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Alternate Activity 3: Barnyard, A Cooperative Listening And Moving Game (10 minutes), Session 2: Conscience: Hearing The Inner Voice

In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Blank paper and marker
  • Paper-cutter or scissors
  • Blindfolds for all participants

Preparation for Activity

  • This activity is best done in a large room with a large, empty floor space. Push chairs or tables toward the walls to make as much space as possible for the children to move. Make sure that there are no sharp or breakable objects in the area.
  • Collect scarves, clean rags, or other items to use as blindfolds, enough for all participants
  • Using a paper-cutter or scissors, cut blank paper into three slips. Make enough slips to give each child one. Write "Cow" on one third of the slips. Write, "Rooster" on one third of them. Write "Pig" on the last third. You can use different animals if you wish, as long as the sound that animal makes is well known and can be easily repeated by all the children.
  • Optional: If you are not sure all the children are readers, instead of writing the words you may wish to find and photocopy simple pictures of the three animals, or combine the pictures and words.

Description of Activity

In this activity, children with blindfolds on (or eyes closed) walk around a room making the sounds of different animals and trying to find the other children making the same animal sound as they are. During this activity the children will practice listening, being respectful and careful with their bodies, and working together. This activity can provide a needed physical activity that is contained, and fun. Using blindfolds also encourages children to interact with and work together with all of the others in the group, rather than just chosen peers.

Gather the children in the center of the space and give each child a piece of paper with one of the three animals written or drawn on it. Tell them not to tell anyone which animal they got. Or, you can simply ask them to close their eyes and whisper in each one's ear whether they are a cow, pig or rooster.

If you wish, have the children try the game with their eyes open the first time. Point out that it is important to move slowly and listen carefully to avoid bumping into others and to hear the sounds you are listening for.

Distribute blindfolds. Some children may not wish to wear a blindfold; allow them to close their eyes instead.

Now ask the children to spread apart so they are not touching anyone else. Say, in your own words:

When I say 'Barnyard,' start to make the sound of your animal. Don't forget to pause occasionally, to simply listen. You will need to move around the room and listen for other children who are making the same sound. When you find someone who is making the same sound, hold onto that person. Then you can both stand still and make your sound together, or move slowly together, making your sound, until all of the other children making the same sound have found them.

Tell the children that, as their group grows large, they should stand still and let the individual children who belong in the group move toward them. Large groups moving around could knock over an individual or a small group.

Sometimes several pairs will form and have to find one another. Instruct pairs and small groups to choose a leader and move together, holding hands, toward the other group.

Tell the children:

When you think you have found all the animals in your group, all of you raise your hands.

Now say:

Barnyard!

Once a group is complete, acknowledge them ("I see all the roosters are together"). Ask the group to wait until all three groups have found their friends. Then, the game is over.

If you have time, start over by redistributing the slips with animal names or pictures, or invite the children to make up new animals for you to assign, and replay.

Including All Participants

One challenge of this game is to ensure children's safety. Two people who are not playing the game should watch from opposite sides of the room to prevent children from going out a door or into a dangerous area. Usually the children stay close together as they are following the noise.

Being blindfolded may be traumatic for some children. Offer them the alternative of simply closing their eyes. Children who are not mobile can become the base for the other children to find. This activity can even be done with eyes open, as in the run-through suggested above, as long as the only sound the children make is the animal sound.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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