Party Games to Keep Children Entertained
The following games are one BBC Researcher’s favourites from his time as a Boy Scout – fun and easy to prepare, they are guaranteed to keep kids quiet for extended periods of time.
Arrange a bunch of items on a blanket and cover them. Then gather all the kids around and uncover the stuff on the blanket and give them two minutes to memorize everything they see there. Then recover everything and give them paper and a pencil to write down all the items they remember. The winner is the one who remembers the most stuff.
Party Game for 5 year olds and up
Catch The Key
This is another party game that’s fun for kids aged 5 and up.
- Blindfold a person and sit them on a chair with a set of keys underneath.
- Then the rest of the group lines up and tries to walk up quietly, steal the keys and return to the starting line.
- The person in the chair points at people he hears and they are ‘out’. It works in a large room or outside.
It’s pretty fun. The winner gets to sit in the chair next. Or when everyone is ‘out’ you can just pick another. Kids will play this for hours if you let them – and the object of the game is silence.
Party Game for 10 year olds and up
This is fun for older kids, age 10 or so and older, and for groups of five to eight.
Two kids start out acting a scene which can be anything at all: playing ball, dancing, eating a meal, driving a car, anything. While the two are acting, one of the rest of the group (who are watching) calls ‘Stop!’ or ‘Freeze!’. The two who are acting stop in mid-motion, and the person who called ‘stop’ takes the place of one of the people frozen, but has to replace them in the same pose they were in. The person that was removed joins the rest of the spectators, and restarts the scene by saying ‘Go!’.
The game continues until everyone is bored – this may take some time.
Party Game for 10 or More Kids
The more people you have for this game, the better (more than ten, preferably). Find a room with four corners, and number them one to four (make sure everyone playing knows what corner is what number). Pick one child to be ‘it’ and blindfold them, then have everyone run to a corner (any corner, but make sure people split up). The kid known as ‘it’ calls out a number from one to four. The people in that corner are all out, then everyone scatters to another corner, or stays in the same one (it’s okay to go to the corner that was just called, but it might get called again, so watch out!). Play like this until one person remains, or everyone is out. It’s fun and exhilarating, especially if you’re a youngster.
Party Game for 14 or More Kids
Heads up Seven up
You need at least 14 people for this, another reason why this game was often played in school. Pick seven people to be ‘it’. Everyone else puts their heads down and their thumbs up. The chosen seven sneak around and push down the thumb of any person they choose. (One to one ratio). Then, when everyone has made their selections, someone calls out ‘Head’s up, seven up!’. The seven people who had their thumbs pushed down stand up, and each person gets one guess to pick who chose them. If they get it right, they take the person’s place. If they don’t, they sit down, and their chooser stays up. To play with fewer people, have three or five people be it.
Both of these games are good for about six years to ten, but even older children will enjoy them. As far as keeping children entertained, don’t allow any downtime. Have breaks for snacks, but not enough time for milling around and getting into trouble. Prizes always offer an added thrill, but don’t leave anyone out!
Hot Potato (Pass the Parcel)
This works well for Christmas parties or other gift-exchange parties, or perhaps would be a good way to distribute goodies. You will need a wrapped gift for every child that will be playing and music – a CD player or iPOd will work best.
All the children sit in a circle and a wrapped gift (goodie) is given to one child in the circle. Start the music, and while the music plays the gift is passed around the circle like a ‘hot potato’, quickly so it doesn’t ‘burn’ fingers. Randomly stop the music, and whichever child is holding the ‘hot potato’ when the music stops is out, but gets to keep and unwrap the gift.
What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
Ideally played in a fairly large space. One child or an adult is Mr Wolf and stands at one end of the allocated space with their back to the children who stand at the other end. They chant ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ Mr Wolf replies for example, ‘Four O’clock’. The children then take four steps towards Mr Wolf. This continues until Mr Wolf replies instead ‘Dinner time’, turns and runs to try and catch one of the children. The captured child then becomes Mr Wolf. If the children reach Mr Wolf before he calls dinner time, then the game is repeated with the same Mr Wolf.
Duck, Duck, Goose
The children sit in a circle with one standing to start the game. This child walks round the outside of the circle tapping each child on the head saying ‘duck’. At a random point he/she changes this to ‘goose’ and runs off round the circle. The ‘goose’ must jump up and run in the opposite direction. Whichever child reaches the vacant place first sits down and the loser continues the game. I have experienced this party game on many occasions and it goes down very well with all age groups.
There’s nothing better for generating a great party spirit than a rip-roaring sing-a-long. The thing to remember is to keep the lyrics short, sweet and easy to remember and also to get some action to accompany your tune. The following should give you a little inspiration.
Farmer’s in his Den
Children stand in a circle with one child selected as the farmer in the centre. Sing/chant:
The farmer’s in his den
The farmer’s in his den
e-i-adio, the farmer’s in his den.
The farmer wants a wife
The farmer wants a wife
e-i-adio, the farmer wants a wife
The farmer then chooses another child to go into the centre as ‘the wife’. Continue with the following verses:
‘The wife wants a child’, ‘The child wants a dog’, ‘The dog wants a bone’ (and any others you wish to invent), then each character chooses the next child to join them. Finish with ‘We all pat the dog’, patting the child on the head who is being ‘the dog’.
This nursery rhyme is surprisingly enduring. Hold hands in a circle and sing:
a pocketful of posies,
we all fall down
Everyone then sits down on last line.
Oranges and Lemons
For ‘Oranges and Lemons’ you’ll need to choose one child to be an orange and another to be a lemon. They hold hands to form an arch through which the other children process while singing the song:
Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clements
You owe me five farthings
Say the bells of St Martins
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey
When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney
I’m sure I don’t know
Says the great bell at Bow
At this point the arch starts chopping down to ‘Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head, chop chop chop chop’. With the last chop they seize a child who has to choose to be an orange or lemon and stand behind the appropriate child, holding their waist. Repeat until all have been ‘chopped’. Then you can have a ‘tug-o-war’ to see which team can pull the other over/let go first.