Book Review: 101 Pep-Up Games for Children

This is the book review for the long neglected book I got as part of my LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I moved, I was unpacking, I had holiday knitting….yeah, I don’t really have a foot to stand on. So without further excuses:

101 Pep-Up Games for Children: Refreshing Recharging, Refocusing by Allison Bartl
Hunter House Publishers

Bartl presents simple activities designed to break up the monotony of a school day. A key at the beginning explains how to determine the size of group applicable (pairs, any size group, small group) and if something needs a prop, music, etc. While the keys are useful, I would have liked to see the activities then grouped by the number of children needed. If I’m searching for a last minute pairs activity–I would prefer a “pairs” section. There is an alphabetic list of games and games by requirements (needs props) but not by group size.

The activities range from two or three minutes to games that could probably last 10 minutes. Though an age group is only given in very small letters at the top of the cover (4 and up), I probably wouldn’t undertake most of them with not yet in school–several of the games involve having a child step out of a room. Sequencing and memory are also needed for a number of the games–as well as a fair amount of turn taking.

The majority of the games are familiar variations on traditional themes: following the leader, going on a bear hunt, mimicry, trying to keep a straight face. While simple ideas, they are presented in an engaging fashion that is a quick reminder of a good idea rather than reinventing the wheel. This would make it useful to pull out on a sleepy afternoon when the teacher themselves needs a pick me up.

“Pick Me Up Tips” are sprinkled throughout the book–the majority of which, while interesting, are not useful for a classroom setting. Few teachers can control the types of light bulbs used and burning peppermint candles isn’t often an option. Opening windows may also not be an option. The tips look more appropriate for a private day care setting (e.g. feeding the kids chunks of frozen banana)–which is out of sync with the rest of the book.

Jokes are also sprinkled through the book but didn’t strike me as particularly funny or useful. They may not makes sense to children and are distracting to adults.

Overall I could see this as a useful addition to a school library collection as a resource for early primary teachers (K-2). I hope they will consider reorganizing it to make it more useful, or cutting out some of the pictures and making it smaller. No game should be more than one page long.