Social distancing as we know it now is to prevent the spread of the virus. We have to come to accept that. But we are humans and the primary function of survival in humans is having a social connection and interaction with others. We rely on a foundation of relationships but social distancing is disrupting our social connections and this disconnection is spreading something other than the virus… emotional distress and trauma within ourselves.
There have been many videos and articles highlighting the emotional trauma that the children will be experiencing while being back at school and having to social distance from their friends. This is, unfortunately, robbing us and our children from the social connection in our social settings such as the workplace and school.
Common social connections such as touching, a hug, closeness, good eye contact, spontaneous play, sharing toys, holding hands, showing compassion and laughter, are wedged apart by a virus. The anxieties, fears, traumas, frustrations and sadness that people experienced before Covid-19 could get a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand or a hug. Those essential connections that help us through tough times.
What do we do now, to provide the connection? Even at a minimum?
We should not allow our social connections to be defeated by an invisible virus. Let’s build our social connections again whilst still implementing the advised social distancing.
I want to suggest these games and activities that children can do or play to keep connected yet remain at a distance.
- The Traditional Game of Hopscotch:
(Instead of sharing a stone, try to find your own stone)
- Jump Rope or Skipping Rope:
(Remember to sanitise hands and rope after use)
- Ampe (a Ghanaian children’s game):
This is a game best played with a group of four or more, but just two people will do, too. It’s an active game, with so much clapping, singing, and jumping involved that it almost looks like a dance. It’s a game that’s been passed down from generation to generation. A leader is chosen and the rest of the group either stands in a semicircle or splits into groups of two. The leader begins by jumping, and when you land from your jump, you place one leg forward. Points are earned depending on which leg (left or right) meets the opposite leg of your opponent first. Everyone gets a chance to be the leader and usually the first person to reach 10 points wins!
- Rock Paper Scissors:
(….but play it at a distance and not to touch each other)
- Nyama-Nyama (a Kenyan children’s game): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tpa6FjHObw&feature=youtu.be “Nyama!” is what you have to shout out when the leader in the game mentions an animal that can be eaten. The word literally means “meat” in Swahili. In nyama-nyama-nyama you stand in a circle, with a leader in the middle. The group jumps up each time an animal is named. This game is still played across East Africa and is popular among children of all ages.
- Sing-Along and Make a Song or Antakshari (an Indian singing game):
Basically one person sings two lines from a song and the next person has to continue the “song” starting his first word with the last letter of the word from the previous person’s two-liner.
- Hand Clapping Games: A clapping game is a type of usually cooperative game which is generally played by two players or a group and involves clapping as a rhythmic accompaniment to a singing game or reciting of a rhyme, often nursery rhymes. It also improves memory, co-ordination and rhythm. (TAKE NOTE: most of these require you to clap hands with a friend. Parents or teachers, you can alter it so they clap hands in a pattern on their own mirroring the other in front of them -The clapping games suggested would be best suited for social distancing).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXJsX7T8fYM&feature=youtu.be This game is all about keeping count while keeping your cool. Slide can get pretty intense as your claps increase in number. Try this game with different clap routines where it doesn’t require touching another person but mirroring the person opposite you and see how far you get!
- CONCENTRATION 64: Without repeating or hesitating, players must think of a name or word that relates to a chosen category. There’s no real meaning to the number 64 within the game, but it might be a good challenge to see if you can list 64 words without breaking concentration. The clapping routine for this game can be: clap your own hands together, then slap both hands on the knees, then snap your fingers to your side, and continue in that pattern. Group sits in a circle or at a distance from one another. One person is designated as the leader, and he/she sets the pace. The object of the game is to get to the leader’s spot.
- I WENT TO THE MARKET (OR PICNIC) AND I TOOK ALONG…… (played similar to Concentration 64)…..Without repeating or hesitating, players must think of an object, food or item to place in their shopping basket (take in their picnic basket) and go around the circle and name as many things without repeating the same item or word. It might be a good challenge to see how long a list you can make without breaking concentration. The clapping routine for this game can be: clap your own hands together, then slap both hands on the knees, then snap your fingers to your side, and continue in that pattern. Group sits in a circle or at a distance from one another. One person is designated as the leader, and he/she sets the pace. The object of the game is to get to the leader’s spot.
Sevens puts your rhythmic skills to the test. There are a few rhythm patterns within this game. Once you’ve started, the following player must match your rhythm as you move onto the next one. The tricky part is keeping in sync with the others in the game.
- “WHO STOLE THE KEY FROM THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR” or “WHO STOLE THE COOKIE FROM THE COOKIE JAR“:
Here everyone sits in a circle and does the clapping routine with their own hands (like in concentration 64). The leader appoints a number to each person in the circle, then everyone must look away or close their eyes and the leader will tap a person on their back with a stick (be gentle), therefore appointing them as the person who stole the key or the cookie. Then everyone opens their eyes and starts the clapping routine and the rhyme to identify who was the person that was tapped or that stole the key or the cookie. The members in the group can be given numbers or you can call them out by name.
- Simple Simon Says…..:
One person is designated Simon, the others are the players. Standing in front of the group, Simon tells players what they must do. However, the players must only obey commands that begin with the words “Simon Says.” If Simon says, “Simon says touch your nose,” then players must touch their nose. But, if Simon simply says, “jump,” without first saying “Simon says,” players must not jump. Those that do jump are out. (This guy makes it more fun and tricky to play….) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG1Z-vINXdo
Tips for teachers:
Alright, so you now have some games or social entertainment that can still take place in a social distancing manner. But what about making the rules for social distancing a little more fun to co-operate with……
- Hula-Hoops to instil Social Distancing (…or Car Cardboard Boxes):
With the easing of the coronavirus lockdown, young children in Marseilles were filmed returning to school wearing hula hoop dresses to encourage physical distancing.
How about using cardboard boxes shaped as cars for the child to “drive” in…. they can create and build their own car and paint and decorate it and use it to “drive” around with at school. No crashing or driving into each other, keeping a safe following distance!!
- The lines or barriers that are being used to keep children distanced:
- Turn them into traffic indicators or signs, double or single lane, a stop sign, a two-way road.
- For the teens at school be creative, write out motivating quotes or sayings along the lines/ barriers.
- Turn the bland old square or circle that they have to stand in for social distancing as a “selfie booth”.
- Let the squares or circles be emoticons or place a picture of a famous Instagrammer in the square for them to take a selfie with.
- What about encouraging some graffiti in each block and allowing self-expression…..
- For the younger ones, each area of play can be creatively named, like space planets, or a certain era/ time, or a certain part of the world, or type of animals (wild animals, tame animals, dinosaurs…)
- Playing with toys at a distance:
- If toys are being used, they should be played within a specific space or at a distance of 1 and a half meters from one other (remember to sanitise afterwards). They can also play a memory game with one another, by covering certain items and removing an item and the person in the other area of play (or planet) must guess what is missing.
- Telephone Tin: using two tins tied together with string, the children can still remain a meter and a half from one another and communicate with one another the old fashioned way (remember to sanitise after).
These are but a few of what I can remember or put together to make our social distancing still a little connected and lots of fun!
Have fun and stay safe!