Why is I Spy such a popular game for kids?
It’s simple. There are no complicated rules. And, for a short period of time, the person giving the clue is in control. That’s a strong motivator for a kid.
Just in case you’ve never played, here are the rules. A round of I Spy always begins with this phrase:
I spy with my little something that begins with the letter…
And then you choose the first letter of an object that everyone can see. When my kids were really little and they couldn’t yet spell, we would choose a color instead.
The person or people doing the guessing then look around and notice their surroundings. Anything could be the answer, from the fork on the table, to a farm outside the window, to the falafel on the plate, to the furniture that fills the dining room (can you tell I’m working with the letter F?). The trick for an adult playing the game is to choose a word that is challenging but not crazy hard. It’s no fun for a kid to never be able to guess a clue. But for the kid? It’s fun to catch an adult out. My nephew plays well enough that I don’t give him a break… I make honest to goodness guesses and in our version we are allowed to ask for clues. When I really give up, he knows it’s real and I can see his face shine with happiness because he has managed to outsmart me.
The person who guesses correctly gets to give the next clue!
I Spy is a window into the soul of a child. You get to learn what they notice and how they think. You get to see their minds grow as their targets gets harder to guess and their clues to help you become more sophisticated. They get to decide if they want to give you an ‘easy’ letter or a ‘hard’ one. And kids learn from watching you play… are you easily frustrated and give up? That’s a lesson for them. Do you give only easy clues? Then maybe you don’t really want to play. Do you give only hard ones? Then maybe winning is more important than the game itself.
So, how about it? Are you up for another round of I Spy?