Each morning, my sixth graders and I gather up for our morning meeting, which we call Circle of Power and Respect. Our routine of checking in and sharing and connecting at the start of the day is built off the tenets of the Responsive Classroom. I really like how it brings us together in a positive way, and the students are ones to lead the meeting, not me. I turn over the responsibility to them as much as possible.
Part of the routine is an activity that can merge cooperative learning with play, and we have a growing list of about 15 to 20 activities and games that we pull from. By January, some of the activities start getting a little old, so I encourage my students to mess around with the rules once we’ve learned them and hack the activities as they see fit. (Soon, I will have them design and write out rules for their own activities).
On Friday, that’s what happened with our game of Four Corners. I’ve tried to represent in a chart what happened as students began to change the rules of this rather simple game to make it more interesting. First of all, the basics of Four Corners is that one person is “it” — they close their eyes and count to ten. Everyone else makes a beeline for one of the four corners of the room, which have been numbered, and the “it” person calls out a number. Anyone in that corner is out of the game. Another round ensues. It’s elimination. The last one standing in a corner wins and becomes “it” for the next game.
On Friday, the student leader started to add corners to the game in the second round, going from four spaces to ten, and changed the entire flow of the room and the game. Then, in the third round, this student decided that only odd number corners were “in play” and again, the flow was altered as kids had to think in their heads which were odd and which were even. In the last round, the even corners were “in play.” More scrambling and thinking.
There was playful mayhem as the leader kept changing things up, taking Four Corners into new terrain for everyone. I just watched from a distance, giving some help here and there. For the most part, I was an observer of play and admirer of the nimble thinking of the students. It was all over in about ten minutes yet the laughter and sense of fun lasted throughout most of the rest of the day.
Peace (in the game),