I have no idea if there is a real game called People to People or if I learned of it at one of my previous positions, but this is a great one that you should know too.
People to People is a gross motor game that is fun and engaging and children love it. It is noncompetitive and is played for as long a time or as short a time as interest dictates. It requires no materials, just a leader and (ideally) a large space.
Gather the children together and explain the rules. The rules are simple:
1. There is a leader.
2. Everyone else is a player or an observer (children can choose to opt out and watch).
3. Players have to find partners while they play.
4. Players should find a new partner every time the leader calls out, “People to people.” Players should never pick the same partner again.
The leader calls out two body parts and the children find a partner and connect the body parts. For example, the leader says, “Elbow to elbow,” and the children find a partner and put their elbows together. The leader then calls out another set of body parts, i.e., head to head, or foot to foot. This continues until the leader calls out, “People to people,” and the children have to find a new partner and it begins again. With very young children keeping it simple is best. Choose body parts that they know and are easy for them to identify on themselves and on others. As the children get older, you can mix it up and get tricky, with body parts like, hips, calves, shins, and pinkies. You can also make it even trickier by having the children connect two parts that are not the same, i.e., finger to foot, or head to belly. The children not only have to identify each body part but they also have to negotiate who is the head and who is the belly. This requires a lot of social navigation.
People to People supports matching skills and asks that the children sort and resort themselves out while finding partners. They have to find new partners and use the concept of “elimination” so they don’t choose the same partner more than once. Not only are they practicing following directions, this game focuses on prosocial behaviors that encourage turn-taking, compromise, and social generosity.
Give it a try and let us know how it goes.