Survival Skills for Real People
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Granny’s Games for Prepper Kids

How to Teach Alertness Skills          by guest blogger, Granny O., Michigan

Granny here. Let me begin by saying that I don’t intend to go over old ground. Every insult that can be thought of has been said about Preppers being a wild-eyed fringe society who tote guns to keep people from stealing their food supplies while training their children to be fearful of zombie apocalypse attacks.

Nothing could be further from the truth! I’m grandmother to several children whose parents are Preppers and even though I say it myself, they’re delightful, normal kids who do none of the above.

In fact, I think they’re the most fortunate children in America because they have wise parents who are training them to be prepared for whatever may come and to be self-reliant. Who could argue with that?

As a former school teacher and elementary school counselor, I can’t resist teaching my grandkids something when they’re with me. But I sugarcoat it in the form of games and they seem to love it and beg to spend the night whenever they get the chance.

I really thought I’d invented this game until that TV show called PSYCH aired on USA channel some years ago. It’s about two friends who team up to form a detective agency. One of them has the business sense while one was trained by his dad, a rather bully of a cop, to notice every detail and report back to his father when he got home every day. Now I didn’t like the way the Dad got angry if the boy missed even a tiny detail and that’s certainly not part of my games.

As a result of the alertness of the one character, he could solve all sorts of mysteries. Not because he had any special detecting skills but because by noticing everything that didn’t belong or that was out of place, he got all the clues he needed.

My aim is not to train detectives but instead to teach my grandkids to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

So many children walk around in their own little dream world, not even noticing what’s around them. They’re the ones that child predators pick. And in the future, they might be the ones who don’t survive.

So on with the game. After the kiddos arrive, we sit in the living room (or any room you’ve picked) for a while and then I get their granddad to take them on a little nature walk. While they’re gone, I prepare the room by removing objects and rearranging things. For the youngest children I make it obvious, like an overturned chair or a book or vase in the middle of the floor.

For the older ones I make a few much more insignificant changes, like a book turned upside down in a bookcase or I bring something from another room. Sometimes I remove a small item.

When I’m ready I call the children in, one-by one, beginning with the youngest. I ask them to point out everything that has changed since they were just in the room.

When they get a right answer, praise them but NEVER make fun or belittle them if they have a hard time with this. Instead, let it be a wake-up call for you to work with them on this until they improve.

And improve they will! They’ll begin to get so good at it that you’ll have a harder and harder time preparing the room.

Always start with the youngest and warn them not to say a word to the older ones waiting their turn. At the end announce the one who noticed the most changes. (I still believe competition is important to motivate kids.)

If one or two are much older, let them occasionally rearrange the room with you for the younger kids.

To include memory training, change up the game a little. Have all of them come in at the same time, take a look around but not mention or point at what’s wrong. Then I take them to another room, usually the kitchen and we don’t discuss what we saw but discuss something completely unrelated. Set a timer for 5 minutes to begin but gradually wait longer and longer.

When time is up, have each one tell you privately what they remember that was wrong. Once again, congratulate the winner to give the others an incentive to concentrate harder the next time.

If your grandkids are older, you can make more subtle changes that challenge them to analyze what they’re seeing. For even more fun, play this game at a holiday dinner and include the parents. They’ll be amazed at their children’s alertness skills.

I like to show them movies or read them stories where noticing details made all the difference. One favorite of my grandkids is the old Disney movie, “That Darn Cat.”

From time to time I point out that being alert can save lives, their own and others.

Now go have some fun with your grandkids at the same time you’re training them to be alert.

Next time we’ll talk about going to other environments, like a park or a mall.

These skills will help them with their school work, make them super observant, and make good witnesses if they’re ever unfortunate enough to observe a crime.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ve tried this or if you have suggestions on ways to have more fun while you teach valuable lessons to your kids and/or grandkids.

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