Ignore the Rules

By , August 22, 2007 6:30 pm


I remember a fun game we used to play when I was in elementary school. Our teacher would have someone bring in an object from home that they would show to the class. The other kids would have to guess what that object was for. It was fun trying to find something really obscure and hearing the creative guesses that my classmates came up with. It was so fun, that I remember it to this day (and believe me, it was a long time ago).

Kids know how to be creative. Often as adults we forget that skill. If it doesn’t have instructions, then we don’t know what to make of it. Our grownup brains love to have rules and guidelines and instructions to help us use a tool, or cook a meal, or play with a toy or game. Most of us expect that things should be done “properly.”

It is so entertaining to give a child a toy (or a “mysterious” object for that matter) without any explanation of “The Rules,” and to watch what happens. My kids really love playing with my button tin for example.

The idea for this post came from a post by Celtic Mommy that I really enjoyed. She wrote it back in June but it has remained in my mind as an interesting topic. Her post is called Playing Games and is about how her 3 year-old is into playing Blokus and Connect Four.

These games are “for” older children than Emerson, yet he enjoys them immensely – in his own, creative way. No grownup has told him: “No, you have to play it this way,” so he has made these games uniquely his own and learns a lot in the process.

Emerson plays Blokus like Tetris, he stacks the differently sized and shaped pieces, trying not to leave any gaps. He plays Connect Four by making different patterns with the black and red disks. I really think that this kind of creative pattern play has to lead to good things for the brain.

So the next time your kids are bored, don’t get out a video, get out a game. Even if it is “too old” for them. Let me know what happens!

(Of course in this day and age, I unfortunately feel compelled to add this: obviously if a game is “too old” due to small parts, be careful that none of them go in the mouth or other orifices, etc., etc., etc. I can see it now – “But ‘Mom Unplugged’ said it was OK to put Blokus in the crib with my five month-old!” NO! NO! NO! That is NOT what I said!!!!!).

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons and photographer Roy Levien Aldaron for this photo. View license information here.

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5 Responses to “Ignore the Rules”

  1. Jenny says:

    What a fabulous idea. I never would have thought of giving CJ a game just to see whats he’d do with it. I’m going to get her a couple this weekend, I think! And I always loved Connect Four- that will definitely be one of them.

  2. meeyauw says:

    I just learned about blokus this week. Tried to find online version for school but the site (blokus.com) was hacked, so be REAL careful if you try to go there. I have a mac so i’m not bothered by the hack.

    What fascinates me about blokus is the similarity to pentominoes. the whole thing is mathematics.

    If you take a square, you only have one way to arrange it.

    If you have two squares, you still only have one way to arrange it. (dominoes)

    what about three squares? (the sides must tough at all points). you have triominoes.

    four squares?

    five squares gives you pentominoes. a neat lesson is to have the kids figure out how many arrangements of these squares they can make. (if you bribe me, i will tell you how many). also: how many will make boxes without tops?

    can you arrange all of the said combinations and create a square (use ALL pieces; the number of which I have not told you yet).

    finally: make a board game of those pieces you made with a checkerboard. for this to work, i make sure that my original squares are the size of the squares on the checkerboard I am going to use. The first person who is unable to place a pentominoe on the board loses. what is your strategy to win?

    finally, John Conway invented the game of Life (not the Milton Bradley game), and it is available online. it is a how populations grow and shrink. it is real science. and many of the populations converge on the shapes of some of these pentominoes.

    ok, i’m done now.

    I don’t know what it is about your posts that gets me going, but you do.

  3. CelticMommy says:

    You are too sweet! Thank you for the plug and blog– I love the way you wrote it! Now that my brother’s wedding is done, I’ve got to get ready to go back to schooland for Em to start school with me! Now I’ve got to comment on your new hilarious blog… well, hilarious for me since it’s not my carpet…
    Heather
    a.k.a. Celtic Mommy, the SAHM rambler

  4. […] you haven’t read my post Ignore the Rules about how children often use toys in unintended, yet very creative ways, please give it a read. […]

  5. […] told myself at the time, that it seemed like a fun game, even if only for the kids to play with in creative ways. Well for Christmas this year, I decided to buy it as a family present. What a fun […]

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