Games Tips

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group games


This game takes a little preparation but the kids love it. You will need a different color sheet of construction paper for each child. For a large group divide into groups and have elimination races. Out of each sheet cut 9 small squares and 1 large pig. Mark off an 8 step race track using pencils, napkins or whatever. Line the children up shoulder to shoulder behind the first step. Give each child a colored pig. Shuffle your little colored squares and draw them out one at a time. Whoever has the matching color pig takes a step when his color is drawn. The first one to complete all 8 steps wins.



To play, one person is chosen to be the traffic cop.
All the players stand on the starting line and the traffic cop has his back to the rest of the players.
When he says "green light," players try to run to the finish line.
When the traffic cop says "red light," he turns around and players have to stop in their tracks.
If the traffic cop catches a player moving, he sends them back to the starting line.
First person to cross the finish line wins and becomes the new traffic cop.

group games


This is an oldie but a goodie! Arrange the children in a circle, making sure you have lots of room. Designate the birthday child to be "it". She walks around the outside of the circle, touching each child and saying "duck" when she touches a child and changes the word to "goose", that child must get up and run around the circle trying to catch "it". If the "goose" doesn't touch "it" before "it" sits in his place in the circle, the "goose" becomes "it".

money game


The object of this game is to get all the nickels you can. You will need a handful of nickel and six pennies for each player and one die. Explain that 5 pennies make a nickel. It may be necessary to draw a picture of this concept and place it in front of your child. (A rubbing of each coin works well, rub the pennies in brown and the nickel in silver.) Put an equal sign between the two and explain that this means "the same as" or "equal to". To play role the die and take the same number of pennies as the number you roll. Each player counts his pennies as they places them on his money picture. When a player has enough pennies to trade for a nickel he must trade his pennies in that turn. Make the game more challenging by adding dimes, then quarters and your child understands each coin's value.

group games


This game will develop your child's large muscle groups. Have your child put her hands in front of her face like an elephant trunk. Start with a simple elephant walk. Then go through the elephant's day. Stretch and pick leaves from high in the trees or grass from down low on the ground. Try a great big elephant hug! Your imagination is the only limit to this fun game, try other animals like a giraffe or hippopotamus!

relay race


Set up your relay race in the backyard. For example, first they have to hop like a bunny across the yard, where there is a skipping rope. Then they have to skip five times with the rope. Then they must jump over the three sand pails set a few feet apart, and hop back to the start. Use your imagination, keeping in mind the children's ages and abilities.



Turn a closet or bathroom into a time machine. Have the child go in, and when he/she comes out have a whole new "world" set up that's a different place in time. You can use other toys for props. For example, if your child has dinosaurs, you can pretend to go back to the time of the dinosaurs. If your child has a lot of space/alien stuff, you can pretend to go into the future. If your child has cowboy stuff, you can go back to the days of the Wild West. For added fun, you can pretend that the time machine is "broken" and there is no way to get back to "the present." See how your child tries to "fix" the time machine.
As you can see, with a little imagination, there are many games and activities you can play with your child that don't involve expensive toys. Most kids are thrilled to have some time with Mom or Dad anyway, and will find these games to be a pleasant change from the usual video or board game. If you use the toys your child already has for some of these games, they will also see those toys in a new light, and the toys will become interesting again. How elaborate you make these games depends only on how much time you have and how much clean up you want to have afterwards!
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler



First you pick someone to be it (the person to seek) then he/she turns around and counts with their eyes closed at the "base" while the rest of the people hide. Then "It" says "Ready or Not, Here I Come" and rushes to find everyone. Then the people try to get to base without getting tagged or else they are "It".
If the person who is "It" doesn't get someone in three tries he gets to pick a kid to be it!



The simplicity of this game is its charm. Since everyone has the same handicap-eyes closed-they can be competitive with the likes of Tiger Woods.
How to play:
Step 1: Create a "fairway" on a standard-sized piece of paper-a shape that is the boundary for the tee-off area and hole. Draw a small circle (the hole) at one end of the fairway.
Step 2: Place the marker point down at the tee (the other end of the fairway), close your eyes and try to draw a line to the hole. Lift your marker and open your eyes. That's your "shot." (If you strayed outside the boundaries, add a stroke.) The next player then tees off on the same sheet.
Step 3: As with actual golf, the player farthest from the hole shoots first, and your score is the number of shots it takes you to reach the cup. Play nine holes or even 18 like the pros.



