Fun and Game Suggestions for 10 yr olds
August 16, 2009 6:01 AM   Subscribe

A dozen 10-year-old girls and a birthday party. How do I keep them busy? Suggestions for fun games and low-budget diversions.

This is a pool party. Water balloon tosses will be a part of it as well as other outside fun. Plenty of music and refreshments but no hired entertainment. Please provide suggestions on fun, challenging games to keep them busy and entertained.
posted by terrier319 to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you near a university with a synchronized swim team? Hire one of the athletes to teach the kids a simple synchro routine. I'm sure you could do one with heads-above-water, and for the adventure she could teach them stuff like hand stands and more complex skills. (I have done this for ice skating parties with kids at skill level from beginner to advanced. It's loads of fun.)
posted by nax at 6:39 AM on August 16, 2009

Have you thrown a pool party for a 10-ish year old before? In my experience they will keep themselves entertained, as long as you provide some pool toys and snacks. My only suggestion would be to have some board games or maybe a simple craft activity in the near pool but not in pool area for when people get tired of swimming.
posted by telegraph at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was always a huge fan of the treasure hunt at that age. Write clues in "code" that the kids have to figure out which will lead them to the location of the next clue. Lame example: "Sew, how do you think you're doing? This next clue will have you in stitches!" Which of course would lead them to a sewing box. And at the end of the line is... a prize, or treats, or the cake, whatever. This might be kind of time consuming for you to put together, but it's about as cheap as a few sheets of cut-up copy paper (which you could totally tea stain for the aged effect!).

And, uh, this may be a relic of the early 90's and uncool now, but white socks and puffy paints were a pretty popular and economical activity when I was a wee lass... I'm sure there's some kind of modern equivalent. If decorating socks is demode, perhaps decorating t-shirts with different kinds of washer-safe paints would be fun? Do kids still like to BeDazzle shit these days?
posted by hegemone at 7:01 AM on August 16, 2009

I'd suspect with a pool they will be well occupied and happy as can be! I applaud you for not giving in to elaborate fetes for 10 year olds!

My son had a home birthday party this year. I had a scavenger hunt for my son's tenth birthday, and they had such a great time just being outside together that they asked me if they could just hang out and play football together. That is the event my son brings up most often from his party.

Hope you have fun!
posted by littleflowers at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2009

I think puff paint is out. Tie-dye can be pretty easy if you use RiT dye to make a red, yellow & blue vat ahead of time. In my experience a lot of ten year old girls are just like adults at parties. They'll organize their own games of marco polo, volley ball, dancing, or just hanging out and chatting.
posted by debbie_ann at 7:13 AM on August 16, 2009

I was going to suggest a home-made slip&slide (piece of plastic, water, dish-soap), but if you have a pool, I think you have all the entertainment you need.

But if you want to can some games, you could always suggest Marco Polo - whoever is it closes their eyes, and calls out "Marco" - everyone else has to shout "Polo!" and then it finds them by sound. This is very fun in a pool because you can hide under water, but I would only do it if the pool is shallow enough for all the kids to stand in, or they are all strong swimmers. (We played in a friend's deep pool all the time, but we all had lots of experience in deep water).
posted by jb at 7:17 AM on August 16, 2009

Have you asked your 10 year old? She's old enough to have strong ideas.
posted by jb at 7:18 AM on August 16, 2009

For out-of-the-pool time--we learned this game a couple years ago at a bat mitzvah and have played it at every party my girls (11 and 9) have thrown since, and it's a huge hit. You need a WHOLE lot of wooden clip clothespins (say a good-sized beach bucketful for every 3 kids, equally divided). It also helps to have a few WIDE-BRIMMED hats (we bought cheap sun hats at our big-lots store) and some Mardi Gras beads, although they aren't strictly necessary. If you feel like it, play some speedy music on your CD player in the background--we had this weird zydeco CD and it was oddly suitable.

Kids divide up into teams (we've found that three on a team works well but they can be bigger) and at the go sign, race to clip the ENTIRE bucket of clothespins onto ONE selected person on their team. That's why the hats and beads--gives a little more surface area to clip. Otherwise, on shirts, shorts, flip-flops, hair, other clothespins already clipped--they'll come up with some creative ideas. Game's over when one team empties their bucket. The designated clippee will look like a porcupine, but that's the whole point. Be sure to take pictures afterwards.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:29 AM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Pool Games:

- "Sharks and Minnows" (aka "Octopus"): One or more swimmers is/are in the middle of the pool, and the rest of the swimmers are along a wall. They are the "minnows", and the swimmer in the middle is the "shark". When the shark yells, "Sharks and minnows!" the minnows need to make it to the other side without getting tagged. If they swim underwater, they cannot be tagged, but if any part of them is above the water, they can be tagged, and then they become a shark.

- Obstacle course: Using noodles, diving toys, mats, floating chairs, etc., have the swimmers complete an OC in the pool - jumping, climbing, diving, swimming over and under things, etc. They can either be divided into two teams, or complete the course individually.

