Why is it Important for Kids to Play Games?
When kids play games they learn social skills like communication, rule following (social norms), compromise, sportsmanship, math skills, coordination, and more.
The indoor games listed on this page are best played with four or more players and are fantastic games great for birthday parties games, playschool/preschool, summer camp, youth groups, Sunday school, club events, sleepovers, classrooms, business ice-breakers… anywhere!
These activities are just the beginning. There are more birthday party games on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share activities on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes over 1,000 play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!
Players stand close together and pass (gently toss) a ‘potato.’ You don’t have to pass it in a circle. The ‘potato’ can be a ball or other object. There is a leader who must stand so they cannot see the other players. When the leader says ‘potato’, the player holding the potato is out. Keep playing until one player is left. If the potato is in the air when the leader says ‘potato’, nobody is out for that round.
The Lonely Ghost Card Game
You will need: the same number of playing cards as you have players (one of the cards must be a joker) and five or more players.
Deal each player one card (face down). Everyone glances at their card without showing it to the others. The player with the joker is the lonely ghost. This player will try to make the other players into ghosts by winking at them. The trick is to wink so only that one person sees you winking. Once winked at, the player must count to five in their head and then say, “You Got Me”. If the lonely ghost winks at a player and they see the wink, they are out of the game, but if they miss the wink, they are still alive.
If a player thinks they know who the ghost is, they can ask “Are you the lonely ghost?” If they guess correctly, they win. If they don’t, that player becomes a ghost and is out of the game. If the ghost makes everyone else into ghosts without being caught, they win the game. Only the ghost is allowed to wink.
You will need an adult to help you play safely. Best for ages 11 and up. You will need 9 players.
One person stands on a solid platform like a chair (but no higher than waist high) with their back facing the group. The group stands in 2 lines (of 4 players each), facing each other. Everyone places their arms out, palms up, with their elbows bent like they are holding a tray. The two lines need to move close enough together that everyone’s hands and arms mix with each other and create one long line. Try to make the line of arms as flat as you can. Place pillows and extra padding underneath the line of arms—just in case.
When everyone is ready, the person on the platform will cross their arms over their chest and make themselves straight as a board—this is very important! If they bend, they will fall through!! When they are ready, they fall backwards onto the waiting hands.
HINT: The platform that they stand on should make their feet almost as high as the hands that they will be falling onto.
Hide and Seek
While one player covers their eyes and counts to 20, the rest of the group goes and hides. When the player is done counting, they try to find everyone. In the classic game, players have to stay in their original hiding spot until they are found.
VARIATION: Players can change hiding places throughout the game.
You will need four or more players.
One player is ‘Simon’ and the other players stand in front of Simon. Simon tells the group to do different actions by saying “Simon says…(and whatever he wants them to do–like stand on one foot, or hop up and down or touch their nose).” The group then follows Simon’s command.
If a player doesn’t do what Simon asks right away, they are out of the game.
Simon can also give commands without saying “Simon says”’ to try and trick players. If players do what he asks without the ‘Simon says’, they are out of the game.
Listen carefully! The last player out is Simon in the next game.
Farmer in the Dell
10 or more players hold hands and dance in circle around one player who is the farmer. As everyone sings the song (below) the farmer picks someone from the dancing circle to be his wife. The wife then picks a child, the child picks a nurse, the nurse picks a dog, the dog picks a cat, the cat picks a mouse, and finally, the mouse picks the cheese. The player who is the cheese becomes the farmer in the next round.
Sing this song as everyone dances:
The farmer in the dell
The farmer in the dell
Hi-ho, the Derry-O
The farmer in the dell
The farmer takes a wife (or wife takes a child, or the child takes a nurse, etc as the song goes on)
The farmer takes a wife (or wife takes a child, or the child takes a nurse, etc)
Hi-Ho, the Derry-O
The farmer takes a wife (or wife takes a child, or the child takes a nurse, etc)
The more people you have the harder this one gets! Everyone stands in a tight circle and puts their hands in the middle. Everyone grabs hands with which hands they can reach. Once everyone has someone else’s hand in each hand, everyone slowly tries to untie the human knot to form a large, untwisted circle. But don’t let go of anyone’s hand! Sometimes you have to climb over each other, spin around, and all sorts of crazy stuff.
One player acts out a word, phrase, movie title, person, or pretty much anything they can think of and the rest of the group tries to guess what they are acting out. The player cannot speak or make any noises while acting out their charade. The player who guesses correctly gets to act out the next charade.
Here are a few ideas to get you started: Drink, Swim, Driving, Man on the moon, Cat, Tree, Singing, Baby, Crying, Eating, School, Milking a cow, Baking a cake, Birthday party, Fight, Snowman, Watching a movie, Building a sand castle.
You will need four people. If you have more than four people, the extras can be the audience who laughs and encourages the nutty behaviour.
One player stands still (Gumby) while another player (the Controller) comes up behind. The Controller makes Gumby move by arranging Gumby’s arms, legs, and head. The other two players are a Gumby and Controller too. While the Controllers are moving the Gumbys around, the two Gumbys try to have a conversation that makes sense with what their bodies are doing.
Improv Freeze Tag
Improv or Improvisation is a form of drama/acting. Instead of having a script to tell the actors and actresses what to do, the actors and actresses make it up as they go. It can be silly and also very challenging!
You will need at least five people.
Two to three players stand on ‘the stage’ and start improvising a conversation or activity for the rest of the group. They may have been given a theme, activity, or idea by the group to get them started. (Some ideas: a wedding, breaking up with a boyfriend, grocery shopping, meeting a new friend, digging a hole—it can be anything you can think of!)
