Fun kids’ games do not require expensive equipment or extensive rules. In fact, many classic children’s games rose from activities children invented while playing in parks, neighborhoods and playgrounds. No matter the fun activity they choose, children tend to stick with structured games for about 10 to 20 minutes, while preteens may select more involved games that last twice as long. Offer two or three different games from which groups of children can choose or, with large groups, offer two types of fun games at the same time so children can play one they prefer.
Fun kids’ games may or may not involve teams or competition, but they must offer a chance for everyone to participate. Games in which children are “out” and must sit for the remainder of the game result in more hurt feelings than happy children. Instead, adopt the method of the playground game Spud, in which children get four chances, spelling out the word Spud, before they are out.
Fun sports for children involve lots of action and little standing around, like volleyball, dodge ball, soccer, crab soccer and kickball. Chasing games, such as freeze tag and chain tag, are perennial favorites. Circle games, such as Hot Potato, Hokey Pokey, Farmer in the Dell, and Windows and Doors, work well with younger children. Older groups of children enjoy line games, such as Red Rover and team dodge ball. Many fun games involve one child being “it,” such as Hide and Seek; Red Light, Green Light; Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone; and Heads Up, Seven Up.
Fun games keep children active and motivated. They may focus on a common goal, such as beating the clock to build a tower of blocks, or they may be open-ended and less-structured, such as climbing on playground equipment without touching the ground or kicking a ball around a park. Some fun games have an educational element, such as Concentration, in which children must name objects in a category, or 20 Questions, in which children must guess a mystery person, place or thing by asking 20 questions about it. The game Operator, also known as Telephone, promotes listening skills. Children sit in a circle and whisper a secret message, observing how it changes by the time the message reaches the last child.
Many enjoyable kids’ games encourage involvement and cooperation. In Blob Tag, two children chase the remaining players. As they tag other players, the tagged people join the blob, until the blob consumes everyone. Another fun cooperative game, People to People, has a person calling out orders such as “nose to ear” and “foot to knee,” with partners touching the named body parts. When the caller announces “people to people” everyone runs and changes partners.
Increase the fun quotient of even the most overplayed games by adding an interesting twist. Play Hide and Seek in the dark, Freeze Tag in a swimming pool or Hot Potato while standing on playground equipment. Use three balls for kickball or balloons in volleyball. Run backward during any game, or have children play while wearing balloons attached to their arms and legs.
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