Skills practiced: Observing differences (important in seing differences between letters), describing, remembering order, also right-to-left or left-to-right; taking tasks seriously.
B1: A Cupful
Needed: A cup with a handle for each person plus enough small edible treats for everyone to get 5 or more (raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds, pretzels, grapes).
- The leader places his or her cup with the handle pointing a certain way (right, left, straight ahead, straight behind…). Everyone else places their cup with the handle in the same position. Everyone who has their cup placed correctly gets a treat in their cup. Keep playing as long as this is fun and holds everyone’s interest. End by letting everyone eat the treats they have collected in their cups.
- If there are not enough cups with handles, try one of these options: put a plastic straw or spoon in each cup. The leader positions the straw or spoon in different places and the others copy.
- OR Everyone has a plastic spoon, a small stick, a spool of thread, a stone or other item which they place next to the cup. First the spoon might be laying to the left of the cup. Next the spoon might be right in front of the cup, etc., etc. Again, everyone who places the item correctly gets a treat in their cup.
- Be aware that the group will follow your example by watching you. If you are standing in front of the group, it will be as if they are watching in a mirror. Your left is their right and your right is their left.
- If is too tempting for people to eat their treats before the end of the game, give them leaves, acorns, or paper flowers instead. At the end of the game, after each has counted the things in their cup, give them as many treats as the collected items they got in their cup.
Important: Clearly say the word for each location (left, right, straight ahead, facing you), too. This practices or increases vocabulary. If the national language is different than the language spoken at home, try to say the words in both languages.
Needed: Empty plastic cups, empty plastic bottles or other containers, small empty boxes, egg cartons, blocks of wood, etc. Enough for everyone to have the same number of things.
- The leader starts as “the Builder” and builds a design by stacking 4 or 5 items in a certain way.
- Everyone else takes the same sort of 4 or 5 items and copies the design.
- The leader goes around to check. Lots of praise when people get it right.
Variation 1: Architects. If there are not enough items for each person to make a building, they can all become “architects” and draw a copy of the building.
Variation 2: This time, everyone in the class builds their own tower without following the model of the leader. The one who manages to build the tallest tower is applauded and called the Chief Builder of the class.
Variation 3: Work in pairs. Let the participants take turns being the Builder and the Apprentice. The Apprentice copies the Builder’s design. Then the Builder turns around while the Apprentice changes one or two things. The other has to notice the change and copy it.
Needed: The same 5-10 small items for each person. Items could include buttons, nuts, stones, seeds, bottle caps, sticks, toothpicks, (burnt) matches, (plastic) spoons and forks; table or large pieces of paper to lay the mosaic on.
- One person is the Mosaic Maker. This person creates a “mosaic” with several different items. Everyone else looks carefully at it.
- Then each person tries to make a copy of the Mosaic Maker’s “mosaic.”
Variation 1: Everyone looks carefully at the mosaic. They all close their eyes. The Mosaic Maker changes one or two things. Everyone opens their eyes again. Who can spot the difference?
This can also be done the other way around. The Mosaic Maker turns his/her back. Someone else changes the design. Does the Mosaic Maker notice what has been changed?
Variation 2: Work in pairs. Take turns being the Mosaic Maker. Also take turns being the one who changes one or two things in the design. The other has to notice the change and copy it.
Variation 3: Maybe there are not enough items for everyone to copy the mosaic. Then everyone may draw the mosaic on their own piece of paper. The Mosaic Maker checks to see whether they are correct. Or people check each other’s drawings.
B4a: See the Difference
Needed: At least five people.
- Three people stand in a row in front. The leader says something about each of them (for instance: this boy has blond hair, this girl is wearing a green shirt, etc.).
- Everyone close their eyes. The people in the row change places.
Everyone opens their eyes. Can they see the difference? What was the order in the row before?
- Add more people to the row and repeat.
- Add even more and repeat until people can’t remember the changes anymore or until everyone is part of the row.
B4b: See the Difference – with Objects
Needed: Several small objects or toys.
- Use objects instead of people.
Put the objects on a table or in full view of the group and let everyone look at them carefully.
- Then ask them to close their eyes, while you take one item off, add one more, or just change the placement of the items.
- Ask everyone to open their eyes again and tell what they notice as being different, using descriptive sentences as above.
- Repeat a few times, or, if appropriate, give a couple of other people turns to do the changing/adding.
Optional worksheet: Find the differences between two drawings. Find one difference together as a group, making sure that everyone understands exactly what to do. If the worksheet is too easy, people can make their own “find the difference” drawings and exchange them.
Needed: At least three people.
- One person is the “Artist”. The rest all stand in a circle. At a signal (whistle; music starts playing; all start singing), they walk around the circle, waving their arms and hands. At the next signal (whistle; music stops; bell rings), they all freeze.
- The artist chooses the one frozen in the strangest position as a “Statue”. All the others look carefully at the statue, then try to stand exactly as the statue is standing.
- Repeat as long as it remains fun to do.
Variation 1: The artist arranges the statue. Everyone must look carefully, paying attention to details. How are the statue’s fingers arranged? Is the statue’s head up or down? Is he looking left or right? Everyone then tries to mimic the statue.
Variation 2: Instead of mimicking the statue, everyone else turns their backs or closes their eyes. The artist makes one or two small changes to the statue. Everyone looks again. The first one to notice the difference gets to switch with the statue or the artist. Repeat as long as it is still fun.
Variation 3: Twin Statues. Only one person tries to mimic the statue. The rest look carefully. Are the two statues exactly the same? No? What is different? Repeat with others until all who want to have a turn have had a turn.
Triple Statues. A person on each side of the statue tries to mimic the statue. Are they exactly the same? No? What is different?
Variation 4: Combine #2 and #3. The artist changes one statue. Can the others see which one is changed and how?
Variation 5: Sight-unseen Statue. The artist arranges the statue. Someone else is the artist-in-training and has his/her back to this statue. Once the artist is finished, all the others take turns describing to the artist-in-training what the statue looks like. The artist-in-training tries to arrange his/her statue to match the artist’s.
B6: What’s Next in Line?
Needed: 2-4 different types of small items. Items could include buttons, nuts, stones, seeds, bottle caps, sticks, toothpicks, (burnt) matches, (plastic) spoons . . .. Make sure you have 10 or more of each different type (10 buttons, 10 nuts, etc.) for each small group.
- Work in small groups of 2-5. One person is the Pattern Maker. The Pattern Maker lays three to four items out in a line. Everyone else looks carefully at this.
- One person lays down the next item needed to continue the pattern. The game continues till everyone has had at least one turn.
- At the end, discuss everyone’s choices – do they fit in the pattern? Why or why not?
Variation 1: Everyone makes their own pattern by copying the Pattern Maker’s.
Variation 2: Everyone looks carefully at the line of things. They all close their eyes. The Pattern Maker changes one or two things. Who can spot the difference?
This can also be done the other way around. The Pattern Maker turns his/her back. Someone else changes something. Does the Pattern Maker notice what has been changed?