It is well known that children love games! Most children are not afraid to use their imagination or flex out their creativity skills, so that when it comes to playing, there is a broad range of options. Children can play games with their toys, but there are also some really cool games they can play that are not toy-specific. This chapter will list some of the best games that children can play either by themselves, with an adult or with other children. If your child has an upcoming birthday party, some of these games are sure to be hits.
Little kids love to build things and it is a great way to start encouraging creativity at a young age. You don’t need to have building blocks to build. Instead, you can use anything around the house. My friend’s grandparents used to keep pieces of scrap wood around the house in the winter time and she would always build towers and forts with that wood until it was burned. Sometimes she even built things by stacking old VHS tapes together. You can build stuff with virtually anything. Popular items include playing cards, Popsicle sticks, pillows, boxes, empty coffee containers or anything you can think of!
Magic Cup Game
You’ve probably seen this age-old game before. Take 3 plastic cups and put a small item underneath one, preferably something like a coin or a ball. Then shuffle the cups around and have your kid try to guess which one has the item inside. You can try to switch it up by sneakily switching the item and the cups when your kid starts to catch on. You can also help them learn the game so they can teach their friends.
Make Your Own Puzzle
This is another really fun and time-tested game. If your child likes to draw, allow him or her to draw a picture and then cut it up into puzzle pieces that can be put back together. You can cut it into easy square shapes or you can get really challenging and cut it into crazy shapes. If your child is not into drawing, you can cut up pictures from magazines or newspapers and create a puzzle that way.
This really fun game can be played solo or with a group of friends. Pick some fun music. The rule is that everyone must stop dancing when the music is turned off, no matter what position they are in. If a player moves or falls out of the position, he’s out. Have a fun playlist of the most popular kids songs on hand when playing this game. It’s also a great way to tire kids out. This game can also be played with chairs. So when the music stops, the last person to get a seat is eliminated. Each round you would take one chair away until there was only one left, and whoever got that last seat when the music stops is the winner. This was one of my favorite games growing up.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a classic game that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy. This game can be played indoors or outdoors. Pick one player to be “it” and have them count a number between 10 and 30 while the rest of the players run off and hide. Whoever is found last is the next person to be “it.” For a fun variation, try playing in the dark.
Have a Treasure Hunt
What can be more fun and challenging than searching for ‘buried treasure?’ For this game, hide an object or set of objects somewhere around the house and leave clues. You can start out by leaving the clues in obvious places and then have each clue lead your child to the next hidden spot. You can also draw a map and try to have your child find the treasure that way.
This fun game is perfect for rainy days and is a cost-effective way to have some fun. Line up some empty water bottles in an open area and then find a medium-sized, light plastic ball. Take turns trying to knock down the water bottles like they are bowling pins. If you need a foul line, lay down some masking tape, it’s really easy to get off the floor when you’re done.
Classic Hot Potato
For this game, put on some more fun music and pass around an object. It can be something small and light, like a bean bag or a small ball. The rules are that whoever has the object in their hand when the music is turned off is “out.” Whoever makes it to the end of the song without being caught with the “potato” is the winner.
Make Your Own Bubbles
Instead of buying bubbles from the store, why not make your own? You will need some dish soap and water. On a plate, pour out a dime-size drop of soap and add in some water until it starts to get foamy. Allow your child to place a straw in the mixture and gently blow until bubbles start to form. For some competitive fun, see who can blow the biggest or the most bubbles.
“Simon Says” is another classic game that kids love. Pick one child to be “Simon.” That child will then call out commands starting with the words “Simon says.” For example, one command might be “Simon says touch your nose.” If “Simon” does not start the command with those two key words and a player does the command anyway, he or she is out.
Coloring and Drawing
Coloring and/or drawing is an activity that kids love. It stimulates creativity and can keep your children entertained for hours on end. After providing some construction paper, crayons, markers and maybe even some paints, you can decide how to go about it. You can let your kid’s free draw or you can give them an “assignment” such as telling them to draw a certain scene or picture. One really cool challenge that I’ve seen is to assign your child a letter and then have them draw a picture while incorporating that letter into it.
If you have a staircase in your house then you can try playing “step school.” The bottom step is considered the lowest grade possible (pre-k or daycare or something along those lines) and the highest step is the highest education possible (high school or college if you have enough steps). Everyone starts at the bottom step and an older child or adult serves as the teacher. The teacher asks each person a question and the difficulty is based on what step that player is on. So if a player is on the lowest step, the teacher would ask an easy question such as “What is 1+1?” and then asks harder and harder questions. Whoever can make it to the top step first wins.
