Young children express a remarkable amount of creative thinking through physical improvisation. They explore their bodies’ possibilities for power, speed, range of motion, directionality, and emotional expressiveness on a daily basis to an extent that would exhaust a professional athlete or dancer.
Games and activities that incorporate opportunities for movement improvisation are a very natural and developmentally appropriate way to stimulate and support young children’s creative thinking.
“His Jumpers Three,” a game included in my book “Teaching Creativity,” brings out wonderful imaginative ideas. It combines the familiarity and steady rhythm of the nursery rhyme with interactive play and creative possibilities.
I start by singing (you may chant it if you wish) the traditional rhyme: Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he!/ He called for his cup and he called for his bowl, and he called for his fiddlers three!
Then I add, to the same tune: And his fiddlers three went fiddle, fiddle, fiddle,/Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle! I move my arms to imitate playing a violin.
Then I say that Old King Cole is going to ask for his jumpers three this time. I choose three children to stand in the circle and jump when they hear the word “jump.” The rest of us clap to the beat. Then children add their own ideas, such as kickers three, swimmers three, dinosaurs three (go stomp stomp stomp…), wigglers three, and so on. Each time three new children do the movement.
Students receive immediate reinforcement for their creative thinking, from the use of their ideas by their classmates, and from the sheer fun of this silly game!