Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- For Pyramid. Optional: Tumbling mats
- For Carry the Load. Two markers, such as orange rubber cones, or masking tape to make two finish lines
Preparation for Activity
- Review the three games offered: Fugitives (Sardines), Pyramid, and Carry the Load. Decide which to include based on the amount of time you have, your meeting space, and the children in the group.
- For Fugitives. This game is based on a version of "hide and seek" that is also known as Sardines. It works best in a space that has multiple options for hiding spaces that will conceal several children together.
- For Pyramid. Find an open space, preferably carpeted. You may wish to lay out tumbling mats to protect children who may fall.
- For Carry the Load. You will need an open space where you can mark a start line and a finish line, about 30 feet apart. Place markers or lay down masking tape to indicate the two lines.
Description of Activity
Participants will physically experience power and strength in a variety of games.
Rename this popular version of "hide and seek" to reflect the fugitive slave experience. The goal of this game is similar to "hide and seek," except that the person who is "It" hides first. Everyone else then tries to find "It." When someone finds "It," they hide with "It" in the same spot. The game ends when everyone finds the hiding spot of "It."
Children will experience the "safety in numbers" which escaped slaves may have felt upon reaching a community of abolitionists and free blacks in the North. They may also experience a feeling of powerlessness; as the hiders become increasingly conspicuous, the larger their group gets.
This game illustrates the power of cooperating together and gives each child a chance to experience how his/her own strength contributes to a group endeavor.
Tell the group you will ask them to work together to make a human pyramid, but first they need some safety guidelines:
- Keep your arms and legs vertical to give your body and the pyramid for maximum support.
- Communicate with each other.
Give the group a safety word, such as "STOP." Tell the children that if anyone is in pain or becomes afraid, they may call out the safety word, and the others will immediately dismantle the pyramid.
Form teams of six to eight people or challenge the whole group to build a three-level human pyramid.
Carry the Load Use this game to illustrate that sometimes power means using the strongest and weakest together in a strategy. Create teams of six to eight players. If the group has a dozen or fewer participants, allow them to work as a single team. The object of the game is for a team to move all of its players from one area to the other, under the following rules:
- To get to the other area, players must be carried.
- The player who carries a person across must be the next player carried across.
- You may use more than one player to carry another, but then the group will need to make sure this "team" of children are the next ones carried. Expect to make a new rule, on the fly, to address such a situation; with participants' help.
- The last player gets a free pass across, but only one player.
- If a team gets stuck or the players agree they have made a mistake, they may start over.
- If a player touches the ground, in any way, he/she must go back.
You may like to warn the group that sometimes larger, stronger children may be inclined to just grab someone and go, but then they may find themselves stuck for a "ride." Or, you may prefer to let the participants find this out for themselves.
If a team succeeds at this challenge, issue the next challenge: They must try it again, but this time no player can carry the same person he/she carried when the team was successful. In addition, if anyone being carried touches the ground, the team must begin again.
Let participants be creative in how they carry each other, but stress safety, and watch for dangerous moves.
Including All Participants
If the group includes movement-challenged participants, adapt these games to create an active role for everyone. For Carry the Load, add a rule which enables a child who uses a wheelchair to contribute to a team solution, but which does not require other children to carry the child together with his/her wheelchair. Some children may be willing and able to have peers carry them from their wheelchair to another chair. However, check with a parent as well as the child, before initiating something like this.