We used to play out the whole time as kids – out of sight of our parents.
And “Mother, May I?” was one of our fave games.
Both out on the street and in the school playground.
Can you remember it? Did you play it as a kid? Maybe you called it something else?
It’s kind of a combo of Grandma’s Footsteps and Simon Says.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem like it should be as fun as say Forty Forty – which is our fave outdoor game ever! – but us kids played Mother May I the whole time.
And on a grotty wet weekend in January – when it really was too soggy to go out – I shared it with my 7 year old and we played for ages in the living room. She loved it!
And now I’m thinking the reason it ticks all the boxes as a cool kids game, is :
- firstly, it has a bunch of rules you have to learn to win – and kids like that
- BUT then once you’ve got the rules, you can be oh so creative and twist them.
Which, I guess, is what childhood is all about …
… learning the rules and then stretching them to invent something new.
So anyway, in case you never played Mother May I or you totally forgot, here’s how …
… do share it with your kids – at home and in the classroom – and get them to pass it on.
BECAUSE not only is it fun.
It IS packed full of gross motor skill development.
I’ll explain more in a moment but first the rules.
How To Play Mother May I
- Gather a gang of friends – the more the merrier
- Pick mother – who stands one end of the garden, playground, living room whatever
- Everyone else stands at the other end
- The aim of the game is to get to mother first
- Mother tells each person in turn to move a certain distance in a special way, e.g. :
- take 5 steps
- take 10 baby steps
- take 2 giant strides
- Before moving each person must say “Mother May I?” – if they move without saying “Mother May I”, they go back to the start, to hoots of laughter from everyone else
- So far so ordinary. But then kids get creative and invent crazy movements. We had …
- lampposts – you lie down and stand up where your head reached
- frog hops – bending right down and hopping
- squashed tomatoes – same as a frog hop but with a farty noise for each hop
- scissors – scissoring your legs while jumping forward – pretty tricky!
- crab steps – walking sideways
- tornados – swirling around
- catherine wheels – a cartwheel – I so never mastered them!
- and peg leg – hopping without putting your other foot down between hops
- to name but a few …
- When you’re so busy on hopping or twirling, you inevitably forget to say “May I”
- The first person to reach “mother” becomes “mother” themselves.
Gross Motor Development
Mother May I ticks three big boxes in children’s gross motor development.
Firstly, it gives them an opportunity to explore a wide range of movement patterns.
Associated with all different parts of the body.
And with different sides of the body.
Secondly, it requires them to give language to these movements.
Both in receiving “mother’s” instructions.
And – when they are “mother” – giving them.
Thirdly, children’s readiness to play Mother May I repetitively over an extended period of development, allows them to explore ever more sophisticated movements – and when they invent their own – to adapt descriptive language to communicate them.
This play both depends upon and develops sophisticated movement concepts.
So do give it a go, either at home or school
It really IS a fab outdoor kids game and good for a rainy day if you’re stuck inside.
I do hope your kids enjoy it.
For more simple fun indoors and outdoors do read these:
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