Planning a party for your kids can be a daunting task. You want to make it a super celebration but where to start? How will you keep the kids entertained, happy, AND moving?
The recipe for the best parties starts with a theme. Once you’ve got that, you can plan the rest. Snacks, decor, and games will fall into place. Bored kid? Not on your watch!
1. Pirate party
Take to the sea with these fun and completely non-scallywag games.
Pirates love to plunder (a.k.a. steal). In this game, though, kids have your permission to find the loot! Pick up toy gold coins (available at party stores or online on many sites), and hide them around your party area before the kids arrive.
Coins can be hidden behind trees, under towels, on top of chairs, inside empty plant pots, or, if your guests are cleared to get dirty, in sandboxes. Give each kid a shovel and pail and set them off in search of treasure. How many riches can the kids gather in a certain amount of time?
Note: It’s probably best to play this game at the beginning of the party so that the coins aren’t discovered before the game is played!
Walk the Plank
In this much more kid-friendly version of walking the plank, see if your party guests can balance across a beam without falling into the “water” below. Make your own plank by making a line with painter’s tape or chalk or place one long plank of wood flat on the ground and place a blue tarp under the plank as the “water.” If it’s a hot day and your adventurers are willing to get wet, place the plank over a kids’ pool filled with real water.
Fire in the Hole!
Make sure your little pirates stay safe from rival pirates by avoiding cannonballs fired at their ships. Give one or two children a small number of soft “cannonballs,” such as foamy nerf balls or rolled-up socks, and line up the rest of the kids a short distance away. The kids with the cannonballs are the enemy pirates! Have them roll the balls quickly towards the other pirates at ground level and see if they can avoid the balls by jumping over them.
In this nautical game of Simon Says, pirates must obey orders from the captain of the ship! If the leader says, “Captain Says…” followed by an order and the pirates obey the order, they get to stay in the game. But if the captain shouts a command without saying, “Captain Says,” and a pirate performs the task, they’re out. Have the kids take turns being the captain.
Orders can include:
Abandon ship! – Pick a safe spot where the kids have to run
Scrub the deck – Kids drop down and pretend to clean the floor
Hoist the mast – Kids pretend to raise a flag, hand over hand
Pirate jig – With a yo, ho, ho (but no bottle of rum), kids can do their favourite pirate dance
Haul up the anchor – Kids pretend to pull up the heavy weight, hand over hand
2. Beach party
Bring the beach to your backyard with these fun-in-the-sun games. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
How low can you go? Have two players or adults hold a long rope or pool noodle and have the others line up behind. With fun beach music playing, have the kids bend backwards and pass under the bar without touching it. Once each of the kids has managed to pass under, lower the bar and have the kids try again. To keep more kids engaged, allow them to choose the height and see how many times in a row the can go.
Hula hoops are a must for any day at the beach! Provide each child with a hula hoop and have them see how many different ways they can spin them around. Can they twist them on their hips, arms, or feet? And for more ideas, check out this list of 7 things to do with a hula hoop.
Musical Beach Towels
The old go-to game of musical chairs takes on a whole new beachy twist. Lay a line of towels (one less for the number of kids playing) on grass or another soft surface. Space the towels out to avoid accidental jostling injuries! While music is playing, have the kids walk around the towels in a circle. When the person controlling the music stops it, players must hustle to a towel and sit. Since there’s one less towel than there are kids, one child won’t get a towel to sit on and will be out of the game. Remove a towel and begin again. Repeat until one player is left.
Keep the Beach Ball Up
Who doesn’t love a bright and airy beach ball? The object of this game is pretty simple. Keep that beach ball up! But how long can the ball stay up? Have one child throw the ball in the air to start the game. The next child then bats it up and so on and so on. Count the number of times the kids strike the ball before it falls. Make the game more challenging by having the kids stand in a circle and join hands. Without breaking the circle, how long can they work together to keep the ball afloat? And while you’re at it, why not try out Beach Ball Handball too?
3. Superhero party
Kids love to pretend that they’re superheroes! They’re strong, they’re fast, and they have super-cool powers! And by playing the following games, they’ll have fun in a flash.
Superhero obstacle course
Challenge your party guests to see if they can run faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, and leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Set up a course with items such as pails with sand in them for lifting, cones to run around, pool noodles to jump over, kiddie tunnels to crawl through, a line of hula hoops to jump into one at a time, or a balance beam to walk across. Even better, have the kids set up their own course.
