Springboard Songs and Games. Cardboard Box Games. A collection of small group activities to develop imaginative thinking

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1 Springboard Songs and Games Cardboard Box Games A collection of small group activities to develop imaginative thinking Some young children who have delayed or disordered language development, learning difficulties or autism can be very confused by their peers full blown imaginative play. The concept of real and pretend are quite tricky. Some even have difficulty in envisaging things they can no longer see, leading to panic when Mummy goes, something is put in a different place or when a treasured toy is put away. However, within some simple small group activities, they can learn that there is great fun to be had from hiding/finding, and from using everyday objects to represent a wide variety of things. All these games could be used in small groups in pre-school settings or by families, in the home. No expensive equipment or specialist toys are needed. Cardboard boxes are a wonderful resource they cost nothing, fold flat when you are not using them and can go in your compost bin when they are worn out! Other toys and distractions should be put away before starting, so that the children can learn rely on their own ideas, prompted initially by the adult. When the structured game is finished, leave the materials you have introduced available for the children to develop further play ideas and encourage them to generalise their new skills, using them in free play.

2 House Here is a house and here is a door, Windows, one, two, three, four. Let s knock on the door Rat a tat tat Who can we see? It s... ME! [or use child s name if s/he cannot respond] No tune to remember just a little rhyme, but say it slowly and dramatically, with Makaton. Give time and lots of pauses so children can fill in the words. Let each child in turn, or 2 at once if possible, to hide inside and wait for the outsiders to knock; they can then present themselves through the door or look out of the window or pop up through the roof. Peeking through the windows also gives a good opportunity to catch a bit of eye-contact! Large cardboard box with openings cut into it for windows and doors This can be done as a structured circle game or less formally, perhaps outside where the children can be given the chance to paint the house with big brushes. Developing participation within small group, using interest in counting to hold attention Building understanding of concept of pretend Developing positive self image and self-presentation Building tolerance of sharing small spaces and giggles Knock, knock, Who s there? With the children, you can also cut out a letterbox and stick a knob on for a door handle. The children may like to choose some stick-on numbers or to use chalk to put a house number on the door. With the children sitting facing the door, hide an animal behind it, get each child in turn to knock at the door, guess Who s there? (in speech, sign or just by thinking) then open the door to find it. Each child can also hide behind the door and be discovered by the others emphasise It s your friend. It s Jon! A strong open cardboard box with reinforced corners, such as may have held fruit or vegetables. Stand it on one end and cut round 3 sides of the base, making a door that can open and close. 3 or 4 different large teddies or animals. Place a small mat for each child and adult in a circle ideally 3-5 children Understanding that they can pretend a box is a door. Recognising that although they cannot see something, it is there. Projecting their thoughts imaginatively to guess who may be behind the door.

3 Open a present Open a present. Open a present... What s inside? What s inside? Open a present. Open a present... What a surprise!! What a surprise!! (Tune Frere Jacques ) First time, let the children see the items you are using, then hide them behind your back so they cannot see which you have put in the box. Each child in turn can have a turn to open the box, think about what may be in it, perhaps also by feeling before looking, then find it. As an extension, wrap some very distinctively shaped items (eg a ball, a teddy, a little cricket bat) keeping closely to the shape of the item, so that when children open the box they still have to guess by feel and shape, before ripping off the paper (this is surprisingly difficult for some children!) An attractive box with enough surprises for each child. Sturdy wrapping paper and sellotape for 2 nd stage Place a small mat or cushion for each child and adult in a circle ideally 3-5 children Ability to weigh up evidence and work out possibilities Confidence to make a guess although they don t know Idea that they may be right or wrong but it doesn t matter Bear Hunt We re going on a bear hunt To catch some bears We re going to catch a BIG one What a beautiful day!... Uh, oh! Start by reciting a simplified version of the familiar story, dramatically, with Makaton, repeating each line twice. Then lead the children (holding hands as necessary) for a walk around to hunt for bears in the caves. Repeat the first two lines as you walk and introduce some actions, such as tiptoe,tiptoe or splish, splash. Let the children look inside the boxes ( It s dark inside! ) and when they find a bear all run back together to the structured base (home) and hide under the mats/cushions. Repeat the game to find another bear. Several large cardboard boxes, one or two containing teddy bears, placed around the playroom or outdoor area Place a small mat or cushion for each child and adult in a circle ideally 3-5 children. Idea of acting out a story Recognition that the boxes can be dark, gloomy caves Ability to act out feelings (excitement, worry, fear, relief) through changing tone of voice and body language, leading to greater understanding of emotions Ability to continue as part of a group having left the structured base

