Elastic Rules Mean More Can Play

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This video clip begins with two boys, Jaylin and Ethan, standing against a brick wall in anticipation of a start signal from Jeriah to begin the race. Jeriah stands away from the wall as if to establish his role as "starting gun". He sees that Ethan is looking at him, so he raises his hand to signal that the starting word "Go" is about to be spoken. But Jaylin is not looking at Jeriah, nor is Jeriah concerned that one of the racers is not ready. We might infer that the game is not about winning and therefore there is no need for an equal chance for all to start at the same time. The game is about running together and yelling. From these simple cues we can deconstruct what the children may be thinking and what rules their actions imply they are using. We can follow the ebb and flow of rules as they change with different leaders and new children joining the race. As is typical when children enter the mode of play, rules change at the margins but the game still maintains a core structure that gives the game an identify and provides group glee for all participants.

These children a part of an inclusive classroom and represent different levels of ability. (We again thank Beauford Elementary School in South Carolina for sharing these moments with us.) We are impressed with how children with different understandings of rules of play can invent methods to signal each other and lead each other in an activity with such group appeal. It is our belief that spontaneous play establishes a dynamic system that fosters the development of all the children across the entire range of abilities. What do you think?

Length of stand-alone master video clip: 2 minutes 48 seconds

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Keywords: Fours, Body, Outdoors, Race, Rules, Games