Toddlers tend to enjoy playing games, even though they may not have the attention spans of older kids. Plan a variety of games for your toddler’s birthday party that engages the childrens imaginations without causing conflict or jealousy. Stick to active games to avoid having a room full of bored toddlers who may act out or become cranky.
Simple games can be played inside, such as “Mother, May I?” In this game, the toddler has to ask permission to take silly steps forward until someone reaches you. A similar, faster-paced version would be “Red Light, Green Light” where you call out “Green Light” for them to advance toward you and “Red Light” for them to pause. Anyone who doesn’t pause has to go back to the starting line.
Gather a dozen pair of socks, or more, and put half the socks on each side of the room. Separate the room in half by laying a rope, ribbon, yarn or putting bright tape down. Split the toddlers into two groups, one on each side. The object of the game is to toss the socks to the other side and say, “Clean Your Room.” This is an active–and loud–game that typically causes hysterics in the little ones and can go on until the toddlers are exhausted, since neither side will actually “win.”
Outdoor treasure hunts are fun because you can utilize more hiding spaces. Don’t make it too difficult to find the treasure, however, or the toddlers most likely won’t see it.
Simple relay races are easy enough for the toddlers to understand and will wear out some of their energy (if only temporarily). Consider having the kids run back and forth while putting on clothes, such as a hat, large T-shirt and sunglasses, since toddlers usually enjoy dressing up as well.
Water balloon tosses are another option for an outdoor party in warm weather. The toddlers will likely be wet and full of giggles by the end of the game.
Draw numbers or animals inside small circles or squares that make up a large circle. Ask the toddlers to walk around the circle so that one child is on each space at all times. When the music plays, the toddlers should walk; when the music stops, they have to stop. Draw numbers or cards with images of animals out of a hat or bucket. The toddler standing on that space gets a prize.
Give each toddler a child-friendly instrument to play and let them put in a parade, playing their instrument. You may have to sit through multiple parades as each toddler will likely want to try different instruments.
Freeze dance is simple, yet easily enjoyed by toddlers. Turn on the music and let them dance. Pause the music and watch them try to freeze. You could make it competitive by making them sit if they don’t freeze, but toddlers may not understand the concept and become agitated.
Put together a bean bag toss area using small bean bags or socks filled with jelly beans. Have the toddlers try to make through a hole cut into cardboard or into a bucket a few feet away.
Crafty activities or free play may work better than structured games for toddlers. If this is the case, let the kids draw on butcher paper, finger paint or draw outside with sidewalk chalk. Bubbles and balloons are other toddler favorites, although any popped balloons are potential choking hazards, which should be picked up and discarded immediately.
Some toddlers may not understand the concept of sharing or winning quite yet, which makes it a good idea if each guest is awarded with the same prize after games. For example, if you choose to play the musical game walk, make sure each toddler ends up with a gift. Put your toddler’s favorite toys away for his birthday party so he doesn’t become jealous or angry if someone else tries to play with something that is his.
Free play in a structured environment, such as a wading pool, sand box, bounce house or ball pit, may work better than structured games.
- little toddler is playing with sand image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com