Flex those cognitive flexibility skills in a game with real characters! Bear and Dragon stop by to engage your child in a new take on “Follow the Leader”. They must choose to follow or not follow Bear and Dragon’s requests based on the rules presented.
- Activity: Flex those cognitive flexibility skills in a game with real character! Bear and Dragon stop by to engage your child in a new take on “Follow the Leader”. They must choose to follow or not follow Bear and Dragon’s requests based on the rules presented.
- Objective: This activity helps children practice how to remember and follow rules, as well as switch between different sets of rules.
- Duration: 10 – 15 Minutes
Executive Function Skills Practiced:
-Working memory: Children tap into working memory to respond (or not respond!) based on which puppet is in play.
-Inhibitory control: All levels of play keep children focused on responding appropriately to the commands from each puppet. Children are encouraged to stay still and only imitate the actions of the puppet they have been told to follow.
-Cognitive flexibility: In higher levels of the game, children must associate opposite rules when the puppets change roles with little or no modeling.
Ready To Play? Game Levels and Step-by-Step Instructions
- Materials and Instructions List:
- Puppets or Stuffed Animals (Bear and Dragon)
- Character cut-outs on sticks (as alternatives)
- Medium-sized room with a clear space on the floor
- For the first round, choose the right level of play based on your child’s age.
- Consider providing visual cues if your child has difficulty switching between rules.
- Model correct responses to set your child up for success!
Game Level 1 – Sit and Follow Bear: (2-3 years)
1.Have child sit facing you.
2.Introduce Bear puppet and explain the game rules.
3.Bear leads your child through actions, and they imitate.
4.Encourage your child to hide their hands under their legs to help them remember to stay still and listen to Bear.
Game Level 2 – Sit and Don’t Follow Dragon: (3-4 years)
1.Have child sit facing you.
2.Introduce Dragon puppet and explain the game rules.
3.Dragon leads your child through actions, but they don’t imitate.
4.Remind your child not to listen to Dragon and to stay still while playing.
Game Level 3 – Alternate Bear and Dragon (with modeling): (4-5 years)
1.Have child stand facing you.
2.Introduce both puppets and clarify when to follow each puppet’s commands.
3.Ensure child understands the rules and which puppet’s commands to follow.
4.Conduct rounds with both Bear and Dragon, modeling correct responses.
Game Level 4 – Alternate Bear and Dragon (no modeling): (5+ years)
1.Repeat Level 3 but without adult modeling, making it more challenging.
2.Encourage child to remember the rules and control their impulses during the Dragon’s turn.
Game Level 5 – Follow Dragon NOT Bear: (5+ years)
1.Child follows Dragon’s commands and ignore Bear’s commands.
2.Remind them of the rule reversal and ensure they understand.
Talk And Reflect
At the end of each activity, discuss with your child what they found challenging and what strategies helped them. Encourage them to reflect on their experience.
“What part of the game was the hardest for you? What part was the easiest?”
Additional Ideas & Resources:
Try the activity at different times of the day and in various settings to keep it engaging.
Consider creating sock or stick puppets for Bear and Dragon during craft time.
Incorporate vocabulary and knowledge by using keywords from categories for actions (e.g., animals, vehicles, colors).
Turn the activity into group playtime! Be sure there is enough floor space for all children to sit or stand and imitate the characters.
Let older children take turns leading the game.