Kids of all ages love playing games – especially with you. If you’re looking for a few boredom-busters, then here are some fun ideas to get you started.
Games for Under-5s
This can be made inside or outside. Use a variety of objects (indoor: cushions, soft toys; outdoor: boxes, buckets) – no sharp edges – to create an obstacle course for your child. You can time them; get them to do it start to finish, then back again; they could even hop, skip or jump it.
Draw a Hopscotch grid on some outdoor concrete (not your driveway – too dangerous) and teach your child the simple rules that go with this old-fashioned game. It’s great for coordination, balance and counting and will use up plenty of energy. If it’s raining, grab an umbrella and be like Mary Poppins, then let the rain do the cleaning up!
Make goop with 2 cups of cornflour and 1 cup of water (mix thoroughly and you can add a couple of drops of food colouring also, if you wish). Great for preschoolers of all ages. Even toddlers can safely play with this non-toxic mixture. To turn it into a multi-sensory experience, you could add a few drops of scent such as lavender or other types of infused oils, or even a tiny amount of coffee or herbs. In this way, the children exercise several senses when playing with the goop: touch, smell and sight. You can also hide small toys such as plastic animals or lego in the goop and let the children have fun finding the hidden objects.
Water play (fully supervised, of course) is always popular with this age-group, so you could get them running under the sprinkler, or squirting the hose; or floating boats either in the bath, or in puddles on a rainy day. They could also paint the fence with water, which is a great non-messy way for kids to have fun with painting!
games for 5- to 8-years-old
Inside or outside, one person is ‘it’ and they have to find the other kids who have hidden in various locations. They have to try and sneak back to base without being spotted by ‘it’.
This is a fun game with few rules and simply requires a Twister mat and a spinner. Kids love the fun of getting tangled and it usually ends in fits of giggles.
Cowboys and Indians (or Goodies vs Baddies)
This is a good chasing game and kids can make up their own rules as they go along. If it’s raining, work out which parts of the house are in bounds or out of bounds, and prepare for squeals of joy (or capture).
Obstacle courses are also fun for older kids and could include jumping over boxes, hopping into a bucket, jumping on the bike, hitting a coconut off a pole, throwing a ball through a hoop, for example. These courses can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, and can be made down hallways, in the garage or in the garden. If it’s raining and you want to be outdoors, add some water obstacles in there and make the rain a part of it all.
Word games such as Boggle and Scrabble (or Junior Scrabble) are great for kids of this age group, as are card games like Patience, Happy Families, and Go Fish.
games for 9- to 12-years-old
Murder in the dark
This night-time game requires torches and bravery. Kids are divided into groups and go off to hide, leaving one group (or a parent) to stay behind for a few minutes. This group (or the parent) then has to search for the others in the dark, with their torches. (Scary noises and screaming optional!)
This a hugely popular card game, despite it’s rather old-fashioned image. Using a cribbage board to score, the aim is to get to a target number of points. Great for practising strategy, tactics and counting.
Who am I?
A sticker is put on the head of one family member, with the name of either a book/movie character, celebrity, singer etc and through a series of questions that receive only a yes or no answer from the others, they have to try and guess who they are.
Friendly fight time
Wet and dry weather water fights, water balloon fights, or even Nerf gun wars using the furniture for barricades, are always a good way to burn off energy (but guaranteed to have a high noise factor!).
Kids love cooking. Turn it into a competition to see who can bake the best cupcake, create the yummiest pizza topping or the best biscuit decoration. And they even get to eat their handiwork, yum!
more games from tots to teens: