Parachutes are the ultimate in the “toys for all ages” category. From tots to seniors, there are so many games to play with them. Parachutes also come in multiple sizes so can be used with as few as two people and as many as a hundred!
They’re a perfect, colourful toy to play with inside or out—and they’re pretty affordable, starting at about $25. Not only will kids be moving and shaking (literally), they’ll also be learning a lot about cooperation. Here are 10 games to try with your kids.
1. The Mushroom
While the vegetable might not appeal to all, the game of Mushroom definitely will!
To make a mushroom, lie the parachute flat on the ground and spread the kids out evenly around it. With each child holding a handle, have them pull the parachute so that it’s tight between them all. On the count of three, have the kids raise the parachute above their head and take two quick steps toward the centre. The parachute will rise upwards and fill with air like a giant mushroom.
Once the mushroom is fully inflated, kids can let go of the handles, step back, and watch the mushroom float to the floor or they can dash under the mushroom and let it float onto themselves. Warning: this is sure to elicit very excited laughs!
2. The Wave
It’s not just for stadiums and arenas! Have kids hold one or two handles and move their arms up and down. Like water in the ocean, the parachute will move in waves. Shake the parachute slowly for small waves and quickly for giant ones.
3. All Change
Get ready for a game of switcheroo! Have your kids spread themselves evenly around the parachute and each take hold of a handle. As the kids lift the parachute high above them, call out a detail that some players will have in common. Whichever players share that detail must run and trade places with each other before the parachute falls.
Examples could include: everyone wearing a blue shirt, everyone with a birthday in April, everyone with a fish, everyone who’s left-handed, etc.
Hold the butter and serve up some fun! Lay the parachute on the ground and place light objects such as balls or stuffies in the centre. Have the kids pick up one or two handles and on the count of three, begin shaking the parachute up and down. The toys will bounce up like popping popcorn! Can the kids work together to keep the toys from bouncing off the parachute?
5. Parachute Treasure Hunt
Spread a large number of small toys on the ground and place a parachute evenly over them. As kids make waves with the parachute, call out one of the children’s names and the toy they must find. The child must climb quickly under the parachute, find that toy and crawl back out before the parachute falls on them. Keep playing until everyone has had a turn to find a toy.
6. Ball in the Middle
Time to work on a whole lot of patience and cooperation! Place one ball on the parachute and have the kids see if they can move it to the middle of the parachute and keep it balanced there. Once they can do that consistently, add one or more balls. Can they keep them all balanced in the middle?
7. Merry Go Round
Head to the carnival for an all-time favourite ride! Have the kids hold a handle with their right hands so they’re all facing in one direction. Start by having them walk in that direction and on cue (could be your voice or a pause in music if you’re playing some), have them take the handle in their left hand and walk in the opposite direction. Can they skip in a circle with the parachute? Jog slowly?
8. Avoid the Snakes!
Keep clear of the scaly serpents! Put 3 or 4 skipping ropes (the snakes) on the parachute and have the kids make waves. As the snakes bounce around the parachute, kids want to keep them away from themselves. If they get touched by a snake, they must run around the parachute and back to their spot.
9. Parachute Volleyball
This parachute game requires a whole lot of teamwork.
Split the kids into two even teams of three to six players and have them stand on opposite sides of a volleyball net. One team begins with a large ball such as a beach ball or oversized ball on their parachute. The team has two bounces on the parachute to launch the ball over the net.
The opposing team must catch the ball in their parachute, and they have three bounces to get the ball back over the net. If the ball falls on the ground or is hit out of bounds, the opposing team gets a point. Players are not allowed to use their hands.
10. Wheels on the Bus
There are so many movements kids can use with a parachute while singing the always-popular Wheels on the Bus song. Starting with: “The wheels on the bus go round and round,” kids can walk in a circle holding one handle of the parachute.
On the next verse, kids can walk towards each other and back while singing: “The doors on the bus go open and shut.” Kids can walk backwards with: “The driver on the bus says move on back,” or wave the parachute as they sing: “The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.”
What other ways do your kids like to play with parachutes?