Games seem to be the hardest. What to do that the kids will enjoy, won’t create to big a mess, will be age appropriate and proven winners. The question I get asked the most is what games to play for the little ones. Kindergartners are arguably the easiest and toughest to plan for. They are enthusiastic and excited about everything but they can be easily distracted and wild. Any game needs to be quick moving, involve large groups of people and not to messy. At this point I know everyone has visions of trying to herd cats, but trust me it can be done. You can engage these very sweet and energetic kids without creating pandemonium.
1.)The popcorn relay
This one can be done with any number of different items to run, popcorn, jelly beans, cotton balls to name a few. You need several small trash cans or buckets, several large spoons and the item to be transferred. Popcorn is fun and cheap but can be quite messy. I found jelly beans or other small candies work just as well and are not nearly as difficult to pick up afterwards. The staff will definitely appreciate the use of candy versus popcorn come clean up time. Simply divide the class into several equal teams. I found about 4-6 people per team works best. Each team will get a full bucket of candy and an empty bucket. They will also be given one large spoon. The race starts as one member of each team puts as many candies as they can on each spoon and runs it to the empty bucket at the other end of the classroom. The child runs back and tags the next child in line. The relay continues until the once full bucket is now empty. If the buckets are large this game will typically take 10 minutes to complete.
2.)Mummy Wrap/Gift Wrap
This one requires very little in the way of supplies. You can use toilet paper for the fall or leftover gift wrap for winter. Include bows, yarn, spiders, candy corn, whatever would be fun to add to the wrapped child. If you are making a “mummy” use plastic spiders, candy corn or glow sticks. If you are wrapping a “gift” use bows, yarn, confetti, christmas ornaments or tinsel. This is a great use of leftover Christmas paper and wrapping materials. Divide the class into teams, 4-6 per team works best. If you have any more than that there are to many kids wrapping and wildness ensues. One child is selected as the “mummy or gift” and the others are the wrappers. The goal of the game is to use all the wrapping supplies before the other teams. A fun variation of this game is to find a kids Winter or Fall rap CD and play it during the wrapping process. When the music stops whichever team is the furthest along is the winner. This game takes typically 5-10 minutes to explain and complete depending on the amount of supplies used.
3.)Guess How Many
A time tested game for sure. You simply need a large clear glass bowl, vase and enough candies, buttons or beads to fill it. Fill the vase with whatever items are appropriate to the season. Candy corns or small pumpkin candies for the fall, candy hearts or red hots for February and silver, red, gold balls or Hersey kisses for the winter. The kids simply need to guess how many items are in the bowl. Make sure you count the candies as you place them in the bowl the night before. Have a parent record each child’s guess. The child closest to the actual number wins. This is a good game to use as a station game, meaning it can be used at the same time as other crafts or activities. This game usually takes the whole party to cycle kids through but does not take much of each individual child’s time. Teachers like this game as well as it introduces the children to estimation.
Who hasn’t played this game. This is great because you can play as many rounds as needed, it doesn’t require any set up or materials and the kids love it. Make sure you have many phrases pre-made however as this age group has a tendency to be quite silly if left to pick their own phrases. You will get a large number of bodily function jokes. I use phrases such as “The Silly snowman slid down the hideous hill on his way home.” Rhyming phrases and phrases with similar sounding words and lots of consonance make for the best telephone phrases. The children should sit in a circle and the first child should be whispered the phrase by the adult leader. The child then leans to his neighbor and whispers the phrase as they heard it. The game continues until the last child is whispered the phrase. They then say out loud what they heard. This game is great because it is a real time waster. Use this game at the end of parties to use the last couple of party minutes up. It can be used for as short or as long a period of time as needed depending on number of phrases used.
Everyone loves a good Bingo game. You can make your own Bingo cards for the season or holiday or buy them pre-made. I have done both. The pre-made ones are usually not expensive and definitely will save you time. Here is a site I have used before to purchase pre-made cards and tokens. You can make your own however as long as you have a computer, printer and a whole lot of patience. Remember if you make you own you need to also make tokens or balls to pull out to announce the next letter and object. Kindergartners are a tricky bunch as some can read and others can not. Use cards that have more letters or more pictures depending on how advanced the class is and where in the school year this game will be used. If you use this game in the Fall I would use pictures only except for the top word which could be CANDY or GHOST. This game takes a lot of time and is relatively quiet in the classroom but you will need lots of parent help. You will need a parent to draw the Bingo tokens, and about 1 parent per 4 children. Teachers like this game as it reinforces what they are already learning, does not create any mess and is very quiet. This game typically takes 10-15 minutes to play.
Game winners can win small trinkets like themed pencils, markers or erasers, candy, or glow bracelets, necklaces or pins. These can be purchased in bulk cheaply from and stored for the next party.
There are hundreds of sites out there with great information. I have included a few below. The five games listed above I have used myself with my oldest and plan to use again with my little one. These games are for sure winners which do not require a great deal of money to set up and are flexible on time. The key to this grade is stay flexible and have a Plan B, C and D as necessary. Keep the party moving and the kids active and it will be a huge success.