I’m writing today to share some fun games that you can play with your family!
You can support your family’s awareness skills by asking them about the details of their environment. Maybe a person walking a dog passes you on a trail; you can then ask your child questions about their clothing, their dog, their pace, and their quality of movement. In a restaurant, invite them to close their eyes and then ask them questions like how many people are sitting at the next table, how many ceiling fans there are, or who just received a cup of coffee. (P.S. This is an easy source of entertainment in situations that might otherwise be bo-ring.)
A version that we often play outside includes asking people with their eyes closed to point to the nearest Dandelion, a fern that is not Sword Fern, a bird that is companion calling, a plant that can be used for cordage, etc. This engages their curiosity and reinforces certain patterns of awareness.
To play this game, lay out a cloth (we use bandanas). Without others looking, put various plants that you’ve picked on the cloth and then cover it with another. Then reveal the plants and give the players 10 seconds to look at them before replacing the top cloth. Everyone then has several minutes to try to find and bring back a sample of each item that they saw. The classic way to play this is that they then place it on a cloth of their own, you show your plants again, and everyone checks out which ones they remembered and those they didn’t. This is a great chance to ask questions to help draw out their awareness (“What do you notice about the edges of this one? Are they smooth or jagged?”) and to give information (“Ah, this one is very cool. I’ve been told that Roman soldiers would carry this into battle to help stop bleeding.”).
To modify the level of challenge, you can have a group of people work cooperatively to all find a set of the plants or you can ask them to work individually and also place the items in the same positions as in the original. Sometimes, I also like to create a “layer cake” version, where I have different sets of plants all sandwiched between layers of bandanas. The top layer starts with things that are likely to be more easily recognized, like plantain, dandelion, and a blade of grass. As things get more challenging, they might include three plants that each have three leaflets (an opportunity to discuss the concepts of entire, lobed, divided, dissected, pinnate, and palmate…) or multiple kinds of ferns.
Change It Up
During a lunch break at our classes, we sometimes play a game with kids in which one person is chosen to be “It”. Everyone pays attention to their appearance while they slowly rotate (often to the tune of a Right Said Fred song from 1992, minus certain lyrics). Then the players close their eyes while the It changes three things- perhaps untying one shoe, zipping a coat, switching which wrist their watch is on, etc. Everyone is then invited to take another look while the “model” slowly rotates, trying to determine what has been changed.
I hope that you enjoy trying out these games with your friends and family!