Tag Archives: Games

I Spy 2

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 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.






Tag is one of the most popular outdoor activities here.  Hardly a day goes by without at least one game of tag.  The problem with tag is the size of my yard.  The total playspace is just 20 feet by 30 feet and most of that is filled with obstacles.  The largest open area is just 10 feet by 10 feet.

The youngest children in the group have no problem with the space restrictions when the older children are not here.  For them the game is mostly about running around laughing and having fun.  The older ones tend to be more competative and manipulative – often reckless in their attempt to ensure victory.

Although we have gone to the park to play tag in a bigger space they still like to play tag here too.  With our limited space and the vast difference in the childrens’ physical size the game is unfair.

To level the playing field we tried something different.  Instead of running, all the players must keep both feet together and hop;

We’ve also added a rule about using only one finger to tag in order to combat the problem with punching or slapping instead of tagging.  A couple of the children don’t like this rule claiming ‘it hurts their finger to tag like that’ — those that are being tagged like it much better.

The children have also created a game they call ‘Quiet Tag’.  In this version the child who is it stands still in the middle of the walkway with their eyes closed.  The other children try to get sneak from one end of the walkway to the other and back without getting tagged.

You have to be really quiet when you pass by because if ‘It’ hears you they can easily reach out and tag you. Those who get tagged are added to It’s team until there is only one person left trying to sneak by several ‘Its’ standing on the walkway.

Tag is definitely their favorite game.

Waiting for the Bus

Several of the children in my care take the school bus to school and normally the bus stops to pick-up and drop off the children directly in front of my house.  Due to some major road work in the area the bus can no longer turn onto my street during the morning rush hour so the stop has been moved to the end of the street.

If the lunchtime or after school drop offs had been moved I would probably be annoyed – those are hectic times of the day and a change like that would be very disruptive to our schedule.  The morning walk to the bus stop is actually quite enjoyable.  We listen to the birds, visit with the neighbourhood cats that come to greet us, and enjoy the refreshing spring weather.

There is a lot of traffic at the corner so while we wait the children count cars or play eye spy type games. Last week a police car passed by and the children waved at the officer – who waved back.  The children were ecstatic and a new game began.

The children stand side by side and wave at everyone who passes by.  They smile and wave at every pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle that goes past our location.  They also keep score: one point for everyone who smiles back, two points if they smile and wave too.  The children cheer every time they get a response from these morning commuters and there is a collective groan when there is a surly unresponsive one.  The children could hardly contain their excitement when one driver smiled, waved and honked the horn – THREE points!

So, if you see a group of children standing on the corner smiling and waving make their day and wave back.  Hopefully they will make your day a little brighter too. 🙂

Out of Time

Last week was a short week and I didn’t write a single post — first time I was unsuccessful on the postaweek2011 challenge 😦  I could write a list of excuses why I didn’t have time to post anything but I don’t have time to make the list and I don’t really have much time to write now but mybe just a few lines;

One of the preschooler’s favourite activities last week was playing the Sandwich Stacking Game.

Of course we also went outside too — there was SNOW!  Not much snow but the children gathered up all the snow from the yard and made a pile on the deck.  It wasn’t huge and in fact, it got smaller each day.

The children rarely ventured off the ‘iceberg’ — they were polar bears and they love ice and snow.  There was a quiz you had to answer before you could set foot on the iceberg.

Apparently if you can’t correctly answer questions about polar bears then you don’t belong on the iceberg because you might harm their habitat.  Mini environmentalists 🙂  We’ve checked the Polar Bear Cam a few times but haven’t yet seen one.

I must get back to real work now — even with a long weekend I’m running out of time.

I Spy

I spy is a popular activity for the preschoolers that I currently have in care.  The school-age children are not as enamoured.  You see, it is not that the school-age children do not like the game – but rather, they don’t like the way the preschoolers play it.

My current group of preschoolers range in age from 2 to 5 and most have been with me since before their first birthday.  For these children I Spy originated as an activity initiated – and controlled by – two school-age children who dictated every aspect of the game ensuring that everyone followed the ‘correct’ rules.  Most often the preschoolers were simply props in the older children’s game.

The first time I heard the preschool children engage in an I Spy game on their own was last spring.  We were in the van on the way to a field trip and the school-age children were not with us.  I was concentrating on driving so although I could hear the children in the seats behind me I was not involved in their activity.

When the game first started I anticipated some disagreements since the children were ‘spying’ objects outside the moving vehicle and the other children were guessing objects they could currently see and the original object was far behind us.

As the game evolved I noticed that the children didn’t always describe their chosen object by color – sometimes it was shape or use or ‘starts with’ a specific sound.  The ‘correct’ answer really seemed irrelevant to the game – their focus seemed to be the turn taking and I was engrossed.

Essentially, one child would start by saying “I spy with my little eye something that is/starts with…” and then each other child would guess one or two objects.  Sometimes the guesses were related to the clue, other times they seemed to be random objects.  One child in particular always guessed ‘a dragon’ – this was also the correct answer when it was her turn to provide the clues yet none of the other children ever guessed it and I resisted the urge to do so.

After everyone had a chance to guess the answer was provided and another child was chosen to give the clue.  Everyone was involved even the youngest who’s “I, My, Boo” received many giggles as well as guesses. The game continued until we reached our destination.

To this day, every time this group has to wait someone will invariably say “Let’s play I Spy”.  Whether they are waiting for lunch to be served, waiting for circle to begin or waiting for everyone to finishing dressing for outdoor time ‘I Spy’ is their solution to pass the time.  Recently, while waiting for the other children to arrive for circle the conversation went like this;

  • 2 yo – I spy with my eye something green
  • 3 yo – That? The orange thing over there (pointing)?
  • 2 yo – No,
  • 3 yo – OK, my turn.  I Spy something that is yellow.
  • 2 yo – TV? Book? My Mom? (giggling)

When they are present the school-age children want to intervene and correct the game – this is where I intercede.  I point out to them the turn taking, the equal opportunity, the conversation, cooperation and developing social skills.

The older children are learning too.  Learning to stop, watch and listen before making assumptions.  Learning isn’t all about having the correct answer.