Remember the game “Mother, May I?” Try this following-directions tag game that focuses on gross motor skills to the theme Itsy Bitsy Spider. This game is fun indoors or out. And the more the merrier, since that makes it more challenging, too!
What You Do:
- Decide who will be Itsy Bitsy. (NOTE: For the first game, it helps to have the adult act as Itsy Bitsy, to give a solid example for others to follow when it’s their turn.) This person is the designated spider. She should stand on the opposite side of the room (if indoors) or across the playground (if outdoors). Itsy Bitsy stays stationary until they reply NO to a request.
- Now, choose a base location for the game that is opposite Itsy Bitsy and on a flat surface. This is the starting location for the players and a base to run to in order to be “safe”. If you’re playing indoors, a mat makes a good base. Outside, a paper plate does the trick.
- Now the game begins. Itsy Bitsy will say a phrase like, “Jump six times towards me.” All players respond, “Itsy Bitsy May I?” If Itsy Bitsy says, “Yes”, the children move forward, according to the given command (for example, six jumps forward.)
- Play continues with Itsy Bitsy giving different orders each time. Stuck on what kinds of commands to give? Try asking kids to run in place, skip, hop, walk backward, gallop forward, slide, or any other movements that work on big muscle coordination.
- As the children get closer to Itsy Bitsy, and ask, “Itsy Bitsy May I?” the spider may respond, “No!” at any time. When Itsy Bitsy says “No!”, it’s a signal that the spider will try to tag as many children possible before they can arrive safely back to base. Whoever is tagged before making it to base sits out until the next game starts.
- It’s important to remember that just as in “Mother May I?”, the tag works both ways! Those who make it back to base safely continue to play all the players have been tagged OR until a child tags Itsy Bitsy in her home.
This is a great way for kids to let off some steam, to practice listening to directions, and to get a workout. Make sure you continue playing until everyone has had a turn to be Itsy Bitsy!
Alicia Danyali, BS Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.