8 Activities To Help Kids Develop Situational Awareness
Updated: Aug 2
This is part of our Girls Who Fight COVID-19 Activity Series. We created this collection to share educational games that teach kids about safety, confidence, and character. We truly hope you enjoy and learn some valuable lessons along the way!
CATEGORY 01: SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Situational awareness is about being aware of your environment. The purpose is to improve your safety, memory, and general awareness of yourself and what's around you. For safety, being aware of your surroundings can help you avoid human and environmental dangers. Think noticing the pot hole in the road while bike riding, a hanging street light, a dangerous animal or insect, or a mysterious car that has been following you. When a person is observant, they gain the needed reaction time to avoid dangers. Outside of safety, greater awareness helps a person with memory. Think remembering where you car is parked and what your passwords are, being able to navigate when lost, being that person who always remembers names and birthdays, and keeping sentimental memories longer. Navigation, sense of direction, memory, and perception are all things that are improved with better situational awareness. The following games are designed to help kids improve their situational awareness skills.
*Note: If your kids are like me when I was younger and LOVE spy stuff, they will love these games! Make sure to put a fun spy spin on them to make them even more enticing!
Observation Scavenger Hunt
The Purpose: To improve observation and the processing of relevant information about our environment.
The Game: Before going on a journey, create a list of things the players need to find on their path.
Nature walk: a bush with berries, a birds nest, moss, a pine cone, four leaf clovers, an insect, something that doesn’t belong.
Car drive: traffic camera, stop sign, speed sign, a bus station, a dog, a grocery store, a child.
Mall: a person with glasses on, a person with running shoes, a person in a rush, a person who’s waiting for something, a person with a name tag, a baby stroller, mall exits, bathrooms, a store that sells a certain object (plates, birthday cards, etc.)
Methods: You can make it a competition among players, or make it a checklist that everyone is working together to complete by the end of the journey.
The Purpose: To gain navigation awareness and a sense of direction. This game will increase the players sense of independence, and if they ever get lost they will be able to stay calm and find their way.
The Game: After leaving a common destination, ask the player to direct you back home. The player should use landmarks, street signs, and directions like N/E/S/W or left and right to guide you. You can also go for walks and bike rides, and on the way back ask the players to guide you home.
Methods: On the first route note the percentage of the path they got right. It’s not about perfection, but about growth. Be willing to walk or drive the wrong way if they make a mistake. It will be an opportunity for them to problem solve, re-orient themselves, and learn. After they get 100% on one route, you can ‘unlock’ a new level, and pick a harder route. Like a video game! 😃
The Purpose: Our memory is like a muscle that can be strengthened. With better memory skills, we save time, stand out, and improve our safety.
The Game: Before going on a journey, let the players know that their observation skills are going to be tested along the way. Along the path, stop to ask them questions about their environment. ‘What color car was parked beside us?’, ‘How many exits were in the store?’, ‘What color shirt was the cashier wearing?’, ‘What exit did we take on the highway?’
Methods: you can make it into a grading system where if a player gets 7 right out of ten, they get a 70% or a B. Let the kids quiz the parents sometimes too! Advance question difficulty as players improve.
Grocery Store Challenge
The Purpose: Improve memory and observational skills.
The Game: Draw a blueprint of your grocery store and write or draw what foods are in each isle. Every time you go to the grocery store find the foods you can’t remember. When you get home, add that to the drawing. After this game your kids will know the grocery store like the back of their hand. They will feel a sense of awareness and competence, and will be of much better assistance when grocery shopping! It will also make one of few accepted outings (grocery shopping) more exciting for the kids.
Methods: Make sure when you draw the blueprint to leave space in the isles to either draw pictures of the foods, or to write them in. Make it fun with color, drawings of the cashiers, the sign out front, maybe even your car in the parking lot! Can be repeated with malls.
Plan A Trip!
The Purpose: It is very important to be aware of cultural and environmental differences when traveling to new places. Every country has different norms, dangers, and safety protocols.
The Game: Have your players pick a destination, or assign them one. They must learn about the geography, environment, cultural norms, and the potential dangers. On your governmental website there will be a page with travel advisories. That is a great place to start! Fill out a Travel Sheet and report information into different columns: environmental, cultural, crime, language, population, currency, emergency response, most dangerous areas. In a different column, note positive things like foods, attractions, inventions, famous people, etc. Be as creative as you want with categories!
Methods: This can be done in a report, a poster with pictures and drawings, or a presentation. If you want to put a fun 'spy' spin on things, make the kids the top secret agent tasked to protect one of their favorite icons on a trip to this country- and it is imperative that they examine every angle that a good spy would!
Find The Exits!
The Purpose: My dad always taught me to note where the exits are wherever I go. This was so that if there was danger and I needed to exit quickly, I could avoid the stampede and escape safely. Furthermore, there is strategy for where you place yourself in a room. For instance, I should choose a table at a restaurant that allows me to see the front door, and where I am not too trapped in by anything. This game is a fun way for the whole family to learn about noticing exits. In any emergency, this would be the first thing you would want to know.
Methods: Use different colors for each thing: exits, windows, escape route lines, dead ends. Find the 'Window Safe Zone', where you would be safe from broken windows in the event of a tornado or earthquake. To make it more challenging, you could also make a full on miniature model of your house with cardboard and other craft material!
The Purpose: This is a really fun game that is a huge hit in all our camps. The purpose is to help the ‘it’ person practice using their senses (other than sight) to analyze their surroundings, and for the other players to use strategy and discretion.
The Game: The playing area is divided into 4 quarters, and each quarter is given a number 1-4. The person who is it sits in the middle of the room at the intersection of the 4 parts and closes their eyes, and counts to ten out loud. The rest of the players move around the playing area and stop at the end of the count down. The 'it' person calls out one of the quarters, hoping to pick the box that has the most people in it. Anyone in that box is out of the game. You play as many rounds until there is only one player left (winner!)
Methods: you can totally do this in your living room or backyard! Find a rope or something to put on the ground to symbolize the 4 squares.
The Purpose: Improve your ability to notice differences, and what doesn't belong.
The Game: Choose an arena- it can be a living room, a backyard, or a kitchen, etc.
Round 1: The player has one minute to observe the arena, noticing as many details as they can. At the end of the minute, the player must leave the arena and write down as many details about the room as they can remember.
Round 2: Have a non player add some items, take some away, and move some things around. The players enter the room again for one minute and at the end they write down what they noticed had changed.
Methods: Tally up the correct items on each players list to determine the winner. To increase difficulty, change arenas, increase changes, and decrease time allowed.
Thank you for reading! We're giving a 10% off coupon for self defense workshops to anyone who shares their projects/activities & tags us! We hope to see you in a real life workshop when the quarantine is over to add some self defense skills to your safety toolbox :)
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