Children of all ages enjoy playing games ranging from organized team sports to open-ended cooperative games. Some of the most fun games require minimal equipment and can be played in playgrounds, backyards, party rooms and even at home. Mix up the game plan by integrating unstructured activities, such as doing marble mazes or building with manipulatives, with organized games.
Board games such as Candy Land, Mousetrap, Clue and Sorry provide quiet diversion. Card games such as War and Go Fish are simple enough for young children to play, especially with an older teammate to help with strategizing. Running games such as cartoon tag, octopus and spud work well in tight spaces as well as open fields or basketball courts. Team games such as capture the flag, crab soccer and charades add healthy competition to the mix.
Many favorite children’s games have an element of surprise or silliness. For example, in animalisms, a blindfolded leader tries to guess another player’s identity by having him oink like a pig, meow like a cat, moo like a cow or make other animal noises. In Boola Boola, a leader leaves the area and the players hide a mystery object. When the leader returns, players sing “Boola Boola” louder as the leader gets closer to the hidden object and softer as the leader gets more distant.
Some of the most fun kids games have no winners or losers. In guess what’s missing, players pair up. One player closes his eyes while the other player removes or changes something. The player opens his eyes and tries to guess what is missing. In freeze dance, a leader plays recorded music while players dance. When the leader turns off the music, all players must freeze. Whoever moves takes on the role of leader for the next round.
Some of the simplest children’s games need only small adaptations to increase the element of fun. Try a homemade game of Pictionary that limits the subject to favorite cartoon characters or foods. Change hot potato to bouncy potato, and toss in a few balloons instead of a ball. Play Simon says at breakneck speed or dodge ball with water balloons.
Highly competitive games often do not fare well with children of multiple ages or vast differences in ability. Level out the playing field by mixing up teams or by allowing second chances.
- mancala game image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com