- "Colours": One of the swimmers is "It" and they stand out of the pool, with their back to the rest of the swimmers in the water (lined up along the wall). Each of the swimmers thinks of a colour, and when the "It" person yells their colour, they begin to swim quietly toward the other side of the pool. If the "It" person hears them, they can turn around, jump in, and chase them - if they catch the swimmer, that swimmer becomes "It".

- Diving for pennies: Scatter a bunch around the pool. You could offer a prize to whoever collects the most.

- "Water Polo": Set up two targets (flutter boards make good targets) on either side of the pool, and divide the swimmers into two teams. If you want to do this in the deep end, it might be a good idea to have noodles available for the swimmers (that would actually be a fun take-home gift, as an alternative to a "loot bag"). The goal is to throw a ball, and knock over the other team's target.

- At this age, they'll enjoy free time too!

Other Considerations (IAALifeguard + Swim/Lifesaving Instructor for >10 years):

- Does your pool have a deep end? If so, especially around age 10, you may have some swimmers who are only comfortable in the shallow water, and others who think that the deep end is the greatest thing *evar*. Try to make sure that the shallow-enders don't get excluded (or pressured into deeper water).

- I would urge you to consider hiring a lifeguard, or, at minimum, someone with lifesaver training (i.e., here in Canada, someone trained to the "Bronze Cross" level, if not "National Lifeguard Service"). This is of course if you don't have the training yourself. It would probably be less expensive than you think (for example, I charge ~$15-20/hour for "freelance" lifeguarding), and the peace of mind is well worth it. A lifeguard may also be a swimming instructor/competitive or synchro swimmer, and would probably have some great game ideas themselves, as well as being able to lead games. If you don't go with a lifesaver/lifeguard, make sure that there are LOTS of adults around (who wouldn't mind getting wet, and who are *very* comfortable with swimming), and lots of buoyant aids (noodles, etc.), to provide supervision and assistance.

- Whether you do/don't have a lifeguard, make sure to review the pool rules before everyone gets in - sit them down, and have a serious talk. Some things to consider:

- Where is diving/jumping okay?
- What kinds of dives/jumps are okay?
- What about horsing around - are they allowed to lift each other up on their shoulders, for example?
- Will there be a deep-end test?

Feel free to MeFiMail me for other ideas, and if you have any questions!
posted by purlgurly at 7:36 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

From Ms. Vegetable:

Categories - where somebody is calling out a category (ice cream flavor, color, type of tree, boy's name, etc.) as somebody else is jumping in the pool, and the one jumping has to name something from the category (chocolate, blue, oak, john, etc.) before they hit the water. No real points or winning, just amusing.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:55 AM on August 16, 2009

Seconding the tie-dying as an out of water activity (string a clothesline somewhere so they can hang stuff up to drip and dry). My niece loved that stuff.

Other out of water stuff can include twister, limbo, and, if you have enough of a lawn, some of the standard lawn stuff like badminton, croquet, bocce, etc. is not bad to have around.

Don't forget to have some water resistant sunscreen available (and since you won't know all the issues kids might have with allergies make sure it is hypoallergenic and fragrance free).
posted by gudrun at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2009

I had pool parties every year and the tye dye was always the out of pool activity. Get a whole bag of Hanes His Way undershirts, set up buckets around the yard, have people start rubber-banding when they arrive, dip, go in pool, eat, unrubber band t-shirts. Voila.
posted by melodykramer at 8:36 AM on August 16, 2009

Do you have a video camera? Setting it up to play through the TV and videotaping them doing a "talk show" goes over really well with kids that age. Basically set up two chairs and they interview each other about real or fictional topics (or you or a friend can be the host of the show and interview them). Later you could burn CDs of the footage if you want, but that's not necessary- they'll have fun just doing it.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:59 AM on August 16, 2009

I also don't think you'll have to do much to keep them occupied. I has 21 little girls over for my 10th birthday and we put on an impromptu fashion show, played "baseball", ate cake and fell asleep. The adults were involved when my sister's tooth got knocked out, when someone got homesick and during the cake bit. Lucky them, they were also the audience for the fashion show. :)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2009

Treasure hunt as a robot says. Excellent for ten-year-olds -- split them into teams. Or scavenger hunt, where a collection of specific objects has to be collected in a given time: feather, coin, leaf, etc., or as difficult as you feel inclined.

If the kids don't know each other well, it's nice to start off with propelling a dried pea across a room (or further) using a straw and no hands. With everyone on their knees blowing people get over their inhibitions fast.
posted by anadem at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2009

Thirding Tie Dye. It is always a huge hit with my daughter that age. Diving for little trinkets in the pool would be fun. You can also make the meal part of the activity, with something like make your own pizzas or a taco bar.

OH....karaoke machine. My kids would LOVE that.

Have fun!!
posted by Edubya at 11:15 AM on August 16, 2009

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