Top Ten Games
Children need lots of opportunities to play games, indoors and outdoors. There are
lots of traditional outdoor games such as ‘duck, duck, goose’ and children need time
to play catching games, circle games, singing and dancing games, skipping games,
target games and parachute games.
Hopscotch and chalked games
Draw a simple chalked hopscotch game on the ground. Throw a small pebble and try
different ways of moving to collect it – hopping on single squares or jumping with two feet on
double squares. Pick up the pebble, turn around and hop and jump back. There are lots of
variations of this game. Other simple chalked games include traveling games, tracks and
moving around chalked shapes.
Children love opportunities to knock things down and throw things into containers. These
games offer the chance for exploring tallying and scoring too. Try beanbags onto chalked
targets, balls into buckets, and home made skittles from bottles filled with sand or water.
Make a tin can alley with clean, empty tins with no sharp edges. Stack the cans, three at the
bottom, then two, then one on top. Use rolled up socks to knock the cans down.
There are lots of parachute games and many ideas in The Little Book of Parachute Play by
Clare Beswick (2013, Featherstone). Use a small parachute or large duvet cover and make
sure there are enough adults to keep the parachute moving. Begin with simple games such
as keeping leaves moving in the air above the parachute, before moving on to games that
involve moving around and being under the chute,
Musical cushions is based on the traditional party games of ‘musical chairs’. Place cushions
or carpet squares in a row or a circle, making sure there is one for every child playing.
Children move around the cushions or squares as music plays, and when it stops, sit down.
Cushions are removed, one or two at a time, so that not every child has a cushion. Those
who are ‘out’ help to play the music and the game continues until just one child is left.
What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
Another, old traditional favourite with lots of variations. In one simple version, one child acts
as Mr or Mrs Wolf and the other children stand some way away. The ‘wolf’ hides their eyes
and the children chant ‘what’s the time Mrs Wolf?’. The wolf responds with a time, such as
‘three o clock’ and the children take steps towards the wolf, saying ‘1,2,3’. The wolf turns
around and the children chant again. The game goes on until the wolf says ‘dinner time’ and
the children then race back to the starting line as the wolf chases. The first child caught
becomes the wolf.
This is a very simple card game and a great start for children who have not played cards.
Younger children will find children’s picture snap cards easiest – matching an identical car or
teddy image to another. Older children can move on to traditional playing cards. Deal all the
cards out, take turns to lay one card, face up, on a pile. When two of the same cards are laid
on top of one another, call out ‘snap’. The first person to call out wins the cards in the pile.
Continue until one person has all the cards.