This is fun for all ages - just so they are old enough to write. Prepare a tray with about 20 objects on it. Give each child a pencil and paper. Hold the tray up so they can see it for about 30 seconds or so then remove the tray from sight. See who can name the most objects they saw in a 3-5 minute period depending on the age.



A slight variation to the game of dress-up, this will be as fun as Halloween for your child. Let your child dress up as something, depending on what you have available--a cowboy/girl, prince/princess, sports hero, wizard, etc. Pretend like he/she is going to be in a movie scene. Turn your bathroom into a "dressing room" (you can even tape a paper star to the door with your child's name on it). After the outfit is on, you can either film your child with a camcorder (if you have one) or take pictures with your camera. You can pretend to be the director and give your child a scene to act out. Most kids are hams and love to act when given the chance. Ask your child for his/her autograph.
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler

group games


Supplies: Tape to mark distance lines
On your mark the children bend over and grasp their ankles. The first one to waddle to the finish line, without letting go of their ankles, wins.

math activity


Collect as many different types of flower, vegetable, fruit and grass seeds as you can (varying the color, size, shape, etc.) spread the seeds out on a tray and give each child an egg carton. Ask him to sort the seeds into the carton. Vary this activity for an older child by taping a picture of grass/flowers/plants in the bottom of each cup and help your child match the seeds to the picture.

guessing games


Cut rectangular "cards" out of construction paper. Tthen cut slightly smaller rectangles from wrapping paper (two of a kind from each). Glue these smaller squares to the construction paper squares . Laminate and play Memory/Concentration. You can also use pairs of Holiday stickers to make the game seasonal.

group games


Gather all the children in a circle, preferably outside. Show the children how to do a kangaroo jump (arms close to chest, palms facing downward, knees slightly bent). Tell the children that they are going to play kangaroo tag and explain that the mother kangaroo (the child who is "it") is searching for her babies (baby kangaroos are called Joeys). When the mother kangaroo tags a Joey, that child then becomes the mother and tries to tag someone else. Stress the important rules: kangaroos jump, but do not run, tagging should be done in a gentle way and everyone must stop when you tell them to stop.



This game can be played either with the whole group doing actions of the song or begin with one child in the center, s/he chooses a partner, then those children will each choose a new partner; continuing until all the children are in the circle.
Jump, Jump, Jump Jim Joe
Jump, Jump, Jump Jim Joe
Now nod your head and shake head and tap, tap, tap your toe.
Turn around and around and around you go
And now you Jump Jim Joe!

relay race


Need two buckets per team and one large sponge. One bucket will have water placed near the team the other empty off a distance.
Players must soak the sponge and carry it to the empty bucket and wring it out (filling up the empty bucket) then take it back to the next in line. Continue until all the water has been removed from the first bucket!



There are games for everybody, games to suit our every mood. Silly games, thinking games, games of chance, games of skill, word games, memory games, matching games, trivia games, group games and solitary games...and each has its own merits.

Good games help to impart the skills of co-operation, competition, strategy and sportsmanship. They are useful as a pleasurable activity to exercise matching colors and shapes, counting spaces, memory, reasoning and planning ahead, as well as attention to detail. They also help a child understand that rules are necessary and helpful. Many games encourage group play and provide experience in winning and losing.

A growing number of co-operative games are available on the market. Parents may wish to consider these games for variety or as an alternative especially suitable for young players just learning to enjoy game play. You can adapt the rules of many games for preschoolers to a co-operative approach.

When selecting a game for a child or group of children, remember that it should be fun to play, yet challenging enough to be intriguing for the intended age group. Rules should be clear and easy to follow. Don't be afraid to establish house rules to accommodate younger or less skilled players, or shorter playing time. The game board should be durable and uncluttered, and the playing pieces should be of a suitable size and weight. Fad games based on the latest popular licensed characters rarely have any lasting interest. On the other hand, a well-conceived game may become a classic and be enjoyed for years to come.

group games


Start off with a tennis ball. Throw the ball until someone drops it. Whoever threw the ball tells the person who dropped the ball to get down on one knee. Next time- 2 knees, next time 2 knees and 1 elbow, then your out. You must stay in that position in order to catch or throw the ball. Very funny activity, and they get some exercise too!



Recommended for ages 5 to 10.
Game can be made easier or more difficult for different age groups.

Plastic Embroidery hoops
Large plastic lids - (cut out the center, leaving just the outside ring)
Number of small items (small enough to fit easily in the circle hoop). (You could even use small wrapped or unwrapped prizes (box of crayons, small Lego kit, candy or treats).

