Games that Nurture a Habit of Paying Attention to Others’ Needs


Games that encourage children to be noticing other’s and paying attention to their needs ::

Tray of Items – Fill a tray with 10-15 miscellaneous items that the children would be familiar with {toys, utensils, food items, etc.}

There are then two ways to play this game – for older children I would recommend leaving the tray out in plain view during another activity {dinner, school activity, etc.} At a certain point give each child a piece of paper and ask them to number it 1-10 {or however many items are on the tray}. Then remove the tray and announce that the tray has been laying out for them to have noticed and ask them to list all the items they saw on the tray without being able to see the tray anymore. Let them work on this activity for as long as their attention is engaged and then show them the tray. Use discretion to give sneak peaks to the tray while they are working on remembering the items. Point out that just because something is right in front of you it doesn’t mean you notice it. Likewise, the habit of paying attention to other people’s needs takes a concentrated effort.

For younger children pull the tray out while they are sitting down. Put the tray in the middle of them and tell them they have a couple of minutes to look at the items and pay attention to as much of what is on the tray as possible. Take the tray away and discreetly remove a couple of items from the tray. Bring the tray back and ask them to notice which items are missing. After a few rounds of them noticing which items are missing keep the entire tray hidden and ask them to list all of the items that were on the tray. Talk to them about how it takes effort and work to really notice and pay attention to things and that when we’re trying to pay attention to others needs we need to work at it too.

Super Spies – I like this simple game a lot! I have used it with my Sunday School class {grade 4 & 5} and with my own boys {almost 4 & 5 yrs}. I tell the children they are going to play Super Spies and they need to notice as many needs as possible. For every need that they notice they get 1 point. For every need they notice and they stop to help they get 2 points.
Older kids were given a Super Spy notebook to keep track of their list.

Secret Buddy Day – This game has only been played with my two boys, but was a lot of fun! In the morning I secretly told each boy that they were each others secret buddy – they needed to pay attention to each other’s needs and help each other out without the other one knowing what they other was doing!! Obviously it would work much better with more children!

Guess Who? Board Game  – An old board game that requires you to pay attention to the details of a person as you narrow down who your opponents character is. Develops the habit of paying attention to details.

Funny Dinner Night – {or breakfast, or lunch!} Set the table for your meal but leave out necessary items – forget to give one child a cup, another their fork. Leave necessary condiments in the fridge, serving spoons in the drawer – whatever items your child will notice aren’t at the table both for themselves and others eating needs. The goal is for them to notice the needs of those at the table and to fetch those items from the kitchen to meet the needs of the rest of the family.

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