Mother May I

Hanging shamrocks

“May I…hang a shamrock on the St. Patrick’s Day tree?” “Yes! You may!”

Activity 58 – Have fun with another childhood oldie “Mother, or Father, May I.”

Age Range – Preschool and Up

Areas Being Developed – Motor Skills and Following Directions

Stand opposite each other and play this directions game. Take turns being “Mother or Father.” You can start. Give your child interesting and fun movements to do. After hearing a direction, give him or her the opportunity to say, “May I?” After that the “Mother or Father” has the option to say, “Yes, you may” or “No, you may not.” If the caller says, “Yes, you may,” the player can go ahead and do the action. If the caller says, “No, you may not,” he or she can give another direction.

With just the two of you, you can keep rotating parts and continue to play as long as you both want. When play involves more people, the strategy changes a little. The caller starts out far away from the players, and eventually the players get closer until one of them is able to tag the “Mother” or the “Father.” The one who tags first then becomes the caller.


Besides being excellent for training in following directions, you can use this game to practice any areas of yours or your child’s interests. One child might benefit from being asked to move in different ways, and others might get more out of directions that require precision and concentration. Still others, including groups of children, might just love participating in this kind of hands-on interactive play.

Emergent Literacy!

This game is directly related to the building of language skills. It focuses directly on the ability to both understand well and speak clearly. With this activity, you have an example of ‘play-and-learn” at its best!


  1. I always love to read your practical ideas and tips. You always make parenting sound so easy and fun. We know it’s not but you have a graceful way of presenting it. Thank you.

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