If you have access to a pool, your kids will love this fun game. Pick one child to be “it.” He or she will close their eyes and count to 10. After 10, that child yells out “Marco” while keeping his or her eyes closed. The other players yell out “Polo” while swimming away. The child who is “Marco” must try and tag the other players while trying to find them based off the sound of their voice. The last person to be caught can be the next “it.”
This simple game only requires a pencil and paper and is a great way to learn words. One child secretly picks a word and then writes out spaces for each letter in that word. The other child has to guess the word by randomly picking letters. If the child picks a letter and he or she guesses incorrectly, the other child will draw a body part on the hangman. If the child runs out of guesses and the hangman is complete, he or she loses. This game can go on for quite a while, depending on how detailed you get. Some kids like to keep it basic by ending with a head, body, two arms and two legs but you can keep the game going by adding fingers, hair, shoes, clothes etc.
In this fun acting game, one child picks a word or phrase and then acts out with gestures so that the other kids can guess what the word or phrase is. The rules are that you cannot talk or give out verbal cues; you must only use body language and gestures. This is a fun one for adults as well.
This education word search game can be fun for the whole family. The object of the game is to have everyone go around the house looking for objects that start with letters of the alphabet. To make sure that the house doesn’t get destroyed, you can limit letters to one at a time. For example, if you pick the letter C, objects that qualify could be cereal, cup, coffee, cap, etc.
Green Light/Red Light
This game is fun and easy because it can literally be played almost anywhere. One child serves as the traffic light and the other children line up and move between two invisible points. The child who is pretending to be the traffic light will say “red light” or “green light.” When he or she says “green light” the other children will walk or run forward. When the child says “red light” everyone must stop immediately. It is a fun, safe game that can tire your children out quickly.
Tic Tac Toe
This fun, challenging game only requires a piece of paper and a pencil. On a blank sheet of paper, draw a 3×3 grid that has boxes moving up, down and through the grid. Each child takes turns drawing an “x” or “o” in each box. If a child can link 3 of the same symbols in a row, no matter what direction, he or she can draw a line through it and yell “tic tac toe!” For a fun variation, you can switch up the symbols to be anything you want. Fun ideas include smiley faces, animals, shapes, etc.
Heads or Tails
This simple game just requires a coin. Quarters usually work best. One adult should serve as the referee. Each child picks a side that her or she thinks the coin will land on when tossed up, either heads or tails. The adult will then flick the coin up and catch it in her palm. Whoever can get 10 guesses right first wins the game.
For a fun and enjoyable game, pick up some marshmallows and thin pretzel sticks. Allow your child to make things out of the marshmallows and pretzels, such as soldiers, houses, buildings or anything else. After your kids are done playing with their creations, they can eat them. Another fun twist is to hold challenges to see who can build the biggest object or who can blow the marshmallows the furthest.
This fun game is good for when kids are together in groups of at least 5. The first child or adult thinks of a phrase and then whispers it into the next player’s ear. That player then whispers it into the next player’s ear. The last player repeats the phrase out loud very loudly to see if it matches the original phrase. Sometimes the phrase gets so mashed up that the end result can be really funny. This was another fun game that I played as a child, and a few times I took great pleasure in changing the phrase purposely causing the whole class laugh at the end.
I spy is a really good game to play inside or outside, but it is especially handy when it’s raining outside and there’s nothing else to do. Players take turns looking around the room and secretly picking an object. Then that player says “I spy something that starts with the letter…” and says whatever letter the object starts with. The other players take turns trying to guess what the object is. Whoever guesses correctly gets to be the next spy.
This game requires three players. Two players stand at opposite ends and the third player stands in the middle. The two players on the end take turns throwing a ball back and forth and the player in the middle has to try to get the ball from the other two. If the middle player gets the ball, whoever threw it has to switch out into the middle. Another popular name for this game is monkey in the middle. This is an extremely fun game and a great way for kids to get exercise and expend some energy.
This is a fun game to play when parents need some quiet time. All players sit scattered around a room. The rules are that the players must pass a ball around to each other but nobody can make any noise. If anyone makes noise, that person is out. Additionally, if a player misses the ball when it is thrown to them, that player is out too. It is often really fun when it gets down to the last two players who are trying really hard to get each other out.
This game is similar to I spy but has a little twist. One player secretly picks an object in the room or somewhere else in the house. The other player looks around the room for the object and the first player says “hot” whenever the second player gets closer to the object and “cold” whenever he or she strays from the object. Alternatively, the first player can sing a song and go up and down in volume depending on whether the second player is closer to finding the object.