Playing games equals therapy

Playing games can be good therapy for people of all ages. Find out how, why and what you can do to keep people smiling, engaging and learning all at the same time.

When you play a game, are you getting some type of therapy? No matter what type of game you play, you are learning skills, being taught something, having fun and relaxing. When families play games together, they are building relationships between each other. Team building is learned when teams are formed to play games. If you play certain types of games, your team may help you understand a problem or give you a different perspective on life.

Life skills like decision-making and negotiating are learned when families play games together, for instance when you need to decide what direction to take in a team game situation. Critical thinking is another life skill used in playing games. After the game is over, discuss or communicate with your team what went wrong, what could have gone better and what to change for next time.

The following are a couple of games Michigan State University Extension suggests for building self-esteem, teamwork and communication skills—all skills that have some type of therapy built within. “104 Activities The Build: Self Esteem, TeamWork, Communication, Anger Mangament Self-Discovery Coping Skills” by Alana Jones offers some great ideas for therapeutic activities.

Good Graffiti

Graffiti is a way of letting people know you exist. We see graffiti all over, from notebook covers to walls of buildings, streets, doors, etc. The objective of this game is to give people a chance to express positive qualities in non-threatening manners.

The group size is three or more individuals. You need a large roll of paper, scissors, tempera paint, paint brushes and masking tape.

  • Cut a large sheet of paper for each person.
  • Let the group paint graffiti on their own paper. Have each participant write their own name on their paper and paint two positive words describing themselves.
  • Then, each person must go around the room and paint at least one nice word or comment on everyone else’s paper.
  • Hang all the posters on the wall. Have everyone walk around the room and read their own.
  • Make time for discussion questions such as: Has anyone painted graffiti before? Was it easier to make comments on the paper then to say them? How did you feel after you read everyone’s graffiti? It is important for the discussion piece to be done.

Story, Story

Listening is very important, and in this game you will find out if it was easy to listen and remember, or if you did not hear.

  • Read a short story to a small group. Tell the group to listen carefully to the story.
  • After reading the short story, put it aside and play an active group game or board game for 5-10 minutes.
  • After the game is played, read the story to the group again, only this time stop at the end of each page and ask the group members to raise their hands if they can remember what happens on the next page. Allow them to guess before turning the page. This is a good test on listening skills and paying attention.
  • Take time for discussion questions.

To learn about the positive impact children and families are experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Reports: “Preparing young children to success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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