Last night was game night and, while we were waiting for our last member to arrive, I pulled out the HABA game Animal Upon Animal. It’s a very simple stacking and balance game, perfect for the 4-6 year old crowd.
While I find Animal Upon Animal delightful by itself, last night I added a twist - with each play, you had to add a detail about the life of a sad post office employee.
I sort of did this as a joke but it actually made the game riveting. Together we told a really interesting, coherent, and drama-filled story that ended neatly when someone won the game (it was me). The skills we were employing were at odds with each other - orderly rules following, tactile play requiring judgement and precision, and the necessity of creative input into an existing narrative all came together in a fun, challenging way.
I think our story was actually better because of the kinesthetic component. It reminded me a little of having to touch the tower in Star Crossed. Maybe it forced us to lower our guard and just “empty mind” our contributions a little. Maybe just having something to do with our hands was helpful. It was an interesting experiment I will definitely repeat.