Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hot Lava

If you've been anywhere near an elementary school playground in the last fifteen years, chances are you've heard of "hot lava".  It's a game usually played on the playground at recess, however, it can also be played indoors at home.  I remember hearing my daughter talking about it and watching her jump from couch to chair in our family room with her BFF when she was younger.  The rules of the game are simple.  You pretend there is a boiling stream of hot lava flowing on the ground (or floor) and you have to stay above it by climbing across monkey bars, jumping over grassy areas, or leaping from furniture in your home. You are required to stay in constant motion.  As far as I know, if you do happen to touch your toe to the ground or (gasp!) fall into the pit of hot lava, nothing really happens.   You simply feign that you've fallen into hot lava by yelling, "Hot! Hot! Owwww!" and climb back out of it.  

I remember the first time I heard my daughter asking her friend one time at our house if she wanted to play 'Hot Lava'.  They skipped off outside to her play structure and stopped just for a moment to declare that "it" was coming.  [It = stream of extremely hot lava that apparently can appear at any time and out of nowhere.]  I watched fascinated from the back deck as they energetically escaped the invisible lava, laughing, climbing and just plain having fun. 

Of course, before long, I asked some of my stupid-mom-questions.  "Where does the lava come from anyway?  Don't you have to have a volcano? Why is it lava on the ground and not something else?"

Without skipping a beat they rolled their eyes at me and continued their play.  If I was too stupid to not be able to see that there was hot lava on the ground and they had to escape from it, there was no need for them to stop to explain.  They were gonna save themselves.

Whenever I have recess duty at school, I make a point of stopping near the play structures to listen in for the "Hot Lava" game.   Usually there are several students playing, but if not, I'll suggest to the nearest kid, "How about a game of 'hot lava"?  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but just saying it makes me laugh.

If you think I've been blogging way too much and now I've stepped over into Crazytown, google "hot lava".   Wikipedia even makes mention of it.  And if Wikipedia includes it, hey, it's real people. 

Wikipedia: Hot Lava Game

So, what does hot lava have to do with teaching you ask?  And positivity?  

Well, as a teacher, in an elementary school, at this point in time, with everything going on in the educational world, I sometimes feel like I'm in my own personal game of "Hot Lava".  I'm constantly moving to try to stay just a step ahead of imminent disaster.  I'm always "climbing" from one thing to another.  Like a player in the game, I have to be both agile and alert.  But also like the game, my job is fun, creative, playful, and of course, positive. 

One of these days, I just might see if you're all ready for a game.  If you hear me yelling, "Hot Lava!" in the hallway, or over the PA, for God's sake, climb up on top of your desk and watch the floor.  And don't forget to keep moving.  


  1. Hahahaha! Yes, that game is a good one and kids still play it all the time. I too wonder why it's lava and not flood water, or why it can't be something else entirely! Love your posts, Dianne!

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