Encouraging Children to Have Fun at Birthday Parties and Celebrations
Many of the games traditionally played at children’s parties focus entirely too much on singling out a winner for praise and leaving others silently labeled ‘losers.’ Some, like musical chairs, leave the children who lose early in the game to stand around unoccupied while the remaining few competitors engage in all-out melee to try to be the last man standing. Children truly enjoy working together and cooperation and birthday parties and celebrations are a great place to practice these skills.
These ten games focus on working together, problem solving, and cooperation, and they are so much fun that no one will miss the competition.
• The Human Pretzel
This game is played by having all of the kids stand in a big circle in a wide open space. The kids all put their hands in the middle and grab hold of someone else. One of the guests is designated ‘the end,’ and they let go with one hand only, and the kids try to untangle themselves without anyone else letting go. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of chaos, and no one is left out and everyone wins together.
• Arts and Crafts
One of the best ways to keep kids busy and engaged is to give them the opportunity to make something. Have all the kids work together on a mural or they can make party favors of some kind to exchange at the end of the day. It will give them the chance to be creative and to work collaboratively, all while playing with their friends.
• Bouncing Ball
Have the kids take a large sheet outside and stand around the edges, holding it taut like a trampoline. Choose a fairly light weight ball and toss it into the middle. The kids’ task is to keep the ball bouncing using the sheet alone. See how long they can keep it up!
• Group Juggle
This is another game best played outside or in a large open space. Again the kids stand in a circle, and one member of the group tosses a ball to someone else, who passes it on and so on until it comes back to the first person. Now the pattern is set, have the first child begin again, tossing the ball to the same person as before. After the second child passes that ball on, the first should introduce another, and another, and they should be thrown following the same pattern. It’s a great game, and the kids will have lots of fun trying to keep all the balls in the air.
Begin this game by having all the kids gather in an area with plenty of room to move around, and designate a leader who stands at the front. The leader will call out a number and an object, and the party guests will form groups of that size, who will try to become that object. For example, if the leader calls out “3, airplane,” the kids will scramble to get into groups of three, and each of those groups will try to become the best airplane they can be. Together they’ll come up with hilarious and creative ways to pantomime the assigned object.
• Mirror, Mirror
Mimic games like this one are really fun, and they can help kids to develop their nonverbal communication skills. For this version, select a leader of the group, and anything they do will have to be duplicated by the other kids. At some point in the game, the leader will give a silent signal to someone else in the group, indicating that it’s their turn to take over. See how many of the kids notice the change, and how quickly they adjust to follow the new leader.
• Robot Programming
This game is geared somewhat more toward older children, but is great fun for anyone who plays. One child is designated as the robot and one as the programmer. The rest of the kids give the programmer a task for the robot to complete, but the robot has to be given specific instructions. You can’t tell a robot to go outside, or even just to open the door. Instead, a robot needs complete instruction, right down to “take two steps forward,” and “turn the door knob to the right.” Some groups of kids can spend hours breaking common everyday tasks down into the smallest individual tasks.
This twist on Hide and Seek is a really fun way to occupy a large group for a while. Instead of each child running off to hide from ‘it,’ one hides while the rest wait, then the larger group goes looking for the hiding kid. Each time someone finds them, that person has to try to climb or crawl into the hiding spot, meaning that each child who successfully finds ‘it’ makes it easier for the next, until everyone is found.
• Animal Antics
Give each child a card or sticker with a specific animal on it. They will them begin to imitate the animal they were assigned, and try to guess what the other kids are imitating. Try to throw in some more challenging critters to keep the game interesting, such as an aardvark, or a giraffe. Enjoy the great sounds and movements the kids make to clue each other in.
• Managed Chaos
Sometimes less structured activities are a good choice, but they can still be selected for their inclusive qualities. A bounce house or a slip and slide will fill time while allowing the kids to play together without assigning any winners or losers.About the Author
This post was written by Jenny Franklin. She is a mother, a party planner and a blogger and often writes on the topics of children’s birthdays as a freelance writer for the girls’ birthday party supplies producer, Party Pail.