We all need a few tricks up our sleeves – whether it’s an ice breaker, you have 5 mins left of a lesson with nothing to do, or you’re at a kids birthday party and the 25 6 years olds are going nuts and no-one has a clue how to entertain them.
In this post, I’m going to share my 3 “go-to” games that kids love to play. They are no- to low-prep and require no equipment (winner!)! They are also games that don’t hype the kids up too much but keep them interested for a decent amount of time. And, best of all, you don’t have to be actively involved, just on the sidelines as the Third Umpire when required.
Game #1: Night at the Museum (Originally called “Museum” but I changed it after the movies were released)
This game is brilliant if for nothing else other than the students have to be QUIET! So good!
Here’s how you play…
Set the scene for the game – Explain they are all magical exhibits in the Museum. It is night time and the Museum Curator is doing their rounds checking everything is in order. As the curator walks around the exhibits come to life. But, BE CAREFUL! If the curator catches you moving, you’re out!
Now, select 1 student to be the Museum Curator (once they get used to the game, you might like to have 2 curators).
The rest of the class must take their position. ** No sitting, lying down, or leaning against a wall/cupboard poses (makes it too easy).
I always count to 3 to start the game. The Museum Curator then moves around the room in between all of the exhibits trying to catch people moving. (They are allowed to blink and breath – I am always asked about this!)
If students are caught moving, they are out and must sit down and wait for the next game.
When there is only 1 still standing (or a few depending on how the time is going), I stop the game and give a clap for the people who are left. I then choose the next Museum Curator from the winners.
**VERY IMPORTANT RULES: What the curator says, goes – if the curator says they’re out, they have to accept that decision (this is where the Third Umpire sometimes has to step in). People who are out are not allowed to interfere with or annoy the people who are still in. The Curator isn’t allowed to stand still in one place (this makes it too easy to catch people out). They are also not allowed to intimidate or touch people to try and get them to move.
Game #2: Frog’s Legs
This game is sure to have everyone in stitches!
Get the whole class to sit in a circle.
Choose one student to sit in the middle.
Set the scene for the game – A spell has been cast over the student in the middle and the only words they can now say are “Frog’s Legs”! So, whatever question they are asked, the only answer they can give is “Frog’s Legs”.
The Game – students in the circle take it in turns to ask the students in the middle questions. For example, “What is your favourite food?”, “Who’s your favourite football team?”, “What do you have for lunch today?”, “What’s your teacher’s name?” etc. **Make sure that students understand that questions can’t be rude, inappropriate, overly personal or potentially upsetting for the student in the middle (as Third Umpire, it is important that you moderate the questions as the game progresses).
The student in the middle can only answer the questions by saying: “Frog’s Legs”.
The aim of the game is to make the student in the middle laugh! If they laugh, they are out and the student who asked the question that made them laugh, goes in the middle.
**VERY IMPORTANT RULES: Students aren’t allowed to get in the face of the person in the middle or ask inappropriate questions. The person in the middle is not allowed to say anything other than “Frog’s Legs”! The person in the middle is not allowed to do anything to hide or stop laughing ie covering the face or mouth. Sometimes the students who wins doesn’t want to go in the middle. This is fine – I just select someone else.
Feel free to change the words of the game. This week my students wanted to say “Squishy Worms” and at Christmas time we had “Rudolph’s Nose”! Be as creative as you like.
Game #3: Rhythm Detective
Another great circle game for the start or end of a lesson.
All the students sit in a circle and you choose one student to be the Detective. The Detective needs to go and stand outside the room.
Next, explain to the class that you are going to be keeping the beat using body percussion – clapping, clicking, patting head/shoulders/knees/floor/feet, dabbing, you name it – as long as they stay seated. One person in the circle is going to be the LEADER. Everyone must copy the LEADER without giving the person away!
Next, call the Detective back in – they must stand in the MIDDLE of the circle (it is too easy for them to find the LEADER if they stand on the outside).
The aim of the game is for the LEADER to keep changing the way the circle is keeping the beat without getting caught.
The DETECTIVE has 3 chances to guess who the leader is. After 3 chances, or when the Leader is detected, the Leader becomes the new Detective and goes out of the room.
Then, a new Leader is selected – either by the teacher (preferably) or by the old Detective. Repeat the game.
**Try and get the students in the circle to keep a STEADY beat. Sometimes playing music during the game can help with this. They have a tendency to speed up!
These three are my tried and true games. All of my classes love them and they are often requested. I am a Primary Classroom Music Specialist but these games could very easily be adapted for older or younger students.
I think any games that actively involve the whole class – are engaging – and that teach students resilience, perseverance and “fair play” are so important in any subject.
Sometimes in the busy-ness of my lessons and trying to get through everything, I forget about time to just play and have a bit of silly but safe fun. These games are nice and easy ways to change the pace.