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Let’s party! Go low tech with some high energy indoor and outdoor party games for kids. With many ways to customize to your theme, these games are winners for toddlers to practically teens.

Outdoor Party Games for Kids

The Dragon’s Tail

In this traditional Chinese game, kids form a single line and grab hold of the person’s waist in front of them. The last one in line puts a scarf in his or her pocket or waistband, trailing it like a tail. To play, the dragon’s head (first in line) tried to grab the tail of the last in line without anyone breaking the line chain. The middle section tries to prevent the head from reaching the tail, making it a tug-of-war of sorts. Once the head catches the tail, the next in line becomes the head and the game starts again. This one is great for big groups of kids.

Balloon Pop

Blow up an equal number of balloons in two colors. Tie a ribbon around the end of each balloon and fasten the ribbon around each kid’s ankle. The balloon color indicates which team each guest is on. Start a timer for five minutes, during which kids try to stomp the opposing teams’ balloons. The winning team pops the most balloons before the timer runs out. It’s active, noisy fun!

Art Walk

Tell the kids to dress for messy fun and bring a dry change of clothes. Lay out rolls of craft paper or poster board in your driveway or other flat area outside your home. Pour non-toxic paint into disposable pans, large enough to stand in. Play your birthday kid’s favorite upbeat tunes and let the kids create a masterpiece as they dance, jump, or walk across the paper with paint-dipped feet! Some kids may want to dip hands as well and crawl or crab walk across the canvas. Use a garden hose for clean up! After it dries, the artwork can be divided into pieces as party favors for each guest. The birthday child keeps the rest as a memento.

Sock or Sponge Pass

In warmer months, go for a wet relay! Get two buckets and fill with water and two objects that hold water well, like thick clean socks or sponges. Have the kids stand in two parallel lines with the water bucket in front of each line. On your count, the first in line takes the wet object from bucket and passes it back over her head to the next kid, who passes it through his legs behind him. The line continues to pass over-under as quickly as possible. The line that finishes first is the winning team. The next person in line starts the next round, and everyone gets splashed all over again.

Archaeologist Dig

Using a sand table, sandbox or designated area of your yard, hide sharks teeth, fossils and other relics in the sand. Make this as elaborate as you’d like, giving kids a back story for where they’re digging or giving them impressive names and archaeology credentials on nametags or lanyards. Give each kid a small plastic shovel or rake and set them loose to search for the goods. Provide small plastic bags to let them keep their loot. Customize this game for your kids’ interests. They could also be pirates searching for buried treasure or princesses looking for missing crown jewels.

Tribal Scramble

Divide guests into four groups, named according to your party theme. For example, if it’s Olympic Games, choose a sport for each group. Or, make it easy and call each group a color. When everyone knows which tribe they’re in, along with the names of all the other tribes, have them stand in a circle. Choose one player to stand in the middle of the circle. He or she calls out one of the tribe names. Everyone in that group needs to switch places with another member of their tribe while the player in the middle tries to steal a spot in the circle. The player left without a spot becomes “it.” He enters the center of the circle and a new round begins.

Indoor Party Games for Kids

Catch the Story

Invite kids to stand or sit in a circle. Start with one child holding a soft ball. He or she begins a story, but shares only a few sentences. The ball is then thrown to another kid in the circle who adds a few lines to the story. The story gets wilder as each kid receives the ball and adds on to the tall tale. Be sure everyone has had at least one turn before calling for “The End.”

Friend BINGO

Create BINGO cards based on things you know about  guests or that generally apply to kids in the group. For example, one square might be, find someone who owns a pet bird. Or, find someone who has traveled outside of the U.S. This is an especially good game when all the guests don’t know each other. Set a timer for enough time for the kids to mingle, based on how many participants are there. When a player finds someone who completes a square, they ask them to sign their name in it. The first one to completely black out their card is the winner.

Table Art

This is great sensory play! Cover a table with plain shaving cream. Note: If you’re worried about your table finish, cover with a cheap plastic tablecloth, but be sure to secure the ends to the table. Sprinkle the shaving cream with some drops of food coloring. Then give each child a craft stick and let them express their artistic sides making patterns, shapes and colorful swirls in the shaving cream. If you’re worried some kids may try to taste, you can substitute non-dairy whipped topping or vanilla pudding.

Upcycled Inventions

Divide kids into groups (size of groups depends on number of guests) in random fashion to create equal teams. Each team receives an envelope of identical support items, like rubber bands, tape, kid scissors and/or glue dots. Have a large bin or two of recyclable items like cardboard towel rolls, cereal boxes, paper bags, magazines and yogurt cups. Invite each group to choose three recyclable items and then, as a team, they decide what invention they’ll create from the materials. Give a 15-minute time limit so no one gets bored. Then, have each team present their inventions to the whole party.

What’s Missing?

Put about 10 objects on a tray. Make them easily identifiable, like a comb, a spoon, a package of candy, etc. Let everyone in the room see the tray for one minute. Then, cover it and remove one item. Have the group guess what’s missing. The one who guesses correctly gets to come help remove the next item. Turns continue until there is just one item left.

Smart Phone Scavenger Hunt

Put together a simple list of items to find, like something soft, something yellow, something smaller than a quarter. Divide the kids into teams of three or four and provide them with a copy of the list. Set a time limit for completing the challenge and ask for photos of each item (so they don’t take things from their places) to prove they were found.

A Word about Winning

Winning isn’t what it’s really about! While you can give small prizes if you choose, you can also make a prize universal. For example, when a team wins a game, the prize is the birthday dessert that everyone shares. Or, the end of a game “unlocks” the start of a next activity that everyone participates in.

Awesome Indoor and Outdoor Party Games for Kids
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