ANSWER: I love games that can be played anytime you need a fun and spontaneous activity for little ones. I also love games that build skills, character, and relationships. Here are 11 of our favorite “Anywhere Games” that children Ages 2.5 and up really love. None of these games require much planning, reading, or small game pieces, so you can play them anywhere and anytime you need to entertain children of all ages. The most you will need is a pencil, paper, and stuffed animal or toys that you already have. A few of these games can be played with no props at all, just imagination and conversation.
1. What do you like best?
Little Children love to ask questions, and they love to answer questions too. So we made up a game where we take turns asking questions that help us get to know each child better, and we laugh a lot!
To Play: I ask the first question: “Joseph, what do you like best: Bubbles or Squirt Guns?”
He will give his answer, and then it is his turn, and he will ask someone else in the group his question: “Anna, what do you like best planets or watermelons?” Then Anna will ask another child “What do you like best lunch or breakfast?” Then that child will ask another child a question: “What do you like best cookies or cake?” “Green or Blue?” “Trees of Flowers?” “Snow or Sand?” This game is endless. You may need to tell the kids the rules, we only have on: No Potty Talk.
2. Should We?
I made up this game for Joseph to help him to learn right and wrong, and to make good choices in a variety of unexpected situations. This game can also bring lots of laughs! Once again it is a game of questions. My kids love to come up to me and say “Let’s play Should We!”
To Play: Just ask questions to make your child think about the right thing to do in an interesting or everyday situation. Sometimes the kids will enjoy making up their own questions.
“Joseph should eat someone else’s cookie?”
“Should we play in the road?”
“Should we eat dirt?”
“Should we eat carrots?”
“Should we put the cat in the bathtub?”
“Should we hit little babies?”
“Should we help mommy sweep the floor?”
“Should we make cookies with grandma?”
“Should we put cookie dough on grandma’s windows?”
3. Family Questions (You can play this with any group, the kids love hearing the answers that the adults give too!)
We usually play this conversational game at the dinner table. With a family of 11 this one can take a lot of time. It also helps everyone to get to know each other. Once again it is a Questions Games.
To Play: Mom or dad usually asks the first question, and everyone takes turns giving their answer. We usually only get through 3 questions at a meal. One Rule: No "Yes or No" questions.
We ask questions like these:
“What would you buy if you had $20?”
“What country would you go to if you could go anywhere?”
“What is the most beautiful animal?”
“What do you think we should have for dinner tomorrow?”
“Name one important thing you should think about before you marry someone?”
“If you could have any super power what would it be?”
“What is something you like about the person to your right?”
4. Drawing on the Ceiling
My husband plays this game when he tucks in the kids at night. He points to the ceiling with his finger and draws a picture or writes a letter. The kids try to guess what he is drawing. They all take turns drawing a picture. They can give clues like “This is an animal.”
5. What Animal is It?
My kids love learning about animals, and happen to know the sounds of many interesting and exotic creatures. All we do is take turns making an animal’s sound and the first one to guess the animal correctly gets to go next.
6. What Comes Next?
Like most parents, we read the same stories, sing the same songs, and repeat the same rhymes and Bible verses over and over with each child. Once the words of the story or verse are familiar to the child I will give the child a chance to finish each line. Children ages 2 to 5 love this. When you are teaching or entertaining a group of children use this activity when telling a story or memorizing a verse. With older children you can increase the number of words for them to fill in until the child can recite the entire verse alone. This works well for groups, because the children can all shout out the missing words together.
“For God so loved the _____________.”
“Mary had a little _________.”
“How much is that doggie in the ______________.”
“In the great green room there was a telephone and a red _______________.”
"Jesus Loves ____ This I ________."
Traditional Games for Little Ones:
Those are the games we made up with our children, though I’m sure they are not original, they are our favorites! And you don’t need to buy anything, and there are no losers, like in musical chairs.
7. I spy – The child says “I see something blue” and everyone tries to guess what it is, winner goes next.
8. Telephone – When you have 5 people or more everyone sits in a circle and one person whispers a sentence into the ear of the person to their right. Everyone passes along the message, the last person says the sentence loudly to the whole group, and everyone laughs.
9. Hot or Cold – Mom hides a toy in the room, and the child tries to find it. Mom gives a clue – as they move towards the location of the hidden toy mom says “Warmer... Warmer... Hot!” Then is the child veers in the wrong direction mom says “You are getting colder... colder... freezing... you are turning into an ice cube!” My mom played this game with me when I was little. This works best with just one child.
10. Nature Scavenger Hunt – Give each team (or player) a list of items (words or pictures) that can be found in a park or back yard, and a bag to collect the items. Everyone goes looking for common items like:
Twig shaped like a letter
Something that smells good
Set a timer if you want to. When everyone finds their items, gather the group together to see each collection. When you are finished with the hunt, you can use the found items to play memory, what is missing, sorting games, matching games!
11. Memory - Collect an assortment of any 7 to 10 items. Arrange all the items on a tray, everyone looks at the objects and tries to remember each one. Take the tray away and remove one item. Who can be the first to remember what is missing? That player gets to remove the next item.
Just for You:
12. Mommy Questions - Wait! I thought there were only 11. Well, this game is for you.
To Play: Write your "Mommy Question" for me in the comments section, and when I (a mom of ten) have some free time I will post my answer.
Here are some of the Mommy Questions that I will be answering in the near future:
1. How do you deal with sibling rivalry?
2. What methods do you and your husband use to discipline your children?
3. Do you make special time to spend with your older daughters? If so, how?
4. What does homeschooling a kindergartner look like at your home?
5. How does a mom find her limit with time spent online? (Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!) Or should we even spend our precious time on such things?
6. Please share some tips on how to find alone time with your husband, even to just talk without little people around who always need to be a part of your conversations :)
7. How do you manage to give equal amounts of time and attention to your husband and to the children?
By Sarah Janisse Brown - Homeschooling Mom of 10, and author of "Windows to Our World"
Windows to our World will keep you turning the pages and wondering what the Lord could possibly have in store next for the Brown Family. The journal entries and poetry woven throughout the book also provide a more personal glimpse into Sarah’s inspiration as a wife, mother, artist, home educator, and entrepreneur. Don’t miss this epic adventure story of God’s love and providence in one family’s life. Review by Charity Singleton Craig, co-author of On Being a Writer (Dec. 2014, TS Poetry Press) and editor of Windows to our World. Start Reading!