Find a starting point for the children to stand. (Distance will depend on the age of the children). Items can either be scattered or in a straight line.
Give each child 2-3 rings to toss.

group games


Kids will love the challenge of this game and the added bonus of their efforts...a scrumptious apple pie.

Potato peelers
Paring knives
How to play:
Using the peeler (kids) or knife (adults only), see who can produce the longest unbroken strip of apple skin. For an added challenge, see who can produce one that is both the narrowest and longest. Children must have adult supervision in this activity, due to the knives.

relay race


This game is really fun to make a movie of and watch later. Especially if your projector or VCR allows you to run the movie backwards. Divide players into two equal teams. For each team have a suitcase or box containing a large shirt, shorts, boots and hat. In turn each player must put on old clothes and run to a certain point where they take the old clothes off and put them back in box, then run back to start where the next player repeats the process etc. until one team finishes and wins.



Recommended for ages 8 and up. (although younger children, ages 4 - 6 can play with only 5 - 10 items).
Have the children test their memory skills on this game.
Give each child a piece of paper and a pencil.
Bring out a large covered (use a towel) tray with 15-20 items on it.
Remove the cover, and let the children view the items on the tray for 1 minute.
Then take the tray out of the room.
Give everyone 5 minutes to write as much as they can remember from the tray.
The child with the most correct items on their list wins.

Ideas of items to use: candle, bow, ribbon, dice, spoon, invitation, pencil, ruler, Band-Aid, pen, balloon, marker, paper clip, rubber band, stapler, TV remote, calculator, monopoly piece, paper airplane, any small toys ...
You can use items from the theme of the party:
Summer - sunglasses, lotion, goggles.
Beanie Baby Party - different beanie baby toys.
Sports - different sports cards with well-known players.



In this game, kids sit down in a circle facing each other. One person is "it" and walks around the circle. As they walk around, they tap people's heads and say whether they are a "duck" or a "goose".
Once someone is the "goose" they get up and try to chase "it" around the circle. The goal is to tap that person before they are able sit down in the "goose's" spot. If the goose is not able to do this, they become "it" for the next round and play continues. If they do tap the "it" person, the person tagged has to sit in the center of the circle. Then the goose become it for the next round. The person in the middle can't leave until another person is tagged and they are replaced.

group games


All you need is an empty soda can!
How to play:
Step 1: While one player is "It" and tries to keep an empty soda can inside a large chalk circle, everyone else tries to free the soda can by sneaking up and kicking the can out of the circle.
Step 2: To start the game, "It" sets the can in the center of the circle and, standing nearby with her eyes closed, counts to 100 (or less if not a quick counter) while the other players hide. When she is finished counting, she tries to search out the others and tag them.
Step 3: Whomever she touches must stop in place and remain there. If a player is able to reach the circle and kick out the can without being tagged, he shouts "C!"
The can is then reset in the circle, and the game begins again with everyone hiding. The second time a player boots the can out of the circle, he yells "A!" The first player to kick the can for the third time earns the letter N and yells out "C-A-N" to win the game. Then, a new "It" is named.
Step 4: In order for "It" to win the game, she must succeed in tagging all of the players before anyone makes it to the circle and kicks the can three times.



How To Play: Have children sit in a circle. One child is "it" and hops around the circle tapping each child on the head and saying, "bunny, bunny, bunny..." until he/she finally says, "RABBIT". Both children hop around the circle trying to reach the vacated spot first.

water games


How about a game of piñata but instead of using candy - use water! Fill a medium-size garbage bag with 1-2 gallons of water (10 gallon bag works well). Play just like you were hitting a piñata. The winner is the child who manages to break the bag and unleash the "tidal wave".



Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Chairs (try small chair pads, hand towels, place mats, or paper bags).
Tape player or radio.

Put out enough chairs for all the players less one. The children dance and move about as the music plays, and when it stops they scramble for a chair. After each round, the player that did not find a chair must sit out.
A chair is removed until finally there is just one left.



Two players lay down on the floor or the ground head-to-toe and line up their hips. They then raise their inside leg straight up and then lower it three times, saying "1,2,3!" After the "3!" the combatants link their legs together at the knee and try to flip the other "wrestler" over into a forced backwards somersault.

group games


Draw a simple map of your house. Hide a "treasure" somewhere in your house, something like a snack, or maybe a treasured toy. Explain the map to your child. Tell them where each room is. Next say there is a hidden treasure in the house, and the map is going to help them find it. Draw an X on the map where you have hidden the treasure. Help your child look for the treasure.



