoring Or try tossing the water in the bucket upward and letting it rain down.
Once the bucket is empty, put it back in the center of the circle and play again!
THE SPONGE PASS
- Large sponge
Children are sitting in a circle in water so that they are in full view of each other. If they have already played an active game such as Fill the Bucket, it’s easier to wait for a turn in this turn-taking game.
First demonstrate the actions to the words below. Chant the words or add a tune to these words.
Exaggerate the action so the movement is very obvious to the children. Dip the sponge deeply into the water on the word “Dip” and when squeezing the sponge on the word “squeeze”, make a grunting face as your fingers wring the sponge.
Each child, then, has the whole length of the lyric to play with getting the sponge soaking wet and squeezing it before they have to pass it to the next person.
After everyone has had a turn or two, you can make the game last longer by switching the material, the action and the words. For example with sprinkler cans you might sing: “Fill It Up And Sprinkle It Out Then Pass It To Your Friend” Turkey Basters, eggbeater, funnels and even squirt toys can be cool fun on a hot summer day.
Barbara Sher, M.A.,O.T.R is a pediatric occupational therapist who has seven books published on childrens games. Some of the ideas for this article are from SPIRIT GAMES. Other titles include EARLY INTERVENTION GAMES , PLAYSMART GAMES , SELF-ESTEEM GAMES, EXTRAORDINARY PLAY WITH ORDINARY THINGS and ATTENTION GAMES. You can check out her books and workshops on any on-line bookstore or at her website www.gameslady.com Request for presentations or comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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