There are many different ways for children to interact with each other during play experiences outdoors. Some children may enjoy playing around the structure by themselves, others may enjoy parallel play in close proximity to others, and some may like working closely and cooperatively with others.
Some children who want to play may be apprehensive about the amount of sound and activity on the playground, or they may not be as comfortable with approaching others to initiate play with friends. Providing motivating and fun activities that are adapted to meet the individual needs of children with social-emotional disabilities can help encourage children to play in close proximity to others and to feel included in a group.
Children can learn how to be patient and use strategies to communicate and interact with a friend to provide the emotional security, encouragement, and comfort they may need to play along.
Directions (Ideal for grades 4th - 5th)
In this game of backwards hide and seek, one person hides on, around, or under the playground equipment. All the other children take on the role of the “seeker.” The children search to find the friend who is hiding. When he is found, rather than shouting it out, the seeker joins the child in hiding. As play continues, more children squeeze together in the hiding spot until all children find it. The last person to find it starts the next game by being the person who hides while others count.
More Fun Inclusion Tips
- Provide guidelines where children can hide (Ex. only on the ground level, only where the rubberized surface is located).
- Auditory, verbal, or “hot” and “cold” clues can be given for children who begin to show signs of frustration or need cues to help stay on task.
- Hide an object on the playground and ask all the children to locate it when a child may not be comfortable hiding alone.
- Be flexible if a child needs to watch or observe first before engaging in play or if they need to take a break until they are ready to join in the fun.
- Model and encourage children to provide words of encouragement to their friends to positively reinforce social interactions (Ex. “I had fun playing with you today Sally.” “You found such a awesome spot for all of us to hide. Good job!”).
"When the children were waiting to be found, they started giggling and just couldn't stop!" - Teacher, Chicago, IL