Why Play Musical Chairs When You Can Play Musical Hoops?

Have you ever watched children play Musical Chairs? When the music stops, the kids push and shove to get to a chair. The first child who doesn’t find a seat sits out of the game, all alone. As the game continues, the kids can get more and more aggressive, stopping at nothing to be the winner. In the meantime, the losers may feel left out, bored or upset. This game is an example of a competitive game. Young children feeling left out is one of the reasons I like to recommend cooperative games for early learning, where every child is a winner.

Competitive games can pit children against each other; during active games children may learn that, if you shove, push, hit or trip, you might gain advantage over the other players and win. Competitive games with just one winner means a whole group of losers. Young children generally play games to have fun and be involved; they don’t want to be quickly eliminated, rejected, left out, hurt physically or emotionally. (Who does?!)

Cooperative games include everyone. Every child is allowed to stay involved, there’s no pressure to win, no fear or anxiety about losing. Musical Hoops is a cooperative game for young children that helps promote self-esteem, sharing, kindness and teamwork as well as develops spatial awareness, gross motor skills and listening.

Musical Hoops

Materials Needed:
One hoop per child
Music/CD player and CD

How to play:
1. Scatter hoops in available space either indoors or outdoors.
2. Each child stands beside a hoop.
3. Start the music and instruct the children to walk around the hoops, making sure not to touch them while the music is playing.
4. When the music stops, each child steps into the nearest hoop. Tell them that it’s fine if more than one child ends up in one hoop. In fact, encourage it!
5. Start the music again and remove a hoop or two. When the music stops, the children step into the nearest hoop.
6. The game continues with you starting and stopping the music, gathering up more hoops and the children scrambling to all fit into the remaining hoops.
7. Musical Hoops ends with one or two hoops on the floor and all of the children working together to make sure everyone finds a place inside a hoop (even if it’s just one foot inside the hoop). It’s crowded but lots of fun!

• Vary the locomotor skill children use to move around the hoop each time you restart the music. Ask the children to jump, gallop, skip, march or walk on tiptoes.
• When the music stops and children stand in the hoops, ask them to count and/or show with their fingers the total number of people in their hoop.

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