Remember those days of open spaces, noisy friends and long afternoons, which we spent playing a variety of games outdoors? Most weekends were spent playing Hide and Seek, Ring-A-Roses and Seven Stones in the neighbourhood and the physical exercise that we got was an added advantage.
Even in this age of malls, television and tablets, parents should encourage children to play games that promote movement, thinking and creating. Various research studies over the years have proven beyond a doubt that playing simple games that encourage children to use their muscles, jump, run, think and analyse, not only promote good physical health but teach problem-solving skills.
“Nowadays it is rare to see children playing simple games that we used to play when we were young, such as Hide and Seek, Hop-Scotch and so on. I encourage my child to go out and play games with his friends and also in school during recess because I know it is good for him both physically and mentally,” says Akshata S, mother of a five-year-old.
Here are some evergreen games that you can teach your little ones and they will never be bored –
1. Four Corners
Remember playing this game inside the house when you were little children? Apart from being lots of fun, it introduces children to many concepts including dimensions, teamwork, quick thinking and so on. All you need is a room with four corners. Four players stand in each corner and one person is chosen to stand in the middle. Players standing opposite to each other try to switch places without the knowledge of the person in the centre, who is supposed to prevent it. If the middle person is quick enough to spot the switch and occupies one of the corners, the child who loses the corner gets out and goes to the middle.
2. Obstacle course
All you have to do is clear up a wide space in the house and remove the things that can hurt a child. Then place various obstacles such as cushions, baby chairs and other stuff in varied positions to make the obstacle course. To make it more exciting, open up a cardboard box on both sides and create a tunnel as part of the course. This will make your preschooler quite excited and also expand his thinking and problem-solving skills.
3. Hot or Cold
Little children who are just learning to play with children their age are usually fascinated by the mini-adventure that they have while playing this game, albeit inside the house. It is almost like a treasure hunt and preschoolers learn to concentrate, be patient, look for things and so on. First, decide on the space where you will play -- it could be one room in the house. Then one person goes out while the others take a particular object such as a small toy or a ball and hide it in some corner of the room. The ‘den’ searches for the object, while the others prompt saying Hot (implying one is looking close to the object) or Cold (meaning far from the object). Each player can take turns to hide the object.
4. Freeze Dance
This game can be played either indoors or outdoors and is ideal for both toddlers and preschoolers, as it is very easy to play. It is quite an enjoyable game for the little ones as it allows them to get creative with their dance moves. The only thing you need is some music and a few enthusiastic children. Play the music and ask the kids to start dancing. Encourage them to keep changing their moves. When the music stops everyone has to freeze. The ones who don’t get out. The movement involved keep the kids agile and also enhances listening skills.
5. Musical Chairs
This is an evergreen game, which almost every parent would have played. Introduce your preschooler to this fun game, which is all about speed and one’s ability to react quickly. Chairs are placed in a straight line facing opposite sides. There will be one chair less than the number of children. When the music starts, everyone starts circling the chairs and as soon as it stops, each child has to quickly find a chair and sit on it. The one person left without a chair gets out. The game continues still only one child is remaining, who is deemed the winner.
It will be a welcome break for parents, to sometimes join the children while playing these games and relive old memories. Children can also cherish the opportunity of playing with their elders.