I have hosted a few backyard birthday parties for my eight year old son, and have tried many different games to keep the kids engaged and having fun. In addition to having some fun games planned I think it helps to allow for free time where the kids can just run around and have fun. I always have a few indoor games planned too – just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
I break the kids up into a couple of groups and have them rotate between the games, assuming you have enough helpers to run the game – it cuts down “standing in line time” These games are age appropriate for 5+ year olds and most use items you probably have around the house! Use your own judgment to decide if they are right for your age group.
Here are some of our favorite games:
The Skittles Vacuum Competition
What you’ll need for the game:
Straws (no accordion bend – make sure a skittle can’t fit through the straw
A large bag of skittles
One or more large tray
Small plastic cups – with the kids name on them
Have the kids sit around a table (we used the picnic table). Place two trays filled with the skittles in the middle of the table. If you have a lot of children at the party you may need more trays so they don’t bump heads. Give each child a plastic cup and a straw. The goal of this game is to see who can use the straw to suck a skittle to the end of the straw and place it in the cup in a certain amount of time. They can’t use their hands. You can make it harder by assigning each child a specific color of skittle to collect. When the game is over, put each child’s skittles in the Ziploc bag and place them in their goody bags.
Bed sheet Ring Toss
What you’ll need for the game:
A large bed sheet – one with out a pattern works better.
3-4 Large Glow sticks (the large size)
Assorted small trinket prizes – maybe 3-4 per child (we use hot-wheels, silly bands, small plastic animals or even small packages of candy)
Lay the sheet out on the lawn and spread the prizes randomly around on the sheet. Take the glow stick necklaces and make a large hoop of each one. Then let each child take a turn trying to toss the ring around the prizes. If they get one in their hoop it’s theirs to keep.
Squirt Gun Shoot-Out
What you’ll need to play this game:
Large plastic cups
Squirt Guns- and a source of water to fill them
Stack the cups on the table making a pyramid shape. Mark off a spot where the child should stand, don’t make it too easy! Then let them try to shoot the cups down.
Super Soapy Foot Grip
Here’s what you’ll need to play this game:
A small pool filled with soapy water – the more bubbles the better
20 or more small objects – we used plastic dinosaurs
Have the child sit on a chair next to the pool and stick their feet in. The goal is to grab as many of the objects with their feet as possible in one minute. The bubbles help conceal the exact location of the objects so make sure it’s soapy! If you pool is large enough you could have 2-3 kids play at once.
You could also have a few standard games like limbo or water balloon toss to fill in the time. At last years party we had the kids make very their own tie-dye t-shirts, which we delivered a few days later.
Another neat trick you can do is take a picture of everyone at the party – maybe at cake time or before a game (try to get everyone in the shot) and have the photo made into a postcard that you can use for the thank-you note.