Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Review: 101 Pep-Up Games for Children

So, in case you haven't noticed it on the right-hand side, I'm a member of LibraryThing, which is this enormously satisfying way of cataloging one's book collection online. Enormously satisfying for TOTAL NERDS like me, I mean. Oooh, I love me some book cataloging. Mmm-hmmm. And the only thing even more awesome than organizing my books online is getting free copies of books I'm interested in, so long as I review them. Free books = awesome. (Unless you're Mr. Squab, who tells me every time we move that I should not be allowed to own more books than I'm willing to physically carry, myself, from one house to the next. To which my response is, that's what professional movers are for!) So anyway, I got my first reviewer's copy a few weeks ago, and what with siblings getting married and all, I didn't get a chance to write the review until tonight. It's posted at and LibraryThing, but I figgered I'd post it here, too. In case y'all are interested.

As a theatre director and professor, I've had ample opportunity to witness the usefulness of games for energizing and focusing groups of people. Now, as the mother of an extremely energetic one year old (one of her primary nicknames is the Energizer Bunny), I'm even more aware of the basic human need to *move* sometimes. Educational theory backs this up: kinesthetic learning is increasingly recognized as an important and valid learning style. (In my parenting group, our coordinator told us that some districts are even encouraging kids to chew gum late in the afternoons because the motion helps them focus!)

Along these lines, 101 Pep-up Games for Children is an excellent resource for moms, pre-school and grade-school teachers, daycare providers, and theatre folks like myself. The games are well-organized, making it easy to find the right kind of game for your specific purpose. They're ordered from simplest (for the youngest children) to most complex (for kids aged 9-10 ... or immature performer-types like myself). Each game is coded with clear icons delineating how many people the game is for, whether props or music are needed (mostly they're not), whether the game is played outside, and whether or not there's physical contact involved. There are also nice indexes in the back in case you want to find a game by name or requirement. Best of all, the games are simple to learn and play, and many incorporate learning concepts that make them easy to adapt to current classroom lesson plans.

One interesting note: the author is German and the book was originally published in Germany. For the most part the translation is seamless, but occasionally the cultural differences show in the "tips" included with certain games. (Suggesting that teachers light a peppermint scented candle to pep students up is one that I imagine would not be allowed in a lot of US classrooms.) Overall, this book is a great resource and one I'm sure I'll turn to with my own kid and with future students and actors.