Last week Robert and I substituted the 3/4 year old Sunbeam class.
45 minutes is a long time for those sweet little restless bodies! We put a puzzle together, played games, told stories, and sang songs about being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They seemed to be engaged in the activities--but every five minutes or so one of them would ask if they could play hide-and-go-seek instead of the game we were playing. Apparently all of them really wanted to play hide and seek. I told them if they were very reverent, we could play hide and seek at the end of class.
And of course, they did not forget that promise. :-) We ended up with about 5-10 extra minutes. I looked around the tiny classroom with nothing but a few chairs (that is all that would fit in there!) and one small table. I thought, Hmmmm, hide and seek might not work so well in here.
Apparently that was just my lack of imagination. True to my word, I supervised the hide and go seek game at the end of class. And the kids LOVED it. They loved closing their eyes and counting. And every time, most of the kids would hide under the table, or behind a chair--completely visible to the "it" person. But that "it" child would walk around the room looking under chairs and around the room until they got to the table or behind the chair and cry out, "I found you!"
In one round, Michael, who was "it" opened his eyes and looked right at the rest of his "hiding" classmates. Then he proceeded to walk around the room saying, "Where are they? I don't know where they are! Where are you?!" In the exact sing-song voice that parents use when they are trying to "find" the kids in hide and seek.
Except I think parents usually think that their child has no idea that the parent can actually see them and know exactly where they are when they say those words. But Michael knew that he could see these kids "hiding," and these kids new that Michael could see them. But because of the limitations of the room, he had to find a way to make it interesting--had to find a way to search for the hiding spots. So he did what he had heard his parents do--fake that he couldn't see them while he "searched" until he made his way over to the table, crouched down, and said, "I found you!!!"
And you know what? The kids squealed with delight when he found them, even though they knew the whole time that he could see them.
Do you think our kids actually know when we're faking that we can't see them, but go along with it because it's fun to play anyway? Because why should they let something as little as not being able to hide well ruin their game? Why not have delight in the game by using a little imagination? And why not employ the same technique their parents use to make the game work?
This little game at the end of class was eye opening to me. To see these kids mimic so well a parent-child interaction made me really think about what my children see in me and learn from me; especially when I am not thinking about teaching them. It also made me realize, once again, how smart kids are. So much smarter than we think. (I wonder how many things they pick up on that we are unaware of?) And how inventive--I mean, why not use a little imagination to make things work?!
I hope you have a chance to sub a sunbeam class, too!