To play a connecting game, just include these 3 things:
Here are a few of my favorite connecting games to play with school-age children.
I hope you enjoy some of them!
Trace a word or phrase on a child's back and have them guess what you "wrote".
Use affirmations, encouragement and positive messages.
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.
Create a special handshake with each of your children, and use it every day to greet them.
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.
Hand Clapping Games
Partner with a child and make up a clapping pattern as you sing the songs.
In a Cabin in the Woods (traditional Boy Scout camp song)
In a cabin in the woods (draw a square in the air with your fingers)
A little man by the window stood (make circles, like binoculars, with your hands and put up to your eyes)
Saw a rabbit hopping by (two fingers walking in front of you in the air)
Knocking at his door (do a knocking motion with one hand)
“Help me! Help me! Help!” he cried (fling your hands in the air three times)
"Before the hunter finds me!" (put hand over forehead as if shielding the sun while looking back and forth)
Little rabbit come inside (motion inviting someone to come to you)
Safely you may hide (rock your arms like you’re rocking a baby)
Keep repeating the song, doing the hand motions but humming instead of singing a line. So the second time you sing the song, you don’t say “In a cabin by the woods”, you just hum it and make the hand gesture. The third time, you leave out both 1st and 2nd lines (humming only) do just the hand gesture, sing the rest. You keep going until there are no words, just humming and gestures. You can also speed up the tempo.
Plainsies, Clapsies (Henry Goyette)
Say one line as you toss the bean bag to a child. The child repeats it as he tosses it back to you.
Plainsies, (Just throw)
Clapsies, (clap after throw)
Roll the ball, (roll hands as if wheels after throw)
Dilapsies. (touch shoulders after throw)
Highsies, (toss bean bag high)
Lowsies, (toss bean bag low)
One hand, (toss bean bag one-handed)
The other hand. (use the other hand)
Touch my knee, (touch knee after throw)
Touch my toe , (touch toe after throw)
Touch my heel, (touch heel after throw)
And under we go! (toss bean bag from under leg)
Try some of these connecting games, or use your own favorite connecting activities with your school-agers. 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.