My Senators of Toad have created a new game. They call it “Dodge Wii”. Those of you who read the post Senators of Toad will know how I feel about dodge ball as an activity in general.
They will also know that I categorically refuse to allow students to play it. However, the absolute need to throw something at another student is so strong among my yahoots that we are always looking for a safe way to meet their precipitative desires.
Then last week, one of my students decided we needed a Yoshi to add to our Toads. Yoshi is another delightful critter from the Nintendo pantheon. It is a cute, green, little dinosaur/lizard guy who helps Mario beat the bad guy, Bowzer. It just so happened that my husband also thought I needed one, and he bought me one at his office. Like the Toads, they are about six inches high and have no hard parts that might put an eye out.
The kids were delighted to discover that they now had four critters to use as projectiles. And at just the moment when they were getting tired of Three Step Toad. Serendipity! Immediately, all thoughts turned to how they might be allowed throw them at each other. The students shyly asked if they could use the four critters to play dodge ball. What could I do? They’ve been throwing one at each other all this year and last. I couldn’t say no.
Students immediately knew that the rules had to be different because there would be only four projectiles in play (as opposed to the usual ten balls or so when they play dodge ball). This is what they came up with:
1) No throwing the critters too hard. If you can hear the beans in the stuffed animal hit the wall, it’s too hard.
2) No head shots.
3) No tug of war with the critters. (They rip.)
4) You must be behind the line to throw.
5) If you catch the critter, the thrower is out.
6) You can’t hoard projectiles. One critter per thrower.
Which led us to an interesting problem. The object of PE is to run around. With only four “balls” most of the class would be standing around in “jail” for the whole time. Yuck. This led us to rule #6.
6) There is no jail. If you are hit, you simply proceed to the opposite side’s team and start playing for them.
I thought this was genius. It means that the students are in motion at all times. It is chaotic, but it works. They rarely stop moving. In fact, last Wednesday, when we first played, the kids were rushing from side to side, and the critters were flying. When I called time, all the kids sagged and exclaimed about how fast the time went. I’ve never seen them so tired. They’ve been playing it with their regular PE teacher since that time, and so the novelty is a little worn off, but even today, with the addition of a rule about not throwing at a student crossing the line, they were hustling.
And the winner? I still haven’t figured out how to tell who won. Today, I thought that the last student standing on one side would be the winner, and I called it as such. But, the students told me that, in fact, the winners were the side with all the people on it. Which is pretty darned impossible. It also means that everybody, including the last man standing, wins. Brilliant! Talk about inclusive.
When I heard this last bit, I almost challenged them on it. But the god or goddess of teaching smacked me upside the head just in time. I’m going to ask children who are being kind and community-minded to stop and be competitive? No. Either they have already figured out that there is little chance of a win, or they haven’t. At this point, it seems they are simply enjoying running around and throwing Toads and a Yoshi at each other. Which is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? I hope it lasts for a long, long time.