Once the group gets going, someone from the audience yells, “freeze!” The actors ‘freeze’ (stop what they are doing and hold their position) and the audience member who yelled ‘freeze’ replaces someone on stage and then they all continue with the acting. The player who has been replaced joins the audience. There can be as many ‘freezes’ as the group wants or until the group wants to go with a new idea.
Honey, Please Smile
You will need at least four people for this game.
One player tries to make one of the other players smile. To do this they need to go up to someone in the group and say, “Honey, if you love me will you please smile?” They are not allowed to say anything else, but they can be funny in other ways. The player who has been asked must reply, “I am sorry, but I don’t love you”. They cannot smile. If they smile, they have to trade places.
Materials needed: music, chairs, and at least five people
Place the chairs in a circle (one chair for each person, minus one chair), with the backs of the chairs together so the seats face out. One player is in charge of the music, the others try to find a chair to sit on when the music stops.
When the music person turns the music on, the players walk around the chairs. Without looking at the players, the music person randomly turns off the music. As soon as the music stops, everyone tries to quickly sit down. Whoever is left without a chair when the music stops is out. After each round, take one chair out. Keep playing until there is only one player left. The person who lands on that chair when the music stops is the winner.
VARIATIONS: Squeeze in Musical Hula Hoop. Instead of using chairs, place a hoop or towel in the center. When the music stops, everyone tries to squeeze onto the towel or into the hoop. Can they do it?
You will need 3-8 players, a spoon for each player (minus one player), and two decks of cards.
Spoons are placed in the middle of the table where everyone can reach them. One spoon per player, minus one player. So, if you have 4 players, put out 3 spoons.
The point of the game is to try and get four of a kind.
The dealer deals everyone 5 cards. The dealer starts the game by discarding one card to their right. They then pick up one card to replace their discarded card from the pick up pile beside them so they have 5 cards again. (The pick up pile is the rest of the deck that was not dealt out.) The person to their right discards a card to the person on their right before picking up the discarded card from the dealer. If they want the card discarded from the dealer, they keep it, if not, they discard it.
And around the circle it goes. The last person in the circle leaves their discarded cards in a big discard pile–the dealer does not pick up from that pile.
Everyone must discard a card before picking up a card so they never have more than 5 cards in their hand and never less than 4.
When someone has managed to collect 4 of one card (for example: 4 queens), they grab a spoon from the middle of the table. As soon as one player grabs for a spoon, everyone else does too. The player who does not get a spoon, gets an “S” from the word “spoon.” When you have collected all the letters from the word “spoon” you are out of the game.
If someone grabs a spoon by mistake, they get a letter.
As players leave the game, they take a spoon with them.
Players, once out, stay out until there is only one player left–the winner.
Variations: Instead of collecting a letter, players who didn’t get a spoon simply ‘don’t win’ and can continue on playing and playing.
Children hold hands in a circle. As they sing the song, they go around in the circle. At “all fall down” they fall down. If playing with the variation they stand up at “stand up.”
The song: Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies. Husha, husha, we all fall down.
Variation to add: Cows in the meadow, eating buttercups. Husha, husha, we all stand up!
London Bridge is Falling Down Tic-Tac-Toe (also called Xs and Os)
Say and do whatever the other person says or does. Say and do whatever the other person says or does.
Penny Rugby (also known as ‘Quarters’)
Find a friend, a table, and a quarter (or other coin).
The two players sit across from each other at a small table. One person goes first. They start with the quarter overhanging (balanced half on and half off the edge of the table) on their side of the table. They flick the quarter with their fingers or bump it with their hand. They try to get the quarter to stop just as it overhangs the edge of the other end of the table where the other player is sitting. The player (whose turn it is) can bump or flick the quarter up to 3 times to get it across the table. If the quarter goes off the table or doesn’t overhang, they do not get points and the turn goes to the other player.
If the quarter overhangs the other end of the table at any point in their turn, the flicking player gets 5 points and a chance to go to goal.
To go to goal, the player spins the quarter on the table and catches it between their thumbs while it is spinning. (If it is not caught between the thumbs, the turn ends). If it is caught, the other player makes a goalpost by placing their two thumbs together and spreading their hands out, fingers up. The player with the quarter keeps the quarter between their thumbs and ‘throws’ the quarter through the goal (2 more points). Whether it goes in or not, it is the end of this player’s turn.
War (Card Game)
You will need 2 decks of playing cards and two players.
Each player gets one deck of cards. (Make sure you shuffle them well.) Players face each other. At the same time, each player takes the top card off their deck and places it face up. Whichever player has the highest card wins the other person’s card. (Aces are the highest card, kings second, queens third, jacks fourth, tens fifth highest, etc. For example: Jo has a queen and Sally has a king. Sally wins Jo’s queen because her king is higher.)
If both players deal the same card, there is a tie and players go to war. When you go to war, each player deals four cards face down in front of them. Then, at the same time players flip the top card off their deck. The highest card wins the war and all of the laid out cards (the first two cards which were tied, the four face down cards from each player, plus the last two cards flipped over). If that is a tie as well, then you deal four cards face down again, plus flip over the top card off your deck again. When players reach the end of their deck, they use the cards they’ve won as their new deck. When one player runs out of cards completely, the game is over and the other person has won the war.
2 or more players (You can also play Memory alone.)
Lay each card in a deck of playing cards face down on the table or floor. When it is your turn, flip two cards over, keeping them in their spot on the table or floor. If they are a pair, you take them and put them in your pair pile, and go again until you don’t turn over a pair. If they are not a pair, turn them face down again. The next player now takes their turn.
Whoever makes the most number of pairs wins the game.
Family Game Night
Get the family together to play games. If you are tired of your board games, ask your parents if you can trade with a friend. You can also change or make up your own rules for the games you do have to make them new and interesting again.
Looking for more? Try these places as well:
Might I also suggest this time-saver…
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