For the past few weeks I have been looking around for materials to put into an essential toolkit for teachers planning to work as volunteers in refugee camps or teaching projects. In just over a month, Heart ELT will launch the first in a series of workshops for teaching in the low resource classroom. The first of these one-day sessions will be run on 12th and 13th August at the University of Brighton. They will be led by Kirsten Wachter. One activity I rediscovered recently that is a must for the low resource classroom and all you need is a piece of charcoal, chalk or a handful of pebbles – hopscotch. The game is not only the best all round total brain workout for children, but brings back fond memories of our own childhood. Yes, nothing new, it’s one of the oldest games around and one of the best.
Let’s revisit the game for a moment; first a bit of history. Some texts say Roman soldiers played hopscotch fully clad in heavy armour to improve their overall fitness and endurance. Others insist the game came from China. The Chinese version was more like the game you see in many school playgrounds today, but it had a much deeper meaning; the pebble represented the player’s soul. The symbolic element was to get to heaven. So, why is hopscotch so important in the zero resource classroom? Well, it’s probably the best activity you could do for a number of reasons, especially in a refugee camp, where children have few opportunities to take part in physical activities. Here’s why. First, as children hop on one foot, they are refining their physical coordination and building neural pathways in the brain. Incidentally, hopping is one of the most complex moves the human body can make. As children master the skill of hopping, they are improving their physical coordination , balance and cognitive development. Here’s the crunch: It’s those exact same pathways which will one day become the channels for left/right brain thinking tasks such as creativity, reasoning, and self-regulation.
More about hopscotch:
How to play
How to draw