The stuffed animals are out again, this time as farm animals. Dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, sheep…anything that's a farm animal can be used for this game. Set up the "farm" in a room and create separate areas, such as the horse barn, the grazing field, etc. You can play "what does the ____ say?" with a younger child, teaching them the various sounds that farm animals make. If you have some of those plastic Easter eggs lying around, you can pretend to gather eggs from the chickens!
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler



What do you get when you mix a monkey and a sheep? Baaaaboon!
What did the 2 oceans have to say to each other when they met? Nothing they just waved!
What did the pencil say to the cowboy? Draw partner!
What Do You Call A Boomerang That Doesn't Work? A Stick.
What Do You Call Cheese That Isn't Yours? Nacho Cheese.
What Do You Get From A Pampered Cow? Spoiled Milk.
What do you get when you cross A Snowman with A Vampire? Frostbite.
What Lies At the Bottom Of The Ocean And Twitches? A Nervous Wreck.
Where do you find a dog with no legs? Right where you left him.
Why Do Gorillas Have Big Nostrils? Because They Have Big Fingers.
What Kind Of Coffee Was Served On The Titanic? Sanka.
Why Did Pilgrims' Pants Always Fall Down? Because they wore their belt buckle on their hat.



Recommended for ages 6 and up.

5 Buckets/bowls (can become smaller and the prize more valuable as they get farther away).
Bean bag (A small sock, partially filled with dry beans and tied with a rubber band can be used for the bean bag).

Set up 5 buckets in a straight line, one behind the other, about 2-ft. apart.
Put different candies or other small treats in each of the buckets.
Start the line about two feet in front of the first bucket and have a player toss a beanbag into the first bucket.
If he/she misses they go to the end of the line.
If they make the bucket, they select a prize from the bucket and try for the next one and so on.



Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Table spoons
Hard-boiled or plastic Easter Eggs (fill with a treat for after the game). You could use cotton balls.

The goal here is to run from a starting point to a finishing line with an egg on a spoon
The distance will depend on the age of the children, and the space available.
If the egg is dropped, the child has to start again from the beginning.
You can make this game either a competition between teams, an individual timed race on an obstacle course, or just see who can make it the farthest without dropping their egg.



In this game, one person plays the "stop light" and the rest try to touch him/her.

At the start, all the children form a line about 15 feet away from the stop light.

The stop light faces away from the line of kids and says "green light". At this point the kids are allowed to move towards the stoplight.

At any point, the stop light may say "red light!" and turn around. If any of the kids are caught moving after this has occurred, they are out.

Play resumes when the stop light turns back around and says "green light".

The stop light wins if all the kids are out before anyone is able to touch him/her.

Otherwise, the first player to touch the stop light wins the game and earns the right to be "stop light" for the next game.

group games


Inside or out relay races are a hit. Easily brought together with simple household items a cottonball race is fast, fun and not messy at all. Use a tablespoon (or large serving spoon for a little one),and a cottonball (although you can vary this activity by using a grape, or a bead.) Use a hallway or a "loop" around the kitchen table. Remember that they are gaining skills in balance, judgement and if they're squealing with delight, they're doing it right!

hide and seek


Have different types of nuts (in shells) in a pile in front of you. Ask several children to the pile and find all the nuts that look the same. Sort them in pie pans. Once all of the nuts are sorted, have the children carry the pie pans to the water table for further sorting fun.



The Worm Squirm... Great for a pajama or bug theme party! This is just an obstacle course made of pillows, boxes etc, the trick is this... you have to squirm like a worm on your belly to complete the obstacle course.



Limbo is an African game that tests your strength and flexibility so make sure to stretch before starting. You need a broomstick, or any other long stick, to play. Two players hold the limbo stick while the other players take turns going under it. (It might be easier for players if they lean the top half of their bodies backwards, going under the stick hips first.) After each player goes under once, the bar is then lowered about an inch. Players keep ducking under the limbo stick, as it gets lower and lower. If they touch it with any part of their body, they're out.
The last person left is the winner.



A favorite in school fairs!

Using the party's theme, select items to put in a jar. (jelly beans erasers, macaroni)
Count the items ahead of time so you know how many are in the jar.

Let the children guess how many items are in the jar. The closest guess wins.

