Every child wants to have fun at their birthday and toddlers are no exception. There are in fact lots of fun and engaging games you can plan that will get their curious minds ticking and their adorable giggles erupting. As toddlers do not always follow the rules you set or understand the concept of winning (you don’t want constant tears as little hearts break not understanding why they didn’t get a prize too) it’s a good idea to choose games and rules that keep them all having fun with little rewards for everyone. Remember, they can be very small gifts and the kids will be excited regardless.
Here is a list of some great games that will be perfect for your little toddler to play:
Toddler Party Games Ideas
1. Pass the Ball – A toddler-friendly version of pass the parcel. Littler kids are notorious for either holding on to or ripping open any parcel that is placed in front of them. An alternative for the younger kids is to pass a plastic ball around. Whoever has the ball when the music stops gets to leave the circle and pick a prize out of a bag. As the circle gets smaller the game gets faster and by the end everyone has a prize!
2. Musical Statues – Play some music and get the kids to dance around. When the music stops they need to freeze. The ones who stop the quickest get a prize and then sits down as the game then continues.
3. Follow the Leader – All kids love to follow the leader. Get the kids to line up behind an adult and with music playing go on a little snake trail of the yard. It’s more fun if there are some obstacles to go over, under or around and also if you get them to follow funny actions (arm waving, leg kicking) that you do. Kids can take turns being the leader too.
4. Duck Duck Goose – An old favourite. Kids sit in a circle and one walks around the outside tapping the others on the head one at a time and announcing “duck, duck, duck” as they do so. Then, randomly, they say “goose” as they tap a child’s head and when they do that kid must stand up and try to chase them around the circle. If the original tapper gets back to their spot without being caught then the person that chased them becomes the new goose. If they do get caught then they have another go going around.
5. Whats the Time Mr Wolf – One player is chosen to be Mr Wolf. Mr Wolf stands at the opposite end of the playing field from the other players, facing away from them. A call-and-response then takes place: all players except for Mr Wolf chant in unison “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”, and Mr Wolf will answer in one of the two ways. Mr Wolf may call a clock time (e.g., “3 o’clock”). The other players will then take that many steps out loud as they go (“One, two, three”). Then they ask the question again. Mr Wolf may call “Dinner Time!” Then Mr Wolf will turn and chase the other players back to their starting point. If Mr Wolf successfully tags a player, that player becomes the new Mr Wolf for the next round.
6. Bottom Shuffle Race – All kids hop onto their bottoms and shuffle their way to the finish line.
7. Dance and Sing – For the really young you really can’t go past sitting them in a circle, pop on a nursery rhyme CD and get them to do the motions with you.
8. Pass the Balloon – Exactly as it sounds except when music stops that child had to find a parcel hidden in the garden with a specific number on it.
9. Bubbles – You cannot go past a bubble machine at a toddler party. Kids can take turns trying to catch as many as they can or just let them run around near a bubble machine. You may not even need another item of entertainment!
10. ‘Fishing’ for Loot Bags – Wrap small presents (multicoloured pencils, mini cars etc) and sticky tape a metal washer to each one. Make a ‘fishing line’ with a rod and a short piece of string and attach a small magnet to the end of it. The children stand on a small stool/chair and fish to catch a present.
11. Walk the Plank – Create a pirate ship plank by laying a plank of wood on top of some bricks. Get the kids to line up and take turns trying to get from one end to the other without falling off. As they make it they get a prize with each child having as many goes as needed to make it. With very young ones you can always hold their hands.
12. Treasure Hunt – Plant fun little objects, treats or toys around the yard and get the kids to go out and find them. Whatever they find they can keep! Alternatively, give them a colour each to look for and get toys in each colour that they then need to find (this idea helps stop one clever or older child getting it all).
13. Decorate a Hat Table – Make or buy plain party hats and set up a little craft table complete with stickers, pens and other crafty items. Little hands can get busy decorating their own party hat to wear proudly.
14. Ball Pit – Blow up a small pool and fill with coloured balls. For really young guests this could just be a fun play area for them to enjoy – otherwise you can make a game where they have to get all of a certain colour out. Once they get them all they get a treat.
15. Parachute – This is a simple, cheap and fun activity that little kids love. A circular cut of nylon works best but you can also use a bed sheet or make one with some cheap fabric if preferred. The idea is that the adults hold on to the material edges and float it up and down while the kids either sit underneath or take turns trying to run underneath it when it floats up and get to the other side before it comes down on them. Several children can sit in the center and the adults can take the little ones for a ride by walking in a circle. Put some balls or stuffed animals in the center, raise the chute up and “shake” until all of the toys pop out or put them on the ground in the centre and kids need to dart in and grab one without getting trapped as it comes back down. There are so many options.
16. Rubber Ducky Bath – All kids love a rubber ducky and even more they love playing with water. Buy a few rubber ducks and before the party get them “dirty” using things like flour, syrup or any other edible item (in case it goes in their mouth first!). The idea is the kids then gather around some buckets or tub outside with soapy water and cloths to wash the ducks. Sounds simple but they will love splashing about and once clean they can keep their duck to take home.
17. Make like a shark – Lay a blanket on the ground and get the kids to walk or dance around it while music plays. As soon as the music stops yell out “Shark!” and all the kids need to jump onto the blanket as quickly as possible. You can run around the edges as the shark and nibble at (gentle tickle) any little toes or body parts that are off the blanket. Lots of fun – just be ready for heaps of squealing! If you like, the last kid on the blanket can become the next shark.
18. Dress ups – A pile of dress up costumes or clothes can make for endless fun for toddlers. Things like shoes, hats, tutus, scarves – just about anything they can dress up in – all make for lots of fun and imaginary play.
19. Egg and spoon race – Boil some eggs and get the kids to try to balance them on a spoon and see who can get to the finish line the fastest without dropping their egg!
20. Snake race (lolly snake on nose) – Same theory as the egg and spoon except with a lolly snake draped over their noses. The tough one here will be making sure they don’t eat their prop before starting the race!
Remember, it’s always good to have more game ideas ready for the party day than you think you will need. Usually two or three is enough and sometimes you won’t even get to them all – especially with unpredictable toddlers. Still, if things are moving slowly or the kids are getting distracted then it can be a lifesaver to start up another game and watch their little faces beam with excitement.