Playground games strike a chord (anytime)

May 5, 2008

I don’t check my blog’s statistics all that often, but in preparation for a presentation tomorrow I was looking back at which posts interested the most people. To my surprise, one of the most popular — and one that continues to get hits via Google almost every day, two months after I wrote it — was about playground games. (Read it here.)

What most people are looking for, I suspect, is a site with rules for the games. I was too, and my searching turned up nothing very helpful. Then, in last Thursday’s Post-Dispatch, I read this article about Sports4Kids, a nonprofit that works with schools to reintroduce healthy, safe play — the kind that teaches kids to use their imaginations, resolve conflicts peacefully without adult involvement, and simply enjoy their recess time. It’s coming to six St. Louis public schools next fall in the form of a playground facilitator, an adult who teaches kids how to play. What a job, eh?

The best thing about the organization, as far as I’m concerned, is that it has posted its Class Game Time Handbook online. This is a great primer on how to break down organized sports like basketball into their most basic elements and to teach those in a not-very-competitive way so that everyone can have fun. (Those of us who remember co-ed volleyball with horror will be happy to hear that!) There are also variations on the “rough” games like dodgeball that will keep them from getting out of hand.

For basic playground games, there are explanations of the rules, like the 4-Square tutorial on page 79, along with lead-up exercises to teach the kids the skills they’ll need before they actually attempt the game. A very helpful feature is the age/grade level breakdown of what objectives the kids can achieve developmentally. In addition to these, there are dozens of ice-breaker games, indoor games, and cooperative games — the index at the end of the document is a treasure trove of ideas.

If the .pdf doesn’t load right away, be patient — it’s a 323-page file, after all! The rewards will be well worth it. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have the rules for my all-time favorite, colored eggs … but I’ve gone there already!

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