Steal the Jewels
My favorite game – completely made up by the fabulous teachers at my former preschool- was called “Steal the Jewels.”
The premise is simple. Take a whole bunch of shiny strings of beads (the New Orleans Mardi Gras kind work really well) and make a pile of them in one area of your indoor gross motor area, or outside if it is warm.
The children decide the rules. They may choose to make it a chasing game, where some children are the Stealers and some children are the Rescuers. The Stealers run to the jewels and steal one string (or two, if the children choose that) and try to get their jewels to the Stealers’ place. The Rescuers try to tag the Stealers, and if successful, the Stealers give up their jewels and they are returned to the original spot.
It is helpful to suggest some ground rules that are sure to encourage fair play. Perhaps each child can only steal one string at a time and no one can take a string away from someone who has it in their hands. Encourage the children to make rules that prohibit grabbing the jewels from each other, or tagging too hard. It works best if the Rescuers assign one child to be the Protector of the jewels, and only the Protector can hover around the pile.
Another way to play is to hide the jewels all over the space and instead of Stealers and Rescuers, the children try to get as many of the jewels back to their jewel chest as possible. At the end of the round, use a Bucket Balance to measure and weigh the jewels to see which team has more. This game is fun, exciting, engaging, and the math possibilities are strong. It is interesting for the children to also count the strings of jewels to see if there are “more” in the heavier” pile.