What are your favorite group games or activities for young kids?
November 29, 2011 5:21 PM   Subscribe

What indoor games or activities would you recommend for entertaining a small group of younger kids during a dinner party?

We're hosting a dinner party for 4 families. I'd like to come up with a handful of 5-10 minute games or activities that can entertain a small group of younger kids (two 3 yr old boys, two 4 yr girls, one 7 yr old boy). We've got a downstairs rec room with an open area (maybe 10' by 10') and a toy area with the typical gamut of toys (trains, lots of cars, puppets, doll house).

Our son (one of the 3 yr olds) is just getting into the interactive play age, so I'm at a little bit of a loss for ideas - particularly ones that can entertain a range of kids. Here's what I've got so far:
* Simon Says
* Hide and seek
* Puppet show
* "Cook" a play dough meal
posted by rube goldberg to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I break out Don't Wake Daddy! whenever we have children visiting and it's always a hit. Even the adults love to play.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:47 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

My nieces and nephews range in age from 11 to 2, and they're always the most engaged and quietly happy when they have a big box of crayons, markers, and colored pencils and a selection of papers and coloring books.
posted by xingcat at 6:07 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: Two more ideas for you:
Abracadabra: The premise is that you say, "Abracadabra, now you are a ____(insert animal name)." The kids are supposed to become and act like an animal. Younger kids that I've worked with in the past loved this game (and if you want them to quiet down/stop jumping around, you can call out snake......think slow-moving, quiet animals. If the 7-year-old is not as entertained, let him give some of the callouts.

• If you want to "mentally" challenge them while eating or sitting down. There are lots of minute mysteries (I did googling and most are not great for young kids). However, one that I think would work well is (adapt this how you want with words, etc.) when everyone is sitting down, you pretend your hand is a gun aim at each person in the group and go around in a circle and say "bang" at each person but with one person you will say "BOOM" --in other words: "bang bang bang...BOOM! I got (insert name)." Ask them why you shot person X. Then do it again and it will likely be someone else. They need to figure out why person X got it one time, and someone else the next. The answer is....it is the first person that talks. I've even been able to entertain 12-year olds with these for 30 minutes while they are eating and trying to figure it out. But you can give several demons and challenge them to figure it out.

• Send them on a treasure hint, with puzzles to solve/tasks to do (you could start out with several large puzzle pieces, give each kid a puzzle piece, and they have to put it all together to get the first clue. The 7-year old could read the clues (or draw the clues)? Basically, have them run around looking for things and trying to look for the final prize or treasure.
posted by Wolfster at 6:11 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: I just finished a rousing round of "prison" with my children. They go in "jail" behind the couch. When they break out of jail ("whatever you do, do NOT break out of prison!") they have to perform a punishment before they can go back in (jumping jacks, draw me a picture of a ..., sing me a song, do a dance, tell me what rhymes with ..., what is 12-3). You can vary the punishments by age. They love it and I get to lay on the couch to play, so that's a bonus.

Also works well outdoors along with my very favorite game called "Run around the backyard while I count to see how fast you are. Good. Now do it again."
posted by Cuke at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: If you want to tire them out: I used to play a game called Statues with the kids I babysat. Basically, they whirl around like crazy for ten or so seconds until you, the 'curator,' say freeze. They, frozen in a weird position, tell you what they're a statue of, and the best/silliest/most creative one gets to be the next 'curator.' Might not work if there are a lot of fragile things at the height of a tiny flailing arm.
posted by troika at 9:04 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: Sleeping lions - where the kids lie down and have to be completely still. If you move, your out. When you want the game ro end threaten the last kid with being tickled.
posted by plonkee at 4:02 AM on November 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - Abracadabra, prison, statues and sleeping lions are exactly what I was looking for!
posted by rube goldberg at 9:32 AM on November 30, 2011

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