Whether you are hosting a family reunion, birthday party or have simply found yourself babysitting all the neighborhood children for a day, you’ll want to come up with ways to keep them occupied. Group games encourage friendly competition as well as team work and problem-solving. They also help to make a long afternoon pass quickly.
Tag is a game to play with a group of children. If you want to spice things up, you can play variations of tag, such as Snake in the Gutter or Red Rover. To play Red Rover, split the group into two. Have each team stand about 50 yards apart and tell them to link arms. Team A yells “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (child’s name on Team B) over!” The selected child will run across to to Team A and will attempt to break through their linked arms. If she doesn’t get through, she must join Team A.
A-Hunting We Will Go
Keep a large group occupied by sending them on a treasure hunt. Hide a prize or several prizes around your house or at a public park. Divide the group into several teams or send each child out individually. Give out a map and clues. Whoever finds the prize first gets to keep it. You can also send older children out on a scavenger hunt. Give them a list of things to find. You may want to send a video camera with them so they can document their search.
Break the Ice
Sometimes, you may have a group of children who don’t know each other well. Get them talking to each other with an icebreaker game or two. A good game to get things started is a name game. Stand in a circle and have each child say their name. Then toss a bean bag to one child, saying his name as you do. Tell that child to toss the bag to another, and to state the other child’s name as he tosses it.
If you have a large enough group and enough outdoor space, you can play a sport with a group of children. Keep the activity as non-competitive as possible and put a stop to things if children get too upset. Kickball, whiffle ball and Ultimate Frisbee are all fun games that a group of children can enjoy playing together. Those games also do not require as much skill or have as many rules as other sports.
If it’s cold or raining, you’ll need to come up with games to keep the children entertained indoors. Keep them occupied with guessing games. Hand each child a card. One of the cards should be the ace of spades. Whoever gets the ace of spades will wink at another child, without anyone seeing him do so. The child who is winked at says “I’m dead.” The other children need to guess who the winker is before he winks at the entire group, and the game ends.
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