In usual times these games would often be classified as “car games” though they have always been played on buses and trains, in kitchens and in parks. In lockdown these games can be useful to occupy young children on their daily exercise (and may convince reluctant walkers to go further). They are also handy for when you want to engage your children whilst also hanging up the washing, cooking the dinner or wherever task you need to be getting on with.
None of these games are new. You probably know most, if not all of them. However, it could be helpful to have a list of them here for when you have run out of inspiration…
I went to the supermarket and I bought…
This game builds vocabulary, close listening and memory skills. You can play it with two or more people. The first person begins “I went to the supermarket and I bought…a banana (or fish fingers/bubble bath/Lego etc”. You can add any item you want. The next person continues “I went to the supermarket and I bought a banana and…a pint of milk”. Each turn you repeat the items already said and add one new one. How far can you go?
An easier variation is to add the items in alphabetical order (an apple, biscuits, carrots, dog food etc). This makes recall much easier.
For variety you could change supermarket to toy shop or pet store or clothes shop.
In current times you could also adjust it to be “I wish I could go to the shops and buy…”
A popular and simple game for two or more players that helps build vocabulary. Players take it turns to name a category. Once the category is decided, players take it turns to name something within the category. Play goes on until nobody can add any more (or you could stop when your first player runs out of ideas). Possible categories are endless but here are some suggestions for a variety of interests and ages:
- Roald Dahl books (or characters)
- Football teams
- Chocolate bars
- Chemical elements
- Types of pasta
One player thinks of a famous person OR thinks of an animal, vegetable or mineral and says which category they have in mind. The other player(s) must ask questions to guess who/what they have in mind, but they can only ask questions which have the answer yes or no. Can you guess in 20 questions or less?
Surely the most classic of all kids mental games? With younger children you can begin “ I Spy with my little eye something that is coloured…(red/blue/green etc)”. With older children change the colour to a starting phonic sound or letter. Make sure it’s something you can see. You can either take it in turns or play that whoever guesses correctly picks the next word. It’s a good game for building vocabulary and observation skills but children tend to prefer it to adults!
Word Chain (or alpha and omega)
In this game you choose a wide category such as food and drink, animals or girls names. The first player says something from the category. The next player must say something from the category which starts with the last letter of the previous answer. For example:
We have adapted this game on our daily walks so that the category is “something we can see” and it has proved a favourite with the kids.
Don’t finish the word!
This is one to help with their spelling. You can play with two or more people. Play goes around and each player has to add a letter. The rules are the letter you add must leave the possibility for a real word to be finished BUT you lose if you actually finish a word. So for example you if there is so far BA, you cannot add D, T, G etc because it finishes a word she you cannot add E as no real word could follow but you could add L on your way to ball. A player can be challenged on the word they are creating. If they can name a valid word they win, if they cannot the challenger wins.
The yes/no game
One player is put in the hot seat. The other player(s) bombard them with questions and the rule is they are not allowed to say “yes” or “no”. If they do, they lose and the players switch around.
I remember me and my brother finding the reverse version of this game hysterical when we were younger. To play, the child in the hot seat, can ONLY say yes or ONLY say no (agree which one before you start). This leads to exchanges such as “do you look like a warthog?” “Yes”. You can imagine that kids love this version…
This a lovely game for developing children’s imagination and literacy skills. You can play it with two or more people. The first person starts a story and after a sentence (or a small chunk of the story if you prefer) the next person carries on.
A more challenging, and often hilarious, version of this is to make it alphabetical so each sentence has to start with the next letter of the alphabet.