As an educator with a pretty extensive grab bag of sensory activities, I notice that certain ones just rise to the top. These very special activities become favorites because they engage people so reliably, enjoying wide appeal across seemingly any age or type of gathering – from a winter backpacking trip to a forest kindergarten, from a middle school classroom to a family dinner.
Something about engaging with our sensory awareness in relation to the human beings in front of us, about taking time to notice and appreciate each other’s style while making a joke of it, just connects for people. Playing shapeshifter feels a little like planning a practical joke where we’re all in on the joke! It can easily be adjusted in the moment to cater to any group. A few rounds of playing will quickly demonstrate how this treasure of an activity can be creatively adapted. Enjoy!
And don’t forget to let the little people join in as the ‘shapeshifter’, even if they need a little help to do so. There’s nothing in this world I know of which quite compares to the delight of a child who has been offered the opportunity to play tricks on their caregivers!
Mai grew up in southwestern CT, where she spent her days clamoring across barnacled boulders lining Long Island Sound, and capturing crickets to feed to her leopard frogs. She studied acting at Emerson College and graduated from Hampshire College with a self-designed B.A. in ecosystem mimicry agriculture and community circus theater. Alisha Mai has run nature-immersion programming since 2008, with Vermont Wilderness School, the Institute for Natural Learning, Wolftree Programs, White Pine Programs, and most recently, Wild Earth. Mai enjoys working with girls and teens, and incorporating physical play into her programs. She draws upon her background in theater and circus to create zany and magical experiences in nature. Alisha Mai is certified in Wildlife Track and Sign (Level II) through CyberTracker, and is a Wilderness First Responder. She teaches vinyasa yoga and aerial silks, and studies at Circus Warehouse in Queens. More about Alisha Mai's work.