4 Car Brrmm, brrmm. Brrmm, brrmm. Brrmm, brrmm, chugga,chugga, Brrmm, brrmm, peep, peep. [3 times] Encourage one or two child/ren to sit in the box then sit in front and jiggle the box while singing the song, or pull it along if it is not too low to the ground. Then comment It s a car! But it needs some wheels what could we use for wheels? etc., pointing out the junk collection. This will be a difficult concept for some children, so judge the amount of prompting you need to use accordingly. They may be able to choose items or you may have to pick up something and say This is round like a wheel. How many wheels do we need? or you may, at first, just have to show them that you can make a wheel. Repeat the song and the ride as often as necessary to keep their interest. In due course, they may be able to fill in some of the words or sounds. An open shallow cardboard box doesn t need to be too big (children usually like to fit themselves into small spaces) A small selection of junk, including tubes, paper plates and other round items Setting: Any open space inside or outside. Participation in a pretend game, using child s interest in movement to keep him/her engaged Building understanding that real things can be represented by something else Encouraging weighing up of options and choosing Train The train s in the station. Who wants a ride? Buy a ticket and step inside! Watch the door closing. Listen to the bell /whistle... Ting! Off we go!... Choo,choo! (Tune: The Wheels on the bus, loosely) Give some money (a counter) to each child so they know that they will have a turn, then pull the train (box) in front of them, while singing the song with Makaton. At appropriate time, hold up the ticket to an eager- looking child and hold out your other hand for her/him to give the money. Help the child to sit in the box, ring the bell then pull them along the floor for a couple of metres. Next time, give one of the children responsibility for ringing the bell and the child who has had a turn may be willing to help push the train for the next child. A large open box. Scraps of paper for tickets and a counter or button for each child. A bell or whistle of some sort. Place a small mat or chair for each child in a line or semi-circle ideally 3-5 children but I have had 10 wait happily! To use children s love of movement to promote understanding that everyday objects can represent other things anticipation of turn and interest in others turns ability to sit and wait for turn but also to help others understanding that they have a role to play as well as the adult

5 Rub a dub Rub a dub dub Two/Three men in a tub And who do you think they be? Billy and Harry and Alexander. Throw them out One, two, three! (spoken,based on traditional nursery rhyme) Two children may be enough at first. Help a child An open box with room for 3 children to sit in Setting: Anywhere, indoors or outside with a crash mat on a hard surface. idea that box can represent a boat Ability to share a small space with two others Ability to share fun of movement with another child attention and anticipation to choose a friend to join him/her in the boat (box). When they are sitting, sit down facing them and rock the boat to and fro as gently or vigorously as the children will tolerate and tip them out at the count of 3. Be prepared to repeat this over and over, but then leave pauses for them to name themselves and to join in with the counting. Postman Postman Pat, Postman Pat Postman pat and his black and white cat, He gives out the parcels one by one. Give each child a box and offer the pens and stickers, demonstrating writing and putting a stamp on each one, encouraging them to choose materials and get their parcel ready for posting. All parcels should then be piled up in front of the first postman, who can be given a hat to wear. Sing the shortened version of the song then prompt the child to give out the parcels, naming each child - One for Albert, one for Meera... etc. Repeat for each child in the group. When all the children are confident of this game within the structured small group setting, they can be encouraged to participate in such games in free play with the whole group. Introduce a cardboard Enough small boxes for each child, with a range of little toys to put inside. Pens, stickers and some stick-on numbers depending on stage of children. A hat and, if possible, a toy cat. Small mat for each child and adult in a circle 3-5 children. In due course, play can be generalised across the room. dressing-up and role-play anticipation of turn and interest in others turns awareness and use of children s names ability to approach and give things to other children use of children s interest in number and letters to encourage participation postbox, letters and perhaps delivery by bike, to extend this, generalising the skill.

6 Jack in the Box Jack In The Box, Oh, so still. Won't you come out now? Yes, I will! (spoken) First, hide teddy in the box. Peek in then look at the children a few times showing your surprise. Then say the rhyme quietly, shouting out the last line in Teddy s voice as you make him jump up. Then give each child a chance to be the Jack-in-abox, encouraging them to shout out the A large box and a teddy or other soft toy Place a small mat for each child and adult in a circle ideally 3-5 children Concept of hiding and reappearing Self-confidence and self presentation Turn-taking skills and interest in other children s turns Ability to lie and wait quietly, pretending that nobody knows they are there Recognition of how to use I or you, dependent on who is speaking final line. If they choose not to jump up and shout, you can easily tip up the box on its side saying Yes you will. Father Christmas Father Christmas, Father Christmas, He got stuck! He got stuck! Father Christmas, Father Christmas, What bad luck! What bad luck! (Tune: Frere Jacques) Demonstrate first with toy father Christmas, singing the song with Makaton and pulling the Father Christmas out dramatically at the end, A large box. A toy Father Christmas. A Father Christmas hat. Place a small mat for each child and adult in a circle ideally 3-5 children. Concept of pretend and roleplay Confidence in dressing up to become someone else Turn-taking and helping others Self-esteem and willingness to take centre-stage. repeating Pull, pull, pull! Then encourage each child in turn to put on hat and climb into the chimney. Ask the other children to help to pull him/her out at end of song. If any child is reluctant to have a turn, that is all right they will still learn by watching and are likely to be braver after the game has been repeated on several occasions. They may also be more willing to participate by making the toy do it for them.

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