Sample themes:
Pirate - Guess the gold coins in the chest.
Princess - Guess the pearls in the jewel box.
Dinosaur - Guess the eggs (jelly beans) in the jar.
Sports - Guess the baseball cards in the box.
Birthday - Guess the candles in the jar.

card trick


This trick requires a shuffled deck of cards. Take the deck, shuffle it well, and don't look at the cards as you do. I'm going to NOW make a MAGIC prediction. Somewhere in that deck you will find either a QUEEN beside a THREE or an ACE beside a FIVE!! Don't believe us? Try it and take a look. Remember that hearts, diamonds, spades & clubs do not matter. Just look for QUEEN beside 3 and ACE beside 5. Just in case it didn't happen, (I know it did), see if you have a 9 beside a 2. Find them? For some reason this happens the majority of the time!! VERY INTERESTING!



A relatively smooth playing field is required, usually on dirt. A small hole is made in the center of the playing

Each player antes up a marble, and they are randomly scattered around the playing field.

Each player uses a large marble (called a shooter) to try to knock the other marbles into the hole (much like

Players take turns shooting, and if a player knocks a marble into the hole with his/her shot, they get to keep the
marble they knocked in and shoot again.

One variation is called "agate up" in which all the marbles donated must be agates. Agates a rarer and thus
more valuable type of marble.

group games


Place five hoola hoops in a straight line. (You can use loops of rope or yarn if you don't have hoola hoops). Kids stand behind the starting line (before the first loop) and attempts to toss the bean bag into the first hoop (each child takes a turn and then goes to the back of the line). Each time they get to the front of the line again they then attempt to get the bean bag into the next hoop, then the third , the fourth and finally the fifth. When you miss the hoop you still stay in line, only next time you shoot for the same hoop. You have to finish each hoop in succession before you finish.

group games


There are as many versions of this fall classic as there are families who love to play it.
1 bandana or dish towel for each player
Four chairs
Step 1: Set up a goal line on each end of the field, using the chairs as markers. Equally divide the players into two teams and give each player a bandana to tuck into a back pocket or waistband (it must be visible and easy to grab). Flip a coin to determine which team will kick off first and agree upon a time limit for the game.
Step 2: After each team lines up across its goal line, one player begins the game by kicking the football as far down the field as possible. Someone on the receiving team must either catch or pick up the ball and then try to run it back to the opponent's goal line to score a touchdown. If an opposing player grabs the runner's bandana, then the runner is "tackled" and must stop.
After that, the receiving team has four tries, or downs, to get the ball to the goal line. (Before each down, you can huddle to discuss the next play-who will pass off, who will run and so on.)
Step 3: Each play begins with teams lining up at the position where the last team member with the ball was tackled. If a team fails to score a touchdown (worth six points) in four tries, it must turn the ball over to the other team, which begins play at the position where it gained possession of the ball. A team also can gain possession when the other team fumbles or if it intercepts a pass.

water activity


Like duck, duck, goose. But instead of touching the goose on the head, they wring out a wet sponge over their head.



(For youngsters that can swim the dog paddle)
Line up the kids on the edge of the pool. On go they jump in and all dog paddle to the other side, get out and bark 3 times. First one to finish wins.



Standing or sitting in a line, take turns flipping large bingo chips towards a wall. The closest chip to the wall without touching it is the champ. A variation is to try and flip the chips into a circle drawn on the ground or into a basket.



You will need a cupcake for each child.
Numbers taped to the floor
Basket to hold number call cards
How To Play: When the music starts the children begin to walk around the room stepping on each of the numbers as they go. When the music stops the children should step on the number closest to them. A number is pulled from the bag and the child standing on that number gets to choose a cupcake and sits out to eat their cupcake. That number is then removed from the floor and the bag. Continue until every child has a cupcake.



Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Any old clothes (2 sets) - men's button shirt, pants & belt, hard hat, tool belt, T-shirt, gown or dress, hat, heels make sure the 2 sets are the same. (As in the same # of pieces).

Divide the group into two teams.
Have a child from each team run from one point to another, and put on a set of clothes.
When dressed they run back and take it all off so the next child can put it on.
The team to finish first wins.

group games


The game Pin the Tail on the Donkey, can be fun any time of year. You can "feed the pumpkin (or ghost) at Halloween, by using a "cookie" instead of a tail and a Large drawing of a ghost or pumpkin with a big mouth. Try Pin the Egg In the Bunny Basket by using a picture of a bunny and a basket in place of the donkey and egg shapes the kids decorated themselves! How about Pin the waddle on the turkey? Or Pin the Heart on Cupid for Valentine's day…. Let your imagination run wild and you will have fun all year long.

