Thursday, October 4, 2012

Red Rover Tag with a Teaching Twist

The preschoolers 2 1/2-3, started playing RED ROVER with me this morning. Another simple game that has AMAZING learning potential. [Skills listed at end of post.] I came up with this about 8 years ago. We play it differently, more like tag...less aggressive, no intentional contact between children, with a LOT OF FUN AND LEARNING!!

I usually get tired of the game long before they do and it is a great tool for reinforcing learning concepts, some very subtle, that the children are unaware they are even learning, but I do.

Usually we have bigger kids for the younger ones to learn this game from, but that hasn't been the case for a while. Plus, you really need a GROUP, i.e. three or more children who are old enough, to play. So this was all new to this bunch of kiddos.

They line up and I call out misc. things like, "
RED ROVER, RED ROVER, send people wearing GREEN right over!" and the children all have to run around me and back to the line while I try to tag them. Some of the call outs I used today: girls, boys, who ever has brown hair, someone who's name starts with an H/A/G, who is 3, who has their jacket zipped up.

For the green, Miss A had to look to the leaves on a flower on her jacket and Miss H to a few sequins on her shirt. It was a good lesson in attention to detail. I just kept giving them hints until they found it. Then they ran.
Often, they WANT to be tagged. I'll scoop them up and whirl them around before letting them run off squealing and giggling. 

The children have to be old enough to be able to have some deductive reasoning and observation skills before they can play in relation to the call outs. In a mixed age group, the younger ones just run with the big kids. However, they are still learning. They learn to:
  • wait until I say OVER to run 
  • to run back to the starting point 
  • to go around me left to right [they always go around me left to right to work that convention!]
  • to elude me 
  • to evaluate space so as not to get run over by the bigger ones 
  • gross motor/coordinated movement 
Sample call outs for early preschoolers.
  • color on outfit 
  • type of shoe such as sandal or tennis shoe 
  • zipped or unzipped jacket 
  • have buttons on their clothes 
  • have something in their hair [barrettes, ties] 
  • color of hair 
  • boy/girl 
  • first letter of name 
  • like [ice cream, cookies, candy, pizza] 
  • have a pet named [Otis] 
  • are [age] 
  • short hair/long hair 


 As the children get older, I increase the level of difficulty of the call outs. 

  • advanced colors such as gold, turquoise on clothing 
  • ending letter of [first or last] name 
  • whose first name has [4] letters 
  • [first or last] name that rhymes with [sad] 
  • [first or last] name that starts with same letter as [cat] 
  • has a mother/father named [Steve] 
  • is the same age as [6-1] 
  • has [brown] eyes 
  • whose favorite color is [purple] 
  • who lives in a [white] house 
  • whose mommy drives a [red] car 
  • who is the [oldest/only/youngest] child in their family 
  • who has [two sisters] 
Yep! The grass SO needs cut!


I also call out some random "thinking" questions such as "RED ROVER, RED ROVER send people with TWO BELLY BUTTONS right OVER!" three ears, no brain, two left feet, etc. You can just see the little minds working furiously, most likely contemplating such things as counting their own belly button(s), wondering if the person next to them has two, if ANYONE has two, is it POSSIBLE to have two? Half the time someone will just run for the heck of it and I have to send them back and we have the discussion. If no one runs, then we still discuss.

I also call out easy ones such as people who like ICE CREAM. Of course everyone runs! But then I will also call out something like, people who like BROCCOLI. Again, you can see their little minds working furiously over such questions as, DO I like broccoli? Kinda. Do I like it enough to qualify to run? Hmmmmm. So they begin to quantify their level of liking to assess if, in their own mind, it qualifies. Some pretty advanced thinking for little ones, and self contemplation, courtesy of a very simple, fun game.

We will also do the same thing, only I will call out animals. "RED ROVER, RED ROVER, send BUNNIES right OVER!" and they all hop over and around me, again trying to elude me, and I'm the same animal, or a predator, for example sheep and wolf. We establish that prior to call out. In advanced play, I will occasionally call out an animal good at camoflouge and say that I can't see them, they blend into the grass. This usually gets a lot of giggles. Especially when I say, "I hope they don't get on me [grab me, pull my hand, etc.], because I can't see them! Their camoflouge is TOO GOOD!" Yep, you can image what happens after that!

I try to make certain that the children get an equal amount of runs in, and that no one is left waiting for more than two turns. But I also want them to learn to be patient and wait until they KNOW their run is legitimate to them. I AM wearing the color green. I DO have two sisters, My dad's name IS Steve. I DO have a dog named Otis. I LOVE broccoli!

This is kind of our outside group circle time. We will begin to do this when we first go outside every day, varying the skill sets and questions, increasing the difficult or tailoring it to specific themes and lesson objectives.

Social: listening, patience, focus, cooperation, following directions, truthfulness, ability to discuss and defend choices and decisions
Math: numbers, counting, logic/reasoning, deduction, shapes, math concepts, sizes
Literacy:  left/right convention [the direction they go around me, always!], letters, sounds, vocabulary
Science: anatomy, deduction
Art: colors, shapes
Gross Motor: sense of space as they try to either elude me or get tagged in a running group, coordinated movement, direction
Identity: sense of self, sense of body, likes/dislikes, personal information, conviction, self-confidence
Multicultural: understanding and acceptance of differences between themselves and their friends
Tags: recess, tag, red rover, red, rover, learning, teaching, kid, kids, group, play, social, emotional, body, skill, children, boy, girl, run, running, following directions, logic, reasoning, deductive reasoning, gross motor, game, preschool, child, care, childcare, daycare, outdoor, outside

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