Superman and Superwoman can’t touch kryptonite or they’ll lose their powers! Have your party guests keep kryptonite “rocks” away to keep themselves safe.
Attach a “safe zone” to a fence or wall. This can be a large circle drawn with chalk, a hula hoop taped up firmly, or a square made with painter’s tape.
Provide the kids with balls, preferably green or red to simulate the colour of kryptonite. Line the kids up and have them take turns either kicking or shooting, using a hockey stick or pool noodle, to get the kryptonite balls out out danger’s way.
Defeat the Villains
Print out the faces of several villains from the internet (or use a marker to draw them if you’re far more artistic than I am) and attach them to empty water bottles, tin cans (chips cans are a great size), or kiddie bowling pins.
Give your guests small soft balls and have them send Lex Luthor and The Joker down for the count!
Elastigirl freeze dance
Elastigirl is a superhero who can stretch and bend any part of her body in many ways.
Have your guests think up all kinds of ways to show their flexibility. Put on some superhero music (I love “Spiderman” by the Ramones). Every so often, stop the music. When it stops, kids have to bend into different shapes. Prepare for some giggles!
Embrace your child’s party-animal side and have fun with creatures great and small.
Pick one child to begin and either give them an animal (whisper the name of it into their ear) or have them pick one themselves. Can the rest of the kids figure out which animal they’re acting out?
Have kids spread out across a play space. Go through a list of animals and their movements before the game begins. Can the kids gallop like a horse? Hop like a frog? Slither like a snake? Flutter and fly like a butterfly? Crawl like a bear? Swing their trunks like an elephant? Act like a monkey (monkey noises make this pose the most fun!)?
Start by calling out the name of one animal and have the kids move like that animal around the play area. When you call out a new animal, kids have to switch their actions and become a whole new creature.
Pin the Tail on the ….
What better time to go old-school with a good old game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or the Pig, or the Zebra, or the Bunny? The options are as unlimited as the number of species in the world (there are over eight million according to some scientists’ estimates so you have a lot to choose from!).
Use a large piece of bristol board and draw the animal of your choice, leaving out its tail. You can also download a picture of the animal, send it to your local office supply store, and have them enlarge it for you. As a non-artist, this is my greatest tip for this game! Post the animal picture firmly to a wall at kids’ eye-level.
Provide a tail for each child. Tails can be made by cutting out paper shapes or by using ribbons. Put a strong piece of tape on each tail and give each child their own colour of tail so you can remember which one belongs to which child. Use a bandana to cover their eyes and direct them towards the animal to guess where the tail belongs and have them stick it to the board. Which child will get the tail closest to the animal’s end?
The Chicken Has Lost her Eggs!
Set up a post as a “hen.” This is your chance to be as creative (or not!) as you wish. Place a bucket in front of the hen. Give each child a plastic egg, ping-pong or golf ball and a spoon or plastic shovel. Explain to them that the hen has lost all of her eggs and needs to get them back.
Divide the kids into two lines and have them run, one at a time, from a start line to the hen make clucking noises as they go. For older kids, have them flap one arm as they run. Which team can get their eggs back to the hen first?
Outer space party
Outer space is so cool for kids. Looking at the billions of stars in the night sky, children are often inspired to shoot for the moon, and dream of even walking on it one day.
Ring around Saturn
Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system. A fun fact you can share with your kids: You could fit 764 planets the size of Earth inside Saturn! Saturn is also surrounded by many, many rings (the internet isn’t in agreement on the number). Set up a ball or cone to represent Saturn. Have your party guests take turns tossing hula hoops to try to make rings around the planet.
Reach for the Sky
Make stars and planets out of heavy cardboard and tape them to a wall or fence at different heights. Have each child jump to see how many planets and stars they can touch.
Want your guests to feel like astronauts walking on the moon? Using elastic bands, attach sponges 2-3″ thick on each kids’ two feet and have them feel like they’re floating in space. Note: It’s best to use these on a soft surface in case your little astronaut falls into a crater.
Choose two or three kids to be aliens. The rest of the kids are astronauts trying to steer clear of the aliens. On the count of three, aliens chase the astronauts around a play area. When an astronaut is tagged, they have to freeze in space. Once all the astronauts have been tagged, choose new kids to be aliens and begin again.
Whether your guests are pirates, beach babies, superheroes, animals, or astronauts, there are so many ways to get them engaged and moving.