Apparently the average attention span of a four-year-old is still no longer than 5-10 minutes, which in theory means 6-12 activities are needed for every hour they are awake. Coming up with 124 nuggets of amusement each day is an undertaking beyond my capabilities, but I am always on the lookout for new simple games I can play with Stanley. Here are a few we have devised recently:
1) Musical statues with ‘freezing categories’. Like normal musical statues we dance to the music and freeze when it stops, but as we dance we pick a category that we are going to freeze as. Today’s categories included animals from the zoo (Stan a gorilla, me a meercat); firemen poses (me holding a hose, Stan rescuing someone from a window); Australian animals (a rather limited category this one, but I was a koala and Stan was a kangaroo). We also had Winnie the Pooh characters, princesses and members of our own family. The best thing about this version of the game is it is just as much fun with only two players as you can guess who or what each other are.
2) Twenty questions, four-year-old-style. This is hardly revolutionary, but does pass the time quite nicely. We think of a character from a book or a cartoon and then ask yes/no questions (with no limit on the number you can ask). It helps if the adult goes first with the questions, to give them an idea of what to ask, otherwise you just get “Is it Fireman Sam? Is it Bob the Builder? Is it Postman Pat?” etc.
3) Sausages. This is an old classic from my childhood. Someone asks questions and the other person can only reply “sausages”, without laughing. As soon as they laugh you swap roles. Simple, but fun. Stanley’s killer question, in true four-year-old scat-style, is “What does your poo poo look like?”
4) Can you spy…? Like I-spy, but one player describes something they can see and the other has to find it. Eg “I can see a yellow triangle” (hazard light in the car) or “I can see a chicken” (picture on an egg box). This is good for children too young for I-spy. Another variation as is I-spy colours (“I spy something green” etc).
5) Hedgehogs. Stanley actually learnt this one at a group he goes to so I hope it’s not copyrighted. You need a few players for this one: one person closes his eyes and another hides under a blanket. Then the first person has to work out who is under the blanket. Trust me, it’s funnier than it sounds.
Any other suggestions gratefully received. After all, there’s still 119 spaces to fill – and that’s just today!