At the end of the day, when project work is done and before parents arrive, the children have been playing the classic game freeze dance. The competition usually involves a group of 5 – 10 children with one child being the master of music.
The children are often engaged in investigations and focused on creating new inventive work. There are moments in almost everyday when the children want to play for the sheer fun of it, act silly, and move with abandon. A game like freeze dance, that the children learn at a young age is a perfect complement to the focused work of school and project work afterschool.
When a new game of freeze dance begins, the music master turns on the music and the children begin dancing. Next, the music master turns off the sound at random intervals requiring the children to freeze. If a child moves when the music is off they take a break until the next game begins.
How do the children decide who is the music master? Usually the game begins with one of the older children inviting others to play and they become the leader for the first game or ask someone else to do it. An interesting aspect of watching them play is that the children have a social structure entangled around the game.
During the game exists a constant conversation between the music master and the children. There is a negotiation each time a child is asked to take a break until and agreement is reached. Sometimes the child remains in the game or their negotiation with the music master is not successful.
Game playing looks like many other activities that school age children enjoy. The children love to talk with one another all day, every day, no matter what work they are engaged in. The constant verbal exchange is a continuing practice in enhancing social skills and bonding with peers.
During the game some children dance, other children hop around, wiggle, high step and basically move anyway they find comfortable. The children move with a freedom and joy that is wonderful to observe. The children are totally engaged in the moment and absorbing the joy of play.
What classic games do the children in your program continue to revisit?
How do these games build the social connections in your learning community?