This a collection of children’s party games ideal for parties and special events. It includes some old favourites along with some with a new twist.
The right/left game
This is a twist on Pass the Parcel. Write a short story (perhaps based on the theme of your party) and be sure to use the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ frequently throughout. At times use them one after another e.g. ‘The queen left the palace and turned right so she stood right in front of the maze…’
Wrap a present in paper and the children must pass it on to their left or right each time they hear the words ‘left’ or ‘right’ in the story. The person holding the parcel at the end of the story gets to open it.
Walking with binoculars
Mark a straight line on the floor. (with string, or tape). Then get each child, one at a time, to walk along the string, looking through the wrong end of a pair binoculars. See who can stay on the line for longest.
Get the children to sit at the table, or if there are too many, on the floor. Give them a piece of kitchen towel on which you place a little container about 10 raisins, and a pair of chopsticks each. They have to transfer all the raisins into the container by using the chopsticks. The first one to do it is the winner.
Animal Treasure Hunt
Make some large animal shapes out of stiff coloured paper (make each animal out of a different colour, and make two versions, as identical as possible). Cut one of the versions into four pieces and hide the pieces all over the garden/house. Put the children into pairs, and give them one animal to find (showing them the complete example so that they know exactly what they’re looking for). The first pair to complete their animal is the winner.
Picture Treasure Hunt
This really only works with a small group of children, otherwise it’ll be chaos and the clues will only last two minutes. Hide treasure in easy, safe places and draw pictures of the places (or very obvious clues which you can supplement with questions. Ie., a tap. Could be garden tap, or bathroom or kitchen sink).
Sand Treasure Hunt
Put some little pieces of ‘treasure’ (sweets, chocolate coins, little presents) on a tray, evenly spaced out. Pour sand all over the treasure, so that it’s completely concealed. Then make little flags, one for each child, with their name on. Get each child in turn to place a flag gently in the tray. When they’re all done, uncover each flag at a time to see who’s closest to the treasure, or if they’ve found any treasure within a small radius of their flag.
Put all but one of the children in a circle and get them to hold hands. (Tell the remaining child to shut their eyes). The children have to tie themselves into the most complicated knot possible without breaking hands (that bit’s important –you’ll need to keep an eye on it). They can turn round, step over each other’s arms, go under arms etc. When they’re ready, the remaining child has to come back and unknot them (and again, make sure the children don’t let go of each other, because that will break the puzzle, and also spoil the game because the fun comes when the children start falling over each other (yes, of course, health and safety permitting…).
What’s On the Tray
Put some disparate and obvious items on a tray. Give each child a pen and piece of paper. Let them look at the tray for a minute, then take the tray away. The children have to write down what was on the tray. The one with the most right answers is the winner. Variations: simply take one thing away at a time, show the tray to the group, and let them call out what’s missing.
Touch and Feel
Take a box, and put a different item in it each time. Ask the children to put their hand in the box and guess what it is. Suggestions; an orange; cotton wool; shoelace; piece of Lego; a hairbrush; etc.
Eat the jelly
Make individual bowls of jelly with an animal inside. Then make each child put their hands behind their backs, and get the animal out of the jelly. The first one to produce their animal is the winner. Best left to the end of the party.
Food on a string
Put loads of hula hoops (or whatever you like) on two long pieces of string. Either get adults to hold them up, or suspend them somehow. Divide the children into two teams. With their hands behind their backs, they’ve got to eat all the hula hoops. The first team to finish is the winner.
Escape the monster
You need a big space. Line all the children up on one side. Get an adult (or maybe two) to pretend to be monsters in the middle of a forest. The children have to run across the forest, without being caught by the monster. If they’re caught, they become a monster too. The children then have to run back across the forest the other way and any that are caught then become monsters, and so on, until the last child remains.
One person is Grandmother and they stand with their backs to everyone else who stands well back from them – between 15 and 20 feet. Everyone has to move closer to Grandmother when her head is turned. When she turns around, anyone who she sees still moving has to go back to the beginning. The person who catches up with Grandmother and taps her on the shoulder is the winner. They then become Grandmother and the game begins again.
In and out the dusty bluebells
All but one of the children stand in a circle, hold hands, and then lift them up into arches. The remaining child weaves in and out of the arches to the tune of In and out the dusty bluebells, In and out the dusty bluebells, In and out the dusty bluebells, Who shall be my partner?
The child then stops and stands behind one of the other children in the circle. While they all sing the chorus, the child behind taps on the child’s shoulder in front. Tippy tippy tappy on your shoulder, Tippy tippy tappy on your shoulder. Tippy Tippy tappy on your shoulder, You shall be my partner.The child behind then gets hold of the second child’s waist, and they weave through the arches together. They then pick a third child at the chorus, and so on, with the line getting longer and longer and hopefully more unmanageable.
Pass the Parcel
Make a parcel by wrapping up a prize in several layers of paper (one for each child, plus an extra one). Sit the children in a circle, give one of them the parcel and when the music starts, get them to hand it to the next child, who hands it on, and on. When the music stops, the child who is holding the parcel opens the first layer. Then when the music starts again, they hand it on to the next child, and so on. Wrap the final present in something obvious so that you know which is the final round. You can put a sweet or a little something in each layer of wrapping. Then the last one with the prize in can be well and truly random.
Pin the tail on the donkey
Get a large piece of card, draw a donkey on it (preferably a rather silly looking one) and make a tail. Blindfold each child and get them to attach the tail (by means of bluetak). Tell them if they cheat they’ll be disqualified. There are all sorts of variations on this: pin the eye on the alien; pin the horn on a unicorn; pin the wand on the wizard etc.
A good one for young children (2-4) when things are getting out of control. Get everyone to lie down and pretend to be sleepy lions. They musn’t make a move. You then walk around and try and disturb them by talking, or very gentle tickling (very gently you don’t want them to be out too quickly). Anyone who moves is out. They can also then help wake up the other lions.
Follow My leader
Get the children to follow a leader (maybe start with an adult to get the ball rolling). The children have to follow whatever the leader does as they move around. Suggestions: hopping, hands on head, jumping, running, skipping, silly walks, turning round, waving arms, being an animal, being a posh person, etc.
Get the children to dance to the music. When the music stops, all the children have to sit down as quickly as possible. The last one to sit is out. The last child left dancing is the winner. With young children you can turn this around and simply try and spot the one to sit down first each time.
The children dance around to music. When the music stops they have to stand absolutely still, like a statue. If anyone moves, they are out. You can vary this game by getting the children to dance like individual animals (you pick the animal first, then the children take it in turns to pick one – you can also make it even more varied by giving them an adjective – like posh horse, mad monkey, sneaky cat). When they make a statue, it has to look like a pose of that particular animal.
Put out one less chairs than there are children (or cushions, if they’re very young). The children have to dance around the chairs and when the music stops, sit on a chair immediately. The last one left without a chair has to sit out. The last child left in is the winner. Again, you don’t necessarily have to chuck a child out each time; you can just simply play a few rounds and leave it at that.
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