Many years ago I wrote about a group of preschoolers who enjoyed playing their version of I Spy. My current group of preschoolers has also developed their own adaptation of the game but for them it is location/time specific – they will only play it when they are sitting at the table before, during or after meals.
In my schedule as meal time approaches I take the infants/toddlers out of the playroom one at a time so I can change diapers, wash hands, and get them seated before I do the final food prep. I expect that the three and four-year-old children will want to continue playing during this time so I don’t request that they start cleaning. However, they anticipate the routine and rush to put their toys away so they can come to the table.
Children: “The toys are cleaned up, can we come to the table now?”
Me: “The food is not ready and I still have diapers to change. You have more time to play if you want to”.
Children: “We want to come to the table and play I Spy”.
Me: “You could play I Spy in the playroom too”.
Children: “We like to play at the table”.
So, I send them to wash their hands and then play I Spy as they wait for me to finish preparing snack/lunch. It goes something like this;
Child 1: I spy something that is Cheryl’s chair.
Child 2: CHERYL’S CHAIR!
Child 1: That’s right! Now it is your turn.
Child 3: Cheryl’s chair is black, you were supposed to say ‘I spy something black’.
Child 1: There are lots of black things, I spied Cheryl’s chair.
Child 2: My turn, my turn, MY TURN! I spy something that is brown and pink and blue, and green, and gold.
Child 3: AWWCK! That’s too many colours!
Child 2: No it’s not, look at that pillow – it is brown and pink and blue, and green, and gold – see.
Child 3: OK fine, my turn. I spy something that is on that shelf.
Child 1: The shelf by the window?
Child 3: No, not that shelf, the one that is over there by that other thing – beside the curtain.
Child 2: The birdhouse, the pencil, the phone, the book, the paper, the candle, the…
Child 3: That’s right!
Child 1: Which one was it?
Child 3: Umm, the book I think.
I don’t actually think there are any ‘wrong’ answers when they play this game – the turn taking seems to be their main goal. Their language and communication skills are what interest me. Inevitably, no matter how quickly I try to get lunch ready, the excitement level will become far to high and I will have to intervene to remind them about volume and activity level before I can put food on the table. Even once the food is ready the I Spy game usually continues.
Occasionally when the school-age children are here they join in, and sometimes they manage to briefly follow the preschoolers directions. Often they try to enforce alternate rules but the preschoolers just dismiss the new rules and carry on. The little ones enjoy having the older children play along but it is ultimately ‘their’ game and they are not interested in changing it. Just take your turn and carry on.