QUESTIONS AND GAMES FOR CHILDRENthis page is still in development
There are a number of questions which i would love to ask children. We need to find a consensus of opinion among small children, to guide us, to help us remember how it feels, and find natural ways to develop our own inner-body awareness.
Talking about it with children, asking questions, and playing games with them, will stimulate any child's curiosity, and also it will help them stay in touch with and develop their own talents.
And it's honest to ask questions. And if they turn this around and ask us for the answers, we can honestly tell them "we've forgotten the answers". Most children will find this a very curious situation.
Help and ideas are welcome from anyone – especially from parents and educators – to develop a practical approach.
Breath and SmellsI would love parents to start by asking their two to six-year-olds (before they start learning about biology): "when you breathe, where does the breath go in your body?"
I find lying down or standing stimulates the feeling of whole body breathing. When sitting the feeling of expansion in the legs is minimal, because the buttocks are constricted. And after running, when i try to quickly pack as much air into my lungs as possible, it can feel as though i'm pulling the air out of my arms.
So then ask : Where do smells go in your body? – When you smell this food cooking, where do you sense it? "can you feel it in the back of your head, your neck, the top of your head or anywhere in your body?". And "is it a taste or a smell? or both?"
Then (before a child learns anything about 'my beating heart') – where is the beating coming from? where is it strongest?
Inner Body SenseCan you listen inside your own body, is it very quiet there or are there any noises, for example after eating?
And can you taste inside your own body, how does it taste on your lips or under your tongue, or the roof of your mouth, and can you taste down in your belly, and how does it feel? sweet, dry, salty, like walnuts, or like rhubarb? And on 'this picture of the mouth', draw in which colours it tastes like.
What do you see when you close your eyes? Draw it.
Animals with a sharp visual accuity will have a vivid imaginary picture of how it looks inside their body. Ask: can you see inside your body, how do the bones look, how does your stomach look, how does your skin look from the inside? Ask a child to draw how their body looks from the inside.
Empathy With AnimalsHow does it feel to be a hedgehog? – a hare? – a horse? – explore imagination and empathy. Yes also research the science – (children's science books are wonderful) – but do it in balance with empathy for how it actually feels to be that animal.
We must play at 'going on the lookout' with our children. Watching for movements all around and out of the corners of our eyes like blackbirds – listening-out for dogs and humans like a hare does – and smelling on the wind for coffee or food cooking, just as the hedgehog will smell for apples and beetles.
How does it feel to be a hedgehog hardly able to see or hear, but with a vivid sense of smell?
How does it feel to be a giraffe with a 6 feet long neck?
How does it feel to be an elephant with a nose which is also a hand?
The Little PeopleSome children have the fantasy of lots of little people living in our bodies, running around passing messages to each other, and generally organising everything. I can't clearly remember anything except that they had hands, and they could see!
No one ever talked about it, or encouraged it. As a child, i realised it was purely fantasy. I occasionally used it to heal pains as i grew older, but gradually grew out of it.
Since then, i've watched films about it, heard jokes about it, and i believe it's a common childhood experience – even if not, it could be easily taught. This abstract fantasy (which seems to be a naturally occurring one), is a very effective abstract way of making a connection with our bodies, of being in touch with ourselves.
So i'd like to ask children about their little people, and what they are all doing inside their bodies. And i'd like to ask things like, can these little people see, hear, smell and taste.
We need a series of games.Blindfold tasting and smelling games. (These senses are usually only trained for specialist jobs like wine connoisseur, perfumer, aroma therapist or master chef. Their training methods could be adapted.)
Which colours do children associate with which tastes and smells? Get children to draw where which colours fill their bodies.
Human adults think: objects produce smells – hedgehogs have very poor eyesight and hearing, similar to blindfold with earplugs – a hedgehog thinks, and experiences: smells produce objects. They stumble around through the undergrowth, picking up scents on the wind, which then turn into apples or beetles. Could a blindfold baby choose which direction to crawl in, between maybe an onion, roast chicken, and warm milk and honey?
Games could be developed to stimulate the vision, maybe even a machine which projects random laser colours to blink irregularly on the walls, ceiling and floor, first slowly, then just a split second, the game is to recognise the colour.
Children's games include... imagine a car horn is a wild-boar... the approaching helicopter is a swarm of locusts... the rustle of a bit of litter is a snake ...
Distances, wavelengths and directions of sound (and smell) could be encouraged with just listening-out for surprises, imagining we're all early man sitting on a hill top, listening-out for wild boar, mammoths and snakes. Can you hear any? (maybe motorbikes are modern wild boar).
Instead of asking a group of children to be silent, ask them : who can hear the first dog bark or pigeon cooing? This makes everyone collectively silent in order to listen.
This list is not complete. You will realise it is a vast subject. Other ideas could be developed from many of the pages on this site.