A bonus tip here, Use double sided tape instead of pins, the game is safer (and so are your walls!)

group games


One person starts with the koosh ball. They name a person and throws the ball to them. That person must catch the ball and do the same thing. Everyone in the circle throws the ball to someone they have named. You can add more balls and try having 2 going at the same time.



Hide an object somewhere in your home so that your child does not know where it is. The object can be anything, but it would be fun to use play money or a container of costume jewelry to make it seem like something valuable. Then make your child the detective in charge of finding the stolen money or jewels or whatever. Leave clues around the house for the child to find, if your child can read, or give oral clues if your he/she can't. A variation on this game is to make it a "treasure hunt" where the child has to hunt for missing treasure that you've hidden somewhere in the house or the yard.
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler



No need to buy those grocery store sets! To get ready for this game, save empty boxes and cans from your own groceries, i.e. cereal boxes, canned goods, jars, cracker boxes, etc. You can even save empty laundry detergent containers and shampoo bottles. Make sure all the empties are clean and those items, like cans, have no sharp edges. In order to prevent boxes from getting squished and misshapen, try stuffing them with newspaper. Save paper or plastic bags from your regular shopping trips to "bag" the groceries after your child on his/her shopping trip.
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler

group games


Blow up a balloon, toss up in the air, and see how long you can keep it in the air, you can use one balloon for the whole group, or you can give each child their own balloon.



This is a great on a hot summer day! You will need a flat bed sheet or tablecloth per team, lots of water balloons and a net or rope.
Run the rope between trees if you do not have a net. Instruct each team member to hold onto his or her sheet. The balloon is put onto the sheet and the team tries to flip it over the net to the other team, who must catch it in their sheet and flip it back. If one team drops or misses, the other team gets the point.
Do not overfill the balloons or they will be too heavy to toss. You can also use foam balls or ping pong balls for this activity.



Everybody stands in a circle.
Pass a beanbag around circle to music.
When music stops person holding beanbag is out.
Pretend the beanbag is a very, very, very, HOT POTATO and pass it quickly so it doesn't burn your hands!



Make a little 007 out of your child. You can pretend you are out to foil a plot by some villain to take over the world. Give your child "assignments" in which he/she will have to write down (or remember certain details). This is a good game to play if you are busy and can't really play with your child, because you can give the "assignments" while you make dinner, pay bills, etc. If you live on a street with a fair amount of traffic, you can tell your child to observe the cars that drive by and make a note of, say, any red ones or any vans. Have him/her report back in 5 minutes with the result, then send give the next assignment. The key is not to wait more than 5 minutes, or your child will become bored. Also, I don't recommend asking your child to spy or eavesdrop on the neighbors. If you want to assign your child to observe and document the actions of people, have him/her do it from the safety of inside the house, like from a window. You don't know what someone may do if they spot your child watching them and taking notes.
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler



This game assumes that your child has at least some stuffed animals. The stuffed animals become the zoo animals, and you set them up in their "cages." You can use the furniture for the different areas of the zoo--i.e., a couch could be the primate house, a chair could hold reptiles, etc. When I looked at my son's stuffed animals I found quite a few that would work for a zoo: giraffe, elephant, monkey, bear, panda, koala, seal, snake, rabbit, horse. With your child, you can either play "A Visit to the Zoo" or "Zookeeper." For "A Visit to the Zoo," you can take turns pretending to observe the animals in their "cages" while the other makes the animal move around or perform. If your child has already been to a real zoo, you can make this game a re-enactment of their visit there, with your child talking about what he/she saw. If your child has not been to a real zoo, you can use this game to talk about what a zoo is, what it is like, and perhaps plan a visit to one for a future date. For the "Zookeeper" game, you and your child can pretend to be the zookeepers and/or trainers who care for the animals. Once you play this game once with your child, he/she will be able to play it alone or with siblings/friends the next time around.
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler

group games


With the exception of two players, all the kids join hands and form a circle. One person is chosen as the cat and stands outside the circle. The other person is the rat and stands inside the circle. The object of the game is for the cat to catch the rat. The players in the circle can raise or lower their arms to allow the rat to enter or leave the circle. By lowering their arms, they will not allow the cat to follow and catch the rat. If the rat is finally caught, the rat and the cat each return to the circle after choosing their replacements. If the cat does not catch the rat by the time the circle group has counted to 50 slowly, then a new pair is selected.

group games


Another game that takes a classic group game and is easily converted to a seasonal activity is the "Cotton ball race"
This is the game where the group forms 2 lines parallel to each other. The first person in line is given a spoon and an item that fits into it, and must balance the item over a short course and around a given spot (i.e. a tree, a chair) and back to their team. The next person takes the spoon and repeats this action until everyone on the team finishes. Use Grapes in the Summer, Cranberries during the winter holidays, or eggs during the Spring holidays. For a birthday use a small water balloon and a large serving spoon! Use your imagination to vary this game for the event



Try this math activity with your kids!

