Tuning into your environment is an incredibly useful skill. You’re more connected, engaged, and likely to “see” things more clearly. Why does Mom look like that? Did she have a bad day at work?
A quick look at Mom reveals she’s looking at a pile of dirty socks on the floor. So while she may have had a bad day at work, it’s definitely the socks that have caused the furrowed brow.
But tuning in isn’t a skill that always comes naturally. In fact, it’s a challenge for many kids. It takes a lot of practice to successfully “read the room.”
For today’s Adventure in Learning we’re enrolling the kids in spy school. We’ll get the benefit of sneakily strengthening our kids’ active listening and observation skills. Meanwhile, our kids will think we’re super cool. I’ve also included a memory game because good spies need a good memory. Hopefully next time those spies will remember to put the socks in the hamper where they belong.
Welcome to Spy School
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to enroll in spy school and learn the ins and outs of being a covert operative through games that can be played anywhere and do not require any materials.
Before you begin, start by going over some basic spy behavior. Great spies are active listeners, keen observers, and they have a sharp memory. So that’s what we’re going to work on developing. Our school motto is: Listen, Observe, Recall, Have fun!
The Secret Code Is…
This silly game requires kids to actively listen. Come up with a nonsensical phrase that sounds vaguely spy-like (e.g., The peacock would like to sip tea at sunset). Tell the kids that when you say it, they have to perform a certain action like stand up, sit down, or spin around. Then talk casually about the weather or read them a book. At some point, say the phrase. The first person to perform the action wins that round and gets to lead the next with their own made up phrase.
I Spy has been helping kids develop their skills of observation for generations. You probably know the classic game that requires you to correctly identify an object based on a specific color (e.g., “I spy with my little eye something that is yellow). You can also play it with people when you’re out and about. For instance, “I spy someone eating an ice cream cone” or “I spy someone wearing a coat with stripes on it.” Encourage your kids to use as many adjectives as they can.
I Packed My Suitcase
This memory game challenges players to recall a list of items packed in an imaginary suitcase that can hold anything and everything. Play starts when the first person says, “I packed my suitcase with an (word that begins with a).” The next player repeats the sentence and adds an item that begins with the letter b. The next player repeats the new sentence and adds an item that begins with c. For instance, “I packed my suitcase with an alligator, a brownie, and a car.” Play continues through the alphabet until someone forgets an item on the list.
Want to take things a step further? Try rounding out these games with a good book. There are some really great spy-themed ones out there. The Spy Museum has an excellent collection. You can also find similar titles at your local library.
I hope you and the kids have fun playing spies! Oh and don’t forget, the piglet oinks when the cow moos twice.