Believe it or not, it is possible to unglue kids from their DS, computer or phone! What you need is games that keep them so entertained they forget all about screens for a bit. (Yes, really!)
If you can round up a few friends (or siblings and their pals to make up the numbers), there are plenty of games that will do just that – and even provide them with healthy exercise and fresh air. And while they’re having fun, they’ll be learning all sorts of useful social skills into the bargain. Here are five kids games to get you started.
Hide and seek with torches: best for twilight on a winter’s afternoon or a sleepover party.
- Everyone hides except for the person who is ‘It.’
- The ‘It’ has a torch. Decide in advance whether the ‘It’ is allowed to switch the torch off to conceal their approach or whether they must keep it on to warn others and give them the opportunity to change their hiding place.
- A big garden without too many hazards is ideal, but indoors with the lights off will also work (make sure there are no breakables around).
Each child gets a paper or plastic plate piled high with cornflakes.
- Hidden in each pile is a sweet (jelly babies are perfect).
- Hands are tied behind their backs
- They dive in to find the hidden treasure.
- The winner is the first to emerge with the sweet between their teeth.
Swing the statue
Head for the garden and get swinging!
- Everyone takes turns to be ‘it’.
- The ‘it’ takes each player in turn, holding their wrist or arm, and swings them round before letting go.
- The player who has been swung round must stop moving as soon as possible and hold that position as long as they can as a statue.
- The first player to move then becomes it, and swings everyone.
- The person swung first has to hold still for the longest period, so start with the eldest to avoid tears.
- If there are enough players, divide into two teams. One team swinging, the other being statues.
All you need is a ping-pong ball and a large table.
- Split into two teams at opposite ends of the table.
- Place the ball in the centre, then blow as hard as you can to try and get the ball to the other end.
- Variations on a theme could involve flicking a scrunched-up piece of paper Subbuteo-style with your finger, or patting a small bouncy ball with your hand as if you were playing mini basketball (this could get rough, so beware of breakables!).
For something more sedate, give this a try.
- Each child gets a piece of paper.
- Every player writes a name (any name), folds the paper to hide what they’ve written and passes it on to the next player.
- Now add a second name, fold and pass on as before
- Continue in this way until you have two names, a place, two quotes and a consequence on each sheet of paper
- Now add the bits in between (‘name’ met ‘name’ at xxx. He said… She said… And the consequence was…).
- Read each aloud and chuckle at the disjointed stories.
For rainy days...
Bring the outside in and set up a ‘cuddly jungle’ in the living room.
- Drape blankets over furniture to create tree cover
- Spread appropriate animal toys around the room
- Dig out a cardboard box to create a makeshift boat to travel across the ‘Amazon’ (aka the carpet).
- Younger children will love designing a space for a hot desert on the sofa and a tropical jungle by the TV, then adding their toy animals in the right areas to create a DIY safari park.
- Older children can help provide animal sounds to create the right environment.
We’d love to hear from you
Do you have any great games that keep the family entertained?