We’ve become game junkies. I love games so much that the trunk of my car doesn’t hold groceries. That’s where the croquet set, tennis racquets, Frisbee discs, bats and assorted balls take residence. Don’t ask about the garage. Sometimes there is room for a car.
Being a game junkie helped me lead a kid’s fitness club called Miles of Smiles in my community. Our club has kids ages two through five. There is a lot of energy and a wide variation in attention spans and coordination. Some of these games might seem too simple, but simple games can easily be jazzed up for older kids.
Here are a few tips to help get you started.
Tips for Successful Group Games
- Give clear instructions and objectives.
- Play more than once. Repetition leads to mastery of skills and builds confidence.
- If you don’t have cones, make sure you find a place with obvious boundaries. (e.g. a sidewalk, tree, etc.)
- Invite older kids to help lead or create new adaptations.
Here are a few easy games that require just a few pieces of equipment. If you don’t have the exact equipment, flex your creativity and use something else in its place. Adaptation is where great new games are created!
- Equipment Needed: Hula hoops, bean bags
- Objective: Try to get a bean bag into a hula hoop.
- Instructions: Arrange hula hoops on the ground and pretend they are tires. Have participants each take a bean bag and try to toss it into the hula hoop. Have them try tossing the bean bag into the tire from varied distances.
- Adaptations: Have someone hold the hula hoop in the air, Toss the bean bag while standing on one leg, etc.
SAVE THE EGGS
- Equipment: Music, 1 hula hoop, plastic Easter eggs, cones
- Objective: Try to get all the plastic Easter eggs inside the nest before the music turns off.
- Instructions: Create a large circle with cones and scatter plastic Easter eggs inside the area. Next, place the hula hoop inside the large circle. Make sure you always refer to the hula hoop as, the nest. Instruct everyone to quickly get the eggs inside the nest before the music turns off. Feel free to create a fun back story about dinosaur eggs. Do multiple rounds and encourage them to improve their speed each time. Invite participants to move the nest to a new location within the cone circle.
- Adaptations: Challenge them use only one arm, one leg, hopping, skipping, etc. as they collect the eggs.
EASY PEASY GOLF
- Equipment: Foam bats, playground ball or dodge balls, hula hoops
- Objective: To hit the ball into each hula hoop in the course using only the bat.
- Instructions: Invite each child to pick a hula hoop and set it somewhere in the lawn. Each hoop is a hole in the golf course. Instruct them to only use the bat, and avoid using their hands or feet. Also challenge them to try to get the ball into the hole with as few strokes as possible. Have them work through each hole.
- Adaptations: Challenge them to do 5 jumping jacks or a 30-second plank after each successful hole. You can also have them go through with a partner and have one person hold the bat and the other person move their arms.
- Equipment: Music, yoga mats or towels
- Objective: To get on a mat when the music ends and avoid the octopus.
- Instructions: Invite participants to spread out the yoga mats or towels and leave lots of room in between them for “swimming.” You want to begin with at least 5 mats. Instruct the group that they will run around on the grass pretending to swim while the music is playing. When the music stops, they must quickly find an island (mat or towel) before the octopus snatches them. Remove a mat after each round, until there is one remaining. Participants must learn to share the mats. All feet must be on the island (mat) or the octopus will grab them.
- Adaptations: Start with one mat and then add one every round until everyone gets their own island.
- Equipment: crepe paper, 4 cones
- Objective: Run through the crepe paper.
- Instructions: This is a traditional foot race. Set two cones to represent the starting line and two more cones at the finish line. Invite two kids to hold the crepe paper and then rotate everyone through as finish line holders. Teach everyone the correct stance at a starting line and enjoy the competition. If you are working with a young group, you can allow each child a turn breaking the finishing line tape.
- Adaptations: Have varied races like skipping, hopping, etc. Start with a 25m distance and then increase to 50m and 100m.
Games help kids learn to listen, solve problems, and communicate. They also help prepare kids to play traditional sports. Have fun moving and building relationships with your favorite people.
As a Certified Heath Education Specialist, mom of three Alli inspires others to make small healthy changes every day. She lives in Fort Morgan, Colo., and blogs at Don’t Panic Mom.