Each month I publish a free newsletter called Playing With Sound. There is always a new game or some other activity. (In February's edition, perhaps this month's highlight, I explain how to make an oboe out of a plastic straw.) Signing up is easy, as is unsubscribing if you decide it isn't for you. One aspect of it I have really enjoyed is the way it has put me in touch with people all over the world. The easy dissemination of ideas is perhaps the best thing about the internet.
I recently found myself discussing Musical Chairs with a teacher, Claudia, from Uruguay. The problem with knock-out games like this is what to do with the players once they are excluded. As soon as they are 'out' their interest is suddenly diminished and they may well have a sense of disappointment. So how do you keep them happily engaged in the session? The traditional method is to co-opt them as judges but as soon as they realise you suspect their professed impartiality you have lost them again.
I make a couple of suggestions in 'Adventures in Sound' but Claudia has one especially for very young children. She writes:
"You have the game, (ice breaker), "Musical Chairs". In the original, after taking one chair, the person who stays without a chair, loses. Well, that brought me a lot of trouble playing it with the preschoolers, who got really upset for losing and started getting bored - misbehaving, while not playing. So with that age level I play it the same but instead of staying out, the kids have to sit down on someone else's lap, and you keep on taking chairs out and they, as a team, need to sit all on top of the others. It's very funny. And I tell them that I am competing with them, as a group. That I bet that I'll win, and I try to chase the ones that are standing up when the music stops, and it is amazing to see the kids who are sitting down, calling the ones that don't have a seat. I think it is more fun... and builds a group spirit."
It does sound great fun. If you live in the UK (and probably a few other places, too), where every education and child-care establishment lives in fear of both litigation and government inspectors, you may need to carry out a health and safety assessment first, just to cover your back. If, on the other hand, you live in a country where common sense still holds sway I think you'll love this variation.