This is a game Story invented to pass the time in the car on the way to and from school. She calls it the Bad Guy Game. The rules are simple. The players take turns coming up with something that bad guys do. Repeats are not allowed, ever. So, for instance, our game would go something like this:
Me: Um, bad guys cut horses’ tails off so they have nothing to swat the horseflies with.
Story: Bad guys tear the roofs off houses so that when it rains everyone gets wet.
Me: Um, well, uh … oh! Bad guys take the wheels off cars so no one can drive anywhere.
Story: Mommy, you said that the day before yesterday. Try again. <sigh>
Me: Oh yeah. Okay. Um …
Story: Think, Mommy. Do you want me to go for you?
Me: No, no, I’ve got this. Just give me a minute. Okay, bad guys take all the puppies away so there are no furry friends to play with.
Story: I don’t like that one.
Me: Me either, but they’re supposed to be bad guys!
Story: My turn. Bad guys take down all the flags and let the colors run out so that you don’t know what country you’re in.
Yeah, Story usually wins.
Nurture the experience:
This game can stir the imagination and go in places you never dreamed of—which is so very important (and fun!) for both you and your child. Give the brain a good workout! A hidden gem though is the opportunity to explore cause and effect. Instead of allowing for a simple answer such as, “Bad guys steal the moon,” press further. What happens as a result of the moon being stolen? What is the effect? The accuracy of the effect isn’t so much the issue—in fact, the sillier the better! Making that connection is what counts here.
P.S. There is no such thing as a Good Guy Game. No matter how hard I try to get it started, it never goes anywhere. I guess good guys just don’t interest Story like bad guys. Foreshadowing? I certainly hope not!
This is another great game for car rides. Akin to I Spy, one player describes something she is thinking of using three descriptors, and the other player(s) must guess what it is. An example scenario follows:
Story: I’m thinking of something that (1) is round, (2) is part of the Milky Way, and (3) has plants on it.
Me: The Earth?
Story: Yes! Good job, Mommy!
In our car, winning only takes place when the player is able to guess correctly. This serves a couple of purposes. First, Story is very competitive and it helps her to take joy in someone else’s success. Second, it keeps the descriptors at a level that is actually realistic.
Nurture the experience:
Take note of the descriptors your child uses and see if there are any opportunities to enhance the discussion. In the example above, I could use the opportunity to talk about how her description of “round” could have also been “a sphere” and the differences between the two. I could have asked her to further describe the Milky Way. Or, I could have wondered aloud why only the Earth has plants on it, encouraging her to think and speculate.
Scribble stories are a great way to spend some time boosting your and your child’s imaginations. Grab a large piece of white paper–the bigger, the better. Pin it up to a wall or lay it out on a table. You and your child each choose a marker, different colors. Your child scribbles over the whole sheet of paper for about 10 seconds, depending on how big the page is. You then place your marker’s tip at exactly the spot your child’s marker stopped and continue the scribble for another 10 seconds. Repeat this one more time each.
Each of you stand back and try to find three to five objects each. (This is kind of like finding shapes in the clouds.) Outline each object with a different-colored marker to make it stand out, and write down the objects at the bottom of the page. Once you have six to ten objects, you’ll begin your story. You will tell a story, using all the objects you found in the scribbles. Your child begins the story, and then you continue the story, each taking turns until you come to the end.
In our scribble story, Story and I found a giant pig’s foot, two balloons, a sea monster, a snow-covered mountain, waves, a fish, a figure eight, and vikings on a sleigh. The story that resulted was a wild adventure incorporating balloons on Balloon Island that had been deflated by a giant pig; vikings on a quest continuously shouting, “Glory or death!”; a sea monster that was afraid of nothing except the pig; and a happy ending that resulted in the resurrection of the poor balloons.
Nurture the experience:
Obviously, this is a great way to sharpen the imagination. This is also a great opportunity to discuss art and perspective. Different people see different things in each piece of art, automatically personalizing the piece to their lives. Or, if you want to focus on the story side of this game, you could explain the elements of a story: a beginning, middle, and end; plot; characters; setting; conflict; theme; and so on. Every game is an opportunity to teach. All you have to do is take advantage of it!