Activity time: 10 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Read the description of this variation of the traditional game, Mother, May I? so you are prepared to lead the game
- Find a large, open space where participants can move unobstructed for at least 20 feet in all directions.
Description of Activity
In this session, lead this variation of the game Mother, May I? to reward participants serving as allies to one another.
Gather the children so they are lined up across one end of the open space. Stand at the other end. Ask them if they have ever played the game Mother, May I? Tell them you will play a different version of the game called Mother, May We? and you will be the leader.
Mother, May We?
The children's goal is to advance toward the leader by following the leader's instructions - but first, asking permission. Tell the children that they need to ask permission, together with the partners who will move with them, by saying in unison "Mother, may we?"
You may address instructions to an individual child by name, to a portion or the group or to the whole group. Each time, make a demand that requires two or more players to move together. For example:
- Luke, take a partner's hand and skip two steps together.
- Dana, find two people with sneakers on, say their names, and all of you take one hop forward.
- Li Ping, go over to someone who lives in the same town as you and take two baby steps together.
- The three children who are furthest back, gather in one place and take a twirly step forward together.
- Everyone who is wearing jeans, find someone who is not wearing jeans and take one step forward.
Of course, be careful to group and partner children according to neutral similarities and differences such as items or colors they are wearing, where they are standing in the room, the public school they attend, etc.
Respond to "Mother, may we?" with "Yes, you may." Only then can the children move forward as you have instructed them.
To make the game more challenging, when children say "Mother, may we?" you might respond, "No, you may not... But you may take two giant steps together (or some other suggestion)." Then they need to ask "Mother, may we?" again. Children and their partner(s) will need to listen for your response before moving forward.
In the traditional game, the first child across becomes the new leader. In this version, when children reach you, invite them to move to the sidelines and coach the remaining children to help them all get to the finish line.
When all children have reached the finish, the game is over. Gather children and process how it felt to play this way instead of individually. Point out that by helping one another and working together, in this game everyone moved forward.
Including All Participants
Be mindful of accessibility issues involving participants and/or leaders. Opt to play the game with hand gestures rather than movement so as not to exclude anyone from playing. As a gesture is accepted, give that participant a check; the first person who gets five checks wins and can now become a "coach" to help the others cross the finish line.