by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Organising party games for very young children is a challenge. This is because by nature, children of that age are restless, and easily distractible. Still, there are some party games that are sure to catch the attention of any child. Here are top ten party games for very young children:
This game, which needs a little preparation before the party, helps children to get acquainted and form partnerships for some of the games to come. The party organiser cuts out pictures of animals from magazines and then cuts each picture in half. Each child is given half a picture and then, at a signal, all scurry about to find their partners – which is done by matching halves to form a whole animal. When all children have found their partners, everyone claps. This game boosts the children’s social skills and self-confidence.
Five children are chosen as the net and the others become the fish. The children who form the net can join hands in a line. When the party organiser calls out “Swim, fish, swim”, the players who make up the net move about the playing area with hands joined and try to capture as many fish as possible by surrounding them. The fish that are caught become part of the net and the game continues until all the fish have been caught. The last five fish caught become the new net.
This game is a guaranteed winner at a party of children who have not yet started school. Before the party, prepare the parcel by wrapping a small present in the centre, then sealing each layer of paper with sticky tape. Put a little gift in every second or third layer so that a number of children will receive one. At the party the children sit in a circle and, as the music plays, they pass the parcel from one to another. When the music stops, the child with the parcel unwraps one layer, keeping any gift that he might find. An adult should start and stop the music so that the gifts are distributed as evenly as possible. The game ends when the parcel is completely unwrapped and the final gift won. To prevent chaos at the end, an adult or older child should collect the unwrapped paper as the game goes along.
Children are given paper plates and line up at one end of the room; a small square is marked off at the other end. The party organiser demonstrates how to throw a discus with the hand flat. Each child is given three tries to throw his plate in the square. The child who comes closest to the bull’s eye wins.
Each child takes off both shoes and places them in a large box in the centre of the room. While the organiser mixes up the shoes in the box, the children form a large circle around it. At a signal, they all run forward, find their own shoes and put them on. The first child to come to the leader with the shoes on, and tied or buckled, wins the game.
Children form a circle and one child is chosen as Jerry the mouse. He creeps around the outside of the circle and touches one of the children on the shoulder. The one touched, Tom the cat, chases Jerry around the circle back to his place. If the mouse is touched, he carries on as before, and the cat goes back to the circle. If not, the cat becomes the new mouse.
This is a game for the very young, who can be so unsteady with their hands that they give everybody else a laugh. You need a set of coloured plastic stacking beakers, and a rubber ball. The children are asked to sit on the floor in a circle. You put the largest beaker in the centre. One child is given a beaker one size smaller and is asked to put it on the first beaker. The next child is given the next beaker in size and so on. The ball is balanced on the last and the smallest beaker. If it stays in place all the children clap their hands.
The party organiser hides nuts, any kind will do, in every possible nook and cranny of the room – under cushions, in drawers, behind doors and curtains, in ash-trays, and on top of the books. Each child has a plastic dish or a cup and sets out in search of them. The children may hunt as individuals or divide up into small teams. The game ends after the search has continued for 5 minutes, and the child or the team with the most nuts is the winner.