“Fox, Fox, What Time Is It?”- A Beloved Game that Helps Stretch Social Muscles

By Kimberley Davis, HFP Teacher

“Fox, Fox, What Time Is It?” is a fantastic opportunity for young children to stretch their social muscle and practice sequence of actions. In the process we’re learning how to connect counting to movement as well. This is important because it teaches children to regulate their bodies.

When the children are taking turns being the fox, they get the opportunity to practice important social skills such as stopping, looking, and listening. Whomever is the fox gets to listen for when the group of rabbits asks what time it is. If the fox says a number of hops that can’t be heard, or forgets to hold their fingers up, they must stop and engage carefully with the rabbits in order to make the game successful. We’re naturally practicing patience, turn taking, and intentionally noticing one another in this space.
 
Secondarily, the children are given the opportunity to practice and repeat a sequence of actions. Sequence of action is important in connecting one to their environment, and making sense of the world. We sequencing in our world every day, be it our coffee making ritual or the pattern of actions performed while getting into our car. Practice sequencing helps us understand patterns and allows the world to be a little more understandable, and therefore a little less scary. 
 
Lastly, “Fox fox what time is it” is a super fun game almost all children seem to love to play – and it can often end up self-sustaining, without an adult needed! (Especially if your children are 3+)  So next time you’re littles need that big movement, give it a go!

Stick Play. It’s Only Natural!

Given the recent ice storm and subsequent fallen branches, children have had easy access to some wonderful raw materials–sticks! Children can’t resist the invitation. They pick up sticks, to build, play or use in new and familiar ways.  Adults can often best support children’s joyful, creative play by geting out of their way.  

This past week, some of the richest invention, play and negotiation revolved around sticks. I got to witness children’s connection to the natural word deepen one stick at a time!

  • D and M plant sticks in HFP’s sandbox to create a forest. They invent  a rich, imaginative game in which they need to water the trees and rescue the dying Earth using magic water, magic dust, and magic apple juice. They make multiple trips to the rain barrel to scoop up water to feed the trees. At one point, a storm knocks down all the trees. A new urgent call for magic water arises. It turns out they are completely out of magic water so they try out some sacred magic apple juice instead.

 

  • In the side grassy area, K finds a long skinny branch and starts to whip it through the air. As it slices the air, it makes a satisfying swishing sound. K feels powerful. Others are interested in doing the same. As they find sticks, we experiment with whooshing and swooshing the stick-sword through the air. V. is disappointed that his thick branch doesn’t make the same sound when he moves it. K offers some words of advice, coaching V to find a narrower branch. As we experiment together, we practice giving each other lots of space so that nobody is accidentally whipped with a stick. In this way, we can honor children’s interest in trying this physical challenge while supporting both their own body awareness and spatial awareness to protect their friends.

Take It Outside! Fresh Air, Nature and Nourishing Play

Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.” – Erin Kenny

Given Covid, all of our in-person programming has been outside. With the open air, we seriously reduce the risk of spreading germs while simultaneously benefitting from spaciousness and natural elements!  We bring a variety of toys, materials and platy prompts outside, further embellishing our outdoor classroom. While we play, we may pause to listen for the nearby woodpecker, dig in the soil to unearth a worm, or encounter a tiny seashell in the sandbox, deepening our connections to the natural world.

   

Leap frogs.                                                 Swinging, pushing, taking turns.

   

Snuggling in close to read together. 

 

Testing our ears with a matching shaker game.

  

Building rainbow patterns with friends.

   

Digging and making sand pies.               

 

 Harnessing the wind, running and decorating using rainbow streamers.

Satisfying Sensory Play at Home

Most young children thrive when engaged in sensory play. Sensory tubs and playdough are two simple. low-cost, satisfying sensory play options families can offer at home. These hands-on activities are typically calming, help children focus and express themselves creatively and are ripe for extended, engrossing play.  At HFP– and likely preschools across the nation– children naturally gravitate to the sensory and playdough tables. These activities are easy to offer at home. 
 
Sensory Tub
  • Find or purchase a plastic tub with lid. 
  • Fill with water or any dry ingredient such as popcorn kernels, rice or lentils. 
  • Add a range of containers or scoops such as empty plastic bottles, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc.
  • Rotate tools inside the table to keep interest high.
  • Borrow a range of sensory table tools  from HFP’s Toy Lending Library to add flare and variety to your home tub. 
  • Cover with a lid when not in use. 
Playdough  
  • Make a batch of homemade playdough.
  • If you make more than one color, consider making primary colors (such as red & blue or yellow & blue) so they’ll blend well when inevitably mixed together. 
  • Cooked playdough recipe here.
  • Borrow a range of playdough table tools from HFP’s Toy Lending Library to add flare and variety to your home playdough. 

Virtual Play Date

While these offerings will likely be sources of joy for your child at home, you might consider amping up the excitement by offering a virtual play date. Children from two households can meet-up and use sensory materials together over Zoom or Google Meet. Children can  mold playdough together or scoop and fill cups of multiple cups of “hot cocoa”… building off the ideas of their playmate while playing side by side.