Rudyard Kipling’s 1901 novel “Kim” is the story of the orphan son of an Irish soldier in India. Kim, plays a game of observation and memory as a part of his training as a spy.
Kim’s teacher, Mr. Lurgan, runs a jewel shop as a cover for his real work as a British secret agent. Lurgan places jewels on a copper tray and says:
“Look on them as long as thou wilt, stranger. Count and, if need be, handle. One look is enough for me. When thou hast counted and handled and art sure that thou canst remember them all, I cover them with this paper, and thou must tell over the tally.”
Lurgan and Kim play the game many times with different objects.
Kim could remember only a few objects at first, ultimately he was able, at a glance, to remember not only the objects, but many details about them.
The game is played with up to 24 objects placed on a table and covered with a cloth. The cloth is removed for exactly one minute as players observe and the cloth is replaced. Players can either write down what they have seen, or be asked questions about the objects.
Kim’s game can be used to aid in identifying and memorizing trees, tracks, first aid skills etc. Played as described above it can work quite well, but there are a number of variations that can be used, the Scouts themselves will come up with interesting ideas.
This variation is useful when Scouts need to learn how to identify a number of different objects (like animal tracks, leaves, etc.) and or characteristics about the objects (a red oak leaf has pointed lobes, a cat track has four toes, etc.)
- Objects are displayed with an equal number of blank name tags.
- The instructor asks if scouts can identify any of the objects using the Scout handbook or other references.
- Once all the specimens are identified and the names written on name tags the objects and tags are covered with a cloth.
- Scouts are asked to name all the specimens they identified while they remain covered.
- The specimens are revealed for one minute and recovered.
- Scouts individually write down all the names of specimens they observed.
- Each Scout in turn reads his list.
- The name tags are then removed and the specimens are revealed again for one minute.
- Once again the Scouts are asked to list what they see after the specimens are covered.
Further variations can be introduced by having Scouts draw outlines of the objects list one or two visual clues to each specimen (size, shape, characteristics).
Shadow Kim’s Game.
Hang a sheet from a bar, and shine a light towards the sheet from behind, the Scouts stand at the front so objects held between the sheet and the light appear as shadows on the sheet.
Two Hands Kim’s Game.
Scouts hold an object in each hand, standing in a circle they show the objects thirty seconds, then they hold the objects behind their backs out of sight They can then be asked to locate a given object from memory by telling who was holding it.
Long Distance Kim’s Game
Instead of a tray or tabletop at close quarters the objects are viewed at some distance (the distance proportional to the size of the objects). This can be extended to a hundred yards and the objects can be displayed against a sheet or other background.
Vertical Kim’s Game
Hang the objects in a tree or from the ceiling.
Kim on the trail
Distribute the objects along a trail or path. Scouts are given a fixed amount of time to cover the trail and find and remember the objects.
Each object is tossed either from one instructor to another or from an instructor to a Scout and then tossed back. Everyone has the opportunity to observe as this is going on and then to write down what they remember.
Passing Kim’s Game
Objects are passed around a circle of players very quickly (a time limit for getting the articles around is set).
Scouts are blindfolded and objects are handed from Scout to Scout who have a set period of time to observe each by the sense of touch alone.
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