Every minute we spend building our relationships with children is time well-spent, whether it is in families or at school.
One way to build these important relationships is by playing "connecting games."
To play a connecting game, just include these 3 things:
Here a a few of my favorite connecting games to play with preschool children.
I hope you enjoy some of them!
Balloon Keep Up (Torbert, M. & Schneider, L.B. (1993) Follow me too: A handbook of movement activities for three- to five-year-olds. Washington, DC: NAEYC. pp. 51-53)
Have lots of balloons, and children work together to keep the balloons from touching the floor.
Play a game of catch, using a bean bag or ball. Let the child make up rules for how to toss the ball.
Car and Driver (Torbert, M. & Schneider, L.B. (1993) Follow me too: A handbook of movement activities for three- to five-year-olds. Washington, DC: NAEYC.p. 71)
Stand behind a child with your hands on her shoulders.
Direct the child to stop and start using only your hands.
The child can take a turn “driving” with her hands on your waist.
Take turns with a child copying each other’s moves and facial expressions.
Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle (For this story you need two thumbs.)
This is Mr. Wiggle. He lives in a house. This is Mr. Waggle. He lives in a house, too. So open the doors (POP!), put them inside (POP!) and close the doors.
One day Mr. Wiggle decided to go visit Mr. Waggle. So he opened the door (POP!), and came outside (POP!) and he went up the hill and down the hill and up the hill and down the hill and up the hill and down the hill until he came to Mr. Waggle’s house.
He knocked on the door, “knock! knock! knock!” and called our softly, “Mr. Waggle!” but there was no answer so he knocked louder “knock! knock! knock!” and called out loudly, “Mr. Waggle!” but there was still no answer.
So he went back up the hill and down the hill and up the hill and down the hill up the hill and down the hill until he was back at his own house. He opened the door (POP!) and went inside (POP!) and closed the door (POP!).
Repeat with Mr. Waggle visiting Mr. Wiggle the next day.
The next day, have them both leave at the same time. They meet and greet at the top of the second hill then go to sleep when they get home.
“Pom-Pom Push” (adapted from Bailey, B.A. 2000. I love you rituals. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.)
Take turns saying short sentences that end in rhyming words, pausing to let the child say the word.
Create a special handshake with each of your children, and use it every day to greet them.
Welcome Back Ritual
You’ve been gone and you’ve been missed.
Where would you like your butterfly kiss?
(adapted from www.consciousdiscipline.com)
Try some of these connecting games, or use your own favorite connecting activities with your preschoolers. You will be helping your children - and yourself - thrive! Have fun!
Diane T. Goyette, M.A., is a Child Development Specialist and Master Registered Trainer in Texas. She is also the parent of an adult who has struggled with mental health special needs since early childhood. She is passionate about supporting adults' and children's emotional well-being, especially those with challenging behaviors.