I love this game because it combines play and mindfulness. It boosts brain power and at the same time gets some great laughs out of your kids! The good news it requires very little “stuff” to make this game fun.
Like most of the dramatic play tools I can offer you, this game can spark your child’s creativity using things you already have on hand. I call it “Test Your Touch!” Watch below to learn how to play.
Game in Brief
- Pick 5-10 objects that are fun to touch (read on for my favorites).
- Put the objects in separate bowls.
- Blindfold kids (either one at a time or all together).
- Ask kids to describe what they are feeling.
Play to Laugh
As a kid I remember laughing so hard playing this on sleepovers and as a Halloween party game. Regardless of the season, you can play it on a sleepover, a playdate, or just your average winter afternoon to get some great chuckles out of kids.
There is something giddy-making about the blindfold. It requires a great amount of trust to relinquish one of your senses, and so when kids give over to that it somehow releases inhibitions and joy. Beyond that, the substances can feel really weird and funny in and of themselves.
Play for Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices for kids help them slow down and get attuned to the present. This game grounds kids and really focuses them. As they pay keen attention to one sense at a time, they learn how to filter out distractions. It is a fantastic building block toward introducing your child to meditation. Learn more about mindfulness as it relates to playing from our collaborator, Dr Belinda Bellet.
If your goal is to calm kids down, make sure you set the tone yourself.
Play relaxing music.
Relaxing background mood-music has an immediately chilling-out effect. I love soundtracks, piano or classical guitar music that is instrumental. My favorite tracks for this kind of work are from Ennio Morricone, The Rachels, Cirque du Soleil are Lullatone.
Work together with your child to make a playlist for this if you want them to have a say in what they hear. If they love the music and have had a hand in selecting the songs, they’ll feel more investment in the game while playing which can be really helpful too – especially if it is a birthday party or slumber party.
Ask questions that get them focusing
As they are holding the object:
- What is the texture?
- What is the temperature?
- Is it hard or soft? Heavy or light?
Blindfold with Mindfulness
When you take away the sense of sight, all the other senses get heightened and kids will be acutely aware if their blindfold is scratchy or uncomfortable. Take care to have the cloth be soft. As you put the blindfold on, talk to your kids about what you are doing. Have an adult be in charge of this part!
Have your ingredients picked out ahead of time and portioned out into the bowls. In this way your attention can be on the kids and not on picking or pouring.
Be the Calm you Want to See
Model a relaxation that you want the kids to emulate. If you are placing the bowls down with ease and purposefulness, they will start to feel that energy and it will help them in their own focusing. Mindfulness can start with you.
Play for Brain Development
Working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control are all skills associated with executive functioning skills. The Center on the developing Child at Harvard University defines Executive function and self-regulation as the “mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.” Children are not inherently born with these abilities, but rather the capacity to develop them. They are crucial for positive life outcomes and games like “Test Your Touch” can help build these skills. *
Talk openly with your child about the brain Let them know it is like a muscle that you can strengthen.
You can use this game to develop your child’s executive functioning through play. Here are ways to parlay this game into a great brain booster:
- Memory: Once kids identify the substances in the bowls, they can get a great challenge trying to recall all the objects that they felt. Kids can list them as they remember them or even list them in the order that they felt them
- Planning: Another spin on this game, is for the kids to execute it themselves. They can plan out the ingredients that they want to use, portion them into the bowls and make it happen on their own!
- Mental Flexibility: The simple act of taking turns is crucial for executive functioning skills. Kids can practice patience and waiting for their turn while their friends feel the objects.
- Self Control: When they are observing the game, kids will want to shout out what the object is. Encourage them to be quietly respectful as their friends try to figure out what they are touching! This is fantastic for building impulse control.
Ingredients You’ll Want (and already have)
Here are some of my favorite “ingredients”
- Popcorn (unpopped)
- Pipe cleaners
- Cooked Spaghetti
- Wet Sponges
- Pom poms
You can involve your child in gathering the objects. But it is also super fun to have the element of surprise, so I suggest, at least one round where you pick the materials yourself.
What are your favorite objects to play this with? Tell me how you used this game to bring mindfulness and brain power to your child’s sleepover, birthday party or playdate!
*”Executive Function & Self-Regulation.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Harvard.edu, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2017.