Remove the face cards and 10s from a deck of cards. Spread the remaining cards facedown on the table. Each player tries to pick 2 cards that will equal 10.The player's turn ends when she picks a pair that doesn't equal 10. Then the next player takes her turn. When all the cards are gone, the player with the most pairs wins!



Mancala is a game that has been around for centuries. Forms of this game were played in ancient Africa and Asia. There are many different names, boards and rules of play for Mancala. . . but most are played on wooden boards with beads, stones or glass game pieces. Children in Africa would play by scooping holes in the dirt to create a game board.

This version is one that you can make with a Styrofoam egg carton, two applesauce (or pudding cups) and dried beans. Of course, you can use anything for game pieces, beads, pennies, or anything small and easy to scoop!

You will need 48 dried beans to start the game - 4 in each cup. Two people play at a time.

Set up:

Place the board between the two players so that the long sides face the players- and the two applesauce cups (Mancala cups) are on the right and left. You will have six cups of beans facing each player. Place 4 beans in each cup. Each player has a Mancala cup - which is the applesauce cup on their LEFT. This cup is where they put the beans they collect.

Object of the game:

Each player takes a turn and tries to collect as many beans as possible in their Mancala cup before the other player clears their side of the board.

How to play:

One player starts. In his or her turn, they pick up all of the beans from one cup on their side of the board- Then - going clockwise- they place one bean at a time in each cup- including their Mancala (collection cup) until they run out of beans.


If you go first and pick up all the beans in the cup on the far left- you would drop one bean in your Mancala (collection) cup and one bean each in the cups on the other side of the board. You must put one bean in each and every cup you pass over- EXCEPT for the opponent's Mancala cup. You just skip that cup.
If the last bean a player has drops into their Mancala cup, they get to go again! (Strategy here would tell you to start with the fourth cup from the left. . . which would let you drop your last bean into your Mancala. . . then you get another turn.

Also- in this version of the game, if you drop the last bean into a cup that already contains beans, you pick up all the beans in that cup and keep going. Your turn ends when you place the last bean into an empty cup! Then, it's the other players turn.

The game ends when one player has no more beans left in the cups on their side of the board. The player with the most beans in their Mancala cup wins!



Take your child outside on a sunny day. Choose a child to be IT. Try to step on another child's shadow. When IT steps on another child's shadow, that child becomes the next IT.



Kids would form two teams. One team would form two lines facing each other. They had playground balls for ammunition (two balls is the norm.) The other team would scatter about between the lines of the first team.
The first team would then throw balls at team two. If a member of team two was hit below the shoulders, s/he was out and had to stand aside. If a player on team two caught the ball in the air (not after a bounce), s/he received a free "life" (ie-if s/he is hit again, s/he has used up a "life" and is not out.) A player may not receive more than three "lives." The fourth, fifth, etc. time a player catches the ball, s/he may bring players who were out, back into the game by calling a name. If and when all players of team two are out, the teams switch places.
VARIATION: If a player on the opposite team catches a ball you threw before it bounced, the thrower is 'out.'



Let your child get behind the wheel of a school or city bus. Gather some chairs and arrange them in rows, like a bus, with one chair at the very front. You can be a passenger on the bus; other passengers can include other family members or stuffed animals. Give your child a round object, like a plate (preferably plastic or paper) or a lid of some sort to use as a steering wheel. Get on and off the "bus" at various stops throughout the route. You can discuss the route in advance of the game, to get your child thinking about different areas of town and where he/she would like to go.
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler

group games


A good party game or playgroup game. Divide into teams. Make sure everyone is wearing shoes with laces, this could be tricky, you may have to tell parents the day before if you know you are going to be playing the game. To play, race to the turn around line and take off one tennis shoe. Then, hop back to your team. Once you're back, take off your other shoe. Then, run back to where the 1st shoe was left and put that shoe back on and tie it. Then, hop back to your team and put on the other shoe. After you have tied your shoe, tag the next person in line and then they go, continue in this manner until one team is done.



October is a great season for bringing "memory" outdoors. Traditionally perceived as a game of classification and matching, memory can be transformed from a stationary card game to an interactive scavenger hunt. First, make a list of things that can be found in your own backyard or park. (acorns, oak or maple leaves, pinecones or pine needles, etc.) If your child is too young to read go out and select one of each item and put it on a tray. Let the fun begin… equip your daughter with a basket or bag to collect the items in and have her "match" as many items as she can. When you are done you can take these items inside and make a centerpiece for the dinner table or a collage for the refrigerator. Classification is an important skill that can be developed on an ongoing basis. For example your child can match the socks as they come out of the dryer, match the cans of vegetables up in the cupboard, or just leaf through a magazine and try to find pictures of things you may have in your home. This is easily adapted to all seasons and with a little imagination you can play a different memory game every week.



Use a large ball. The players stand in a circle with feet touching on both sides. One kid is "it" and stands in the center. He or she tries to roll the ball between the feet of any child in the circle. If the child is successful, he/she takes the place of the child who had the ball go between their legs, and this person in turn becomes "it". The children in the circle can only use their hands to stop the ball; they should not move their legs, keeping their feet touching.



In this game, the kids form two opposing lines and attempt to "break through" the opposing team's line.

At first, two teams are chosen of equal size, and they form two lines, facing each other and holding hands.

One side starts by picking a person on the opposing team and saying "Red Rover, Red Rover, send
right over"

Jason then lets go of his teammates and begins a headlong rush for the other line. His goal is to break through
the line by overpowering the kid's hold on eachother.

If Jason breaks through, he chooses one person for the opposing team to join his team, and they both go back
and join in their line.

If he fails to break through, Jason becomes part of the other team.

Each team alternates calling people over until one team has all the people and is declared the winner.

Note that since all the players are on the winning team at the end, there really are no losers in this game.


PIN THE ____ ON THE ___.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Be creative with this one.
Using your party or holiday theme, select two objects to work with. (One to pin on to and the other to pin).
Traditional - pin the tail on the donkey.
Spring - pin the bumblebee on the flower.
Dinosaur party theme - pin the dino egg to the dino nest.
Tea Party - Pin the cup on the saucer.
Winter - pin the carrot on the snowman. (where the nose goes!)
Birthday party- Pin the candles on the cake, pin the bow (use real bows) on the present (drawn on paper).
Halloween - Pin the candy into the Ghost's mouth.
Thanksgiving - Pin the tail on the Turkey.

Taking turns blindfold the children one at a time and turn them around twice. Have them "pin" (tape) the object where it belongs on the poster. The child that comes the closest wins!

group games


Ever been looking for something to do with mom or dad? Is it raining outside, and you've got nothing to do? Why not pick up an Eye Spy book? These books, colorfully decorated and designed, are a great way to have fun with mom or dad (or both) and challenge your brain at the same time! Each page has a complicated-looking colour picture, and a list of objects that you have to find within it. School Days is an easy starter, but once you get better, you can work your way up to Super Challenger. Whether you're alone or with a parent, Eye Spy books are another great way to have fun!

group games


To prepare for this game you should make a card for everyone similar to a Bingo card. (5 squares by 5 squares) Then make a list of things to find that is appropriate to the group of people that will be playing. You can use the list below or make up your own list. Print the directions below and the list of things to find. ( I print them on one sheet of paper to make it simple.)

Mingle with the others and ask the following questions listed below. As you find a person that meets the description write their name in a box below. Include in the box the persons first and last name, and the number of the question that they discussed with you. For example: Ann has Brown hair and question number 2 says, "Find someone with brown hair." You would write Ann #2 in any of the boxes listed below. You can only use each person's name once. If you are a winner be prepared to tell us about the new friends you have met!

Find someone who has a pet.
Find someone whose middle name that starts with A.
Find someone who got an A in English.
Find someone who rides a bike.
Find someone who has a job.
Find someone who has a room of their own.
Find someone who has been to New York.
Find someone who has painted toenails.
Find someone who wears contacts.
Find someone who has never flown in an airplane.
Find someone who wore braces.
Find someone who has never been skiing.
Find someone who has a brother.
Find someone who is going out of town for Christmas.
Find someone who already has their Christmas shopping done.
Find someone who has hiked the Superstition Mountains.
Find someone who has the same first name that you have.
Find someone who plays an instrument.
Find someone who baby-sits.

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