11 Simple Games for Mixed Groups of Children, Ages 2 and Up

QUESTION: “We have 14 children in our small group and we try to come up with different games or activities for them when we get together at parks or at homes. You have worked with a lot of children throughout your life. Are there any fun games you can share with us? 

ANSWER: I love games that can be played anytime you need a fun and spontaneous activity for little ones. I also love games that build skills, character, and relationships.  Here are 11 of our favorite “Anywhere Games” that children Ages 2.5 and up really love. None of these games require much planning, reading, or small game pieces, so you can play them anywhere and anytime you need to entertain children of all ages.  The most you will need is a pencil, paper, and stuffed animal or toys that you already have.  A few of these games can be played with no props at all, just imagination and conversation.

1.     What do you like best?
Little Children love to ask questions, and they love to answer questions too.  So we made up a game where we take turns asking questions that help us get to know each child better, and we laugh a lot! 

To Play:  I ask the first question: “Joseph, what do you like best: Bubbles or Squirt Guns?” 

He will give his answer, and then it is his turn, and he will ask someone else in the group his question: “Anna, what do you like best planets or watermelons?”  Then Anna will ask another child “What do you like best lunch or breakfast?”  Then that child will ask another child a question: “What do you like best cookies or cake?”   “Green or Blue?”  “Trees of Flowers?”  “Snow or Sand?”  This game is endless. You may need to tell the kids the rules, we only have on: No Potty Talk.

2.     Should We?
 I made up this game for Joseph to help him to learn right and wrong, and to make good choices in a variety of unexpected situations. This game can also bring lots of laughs! Once again it is a game of questions. My kids love to come up to me and say “Let’s play Should We!”

To Play: Just ask questions to make your child think about the right thing to do in an interesting or everyday situation. Sometimes the kids will enjoy making up their own questions.

“Joseph should eat someone else’s cookie?”

“Should we play in the road?”

“Should we eat dirt?”

“Should we eat carrots?”

“Should we put the cat in the bathtub?”

“Should we hit little babies?”

“Should we help mommy sweep the floor?”

“Should we make cookies with grandma?”

“Should we put cookie dough on grandma’s windows?”

3.     Family Questions (You can play this with any group, the kids love hearing the answers that the adults give too!)

We usually play this conversational game at the dinner table.  With a family of 11 this one can take a lot of time.  It also helps everyone to get to know each other.  Once again it is a Questions Games. 

To Play: Mom or dad usually asks the first question, and everyone takes turns giving their answer.  We usually only get through 3 questions at a meal.  One Rule: No “Yes or No” questions.

We ask questions like these:

“What would you buy if you had $20?”

“What country would you go to if you could go anywhere?”

“What is the most beautiful animal?”

“What do you think we should have for dinner tomorrow?”

“Name one important thing you should think about before you marry someone?”

“If you could have any super power what would it be?”

“What is something you like about the person to your right?”

4.     Drawing on the Ceiling
My husband plays this game when he tucks in the kids at night.  He points to the ceiling with his finger and draws a picture or writes a letter.  The kids try to guess what he is drawing.  They all take turns drawing a picture.  They can give clues like “This is an animal.”

5.     What Animal is It?
My kids love learning about animals, and happen to know the sounds of many interesting and exotic creatures.  All we do is take turns making an animal’s sound and the first one to guess the animal correctly gets to go next.

6.     What Comes Next?
Like most parents, we read the same stories, sing the same songs, and repeat the same rhymes and Bible verses over and over with each child.  Once the words of the story or verse are familiar to the child I will  give the child a chance to finish each line. Children ages 2 to 5 love this. When you are teaching or entertaining a group of children use this activity when telling a story or memorizing a verse.  With older children you can increase the number of words for them to fill in until the child can recite the entire verse alone. This works well for groups, because the children can all shout out the missing words together. 

“For God so loved the _____________.”

“Mary had a little _________.”

“How much is that doggie in the ______________.”

“In the great green room there was a telephone and a red _______________.”

“Jesus Loves ____ This I ________.” (click here to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Teaching the Littles

When my littlest girls were 2 and 3, they loved getting hold of the older kids Fun-Schooling journals, and helping me with Mom School. I made several Fun-Schooling journals for my preschoolers. It doesn’t matter if they color well, or write letters yet. It’s a chance to become familiar with words and letters and numbers with no pressure. It’s fun. And they learn simple skills.

One thing that is most important at this age is your example. So color and work together in their journal. They can’t write letters yet, but they can watch you do it and learn from your example. When you work in the journal it’s a chance for conversation about colors, numbers, animals, letters, sounds… feelings…

Learning at this age is all about play, exposure to vast learning experiences, exploring their world, and asking questions.

It is also essential that you show an example of reading, writing and calculating so they will have an understanding that these skills matter. When you are doing things on your phone you might as well be playing Candy Crush. Read books and magazines, write real notes and letters. Use a Mom School journal. Talk about recipes and include them in the kitchen and garden.

Learning isn’t about desks and workbooks… the world is your classroom.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Prioritizing ALL the Things!

As you plan to Fun-School a child under 10, don’t feel like you need to do everything on your list every day.

Listen to your child and watch for what brings them joy. You will learn what subjects and topics your child is passionate about, and those are the ones you should do every day and spend more time on (if the child wants to spend extra time researching their favorite topics).

Many teachers focus the most on the child’s weakness and problem areas. I do not focus more than 20 minutes a week on the problem areas – if the lesson or activity burns them out. If reading is a struggle, I use Dyslexia Games, but only 15 minutes a day – unless they want to do more. Usually they like Dyslexia Games, so it isn’t a struggle.

If math is a struggle, use games, calculators, and our new book 100 Numbers.

If they seem confused when trying to learn math, stop using a memory approach and teach then the WHY and HOW of numbers. They may need time to mature to be able to grasp new concepts. Children need to understand, not just memorize.

Make a lot of time for play, curiosity and discovery.

Children who are entertained constantly, over scheduled, or are addicted to gaming have a lot of issues. You can avoid MANY problems by making sure your child has time to use their imagination and PLAY without constant electronic stimulation. Kids often opt to be entertained. Boredom is okay and leads to innovation.

Healthy children often can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time. They are wiggly by design, children need to move their bodies while learning.

If there is a topic or book that you want to use that they don’t enjoy, you can let it go OR do the work together OR you do it while the child watches you do it.

Make sure your child watches you write – in print and cursive, that’s what the Mom School books are for.

Feel free to use audio books in place of reading, so the child can learn on a higher level.

Throw out anything that makes your child miserable when trying to learn.  Try the fun and joyful methods.  If there is no fun and joyful way to learn, you may be dealing with a maturity issue.

Kids on sugar may seem crazy and out of control.

Kids who do not sleep enough may seem moody and out of control.

Kids who see adults fighting or are exposed to violence on games and movies may seem depressed and unmotivated to learn.

Kids who text all night are often lazy all day. Is your child sleeping with a phone?

Find your child’s passion, and feed it.

It is good for kids to learn to research. Research is an awesome skill that is learned best when a child studies their passion.

Some of most important things to teach your children involve:

1. Reading

2. Research

3. Relationships

4. Responsibility

5. Resourcefulness

6. Rest & Reflection

Put first things first. Outline your goals for each child and help them grow in the things that really matter.

Ignore anything on this list that you don’t agree with, this is my method, and may not be right for your family.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – How to Inspire Your Child to Learn to Read

My girls 7, 9 and 10 are all using the same Reading and Research book. It works great for all of them because the ten year old recently learned English, the nine year old has symptoms of Dyslexia and the seven year old just wants to do what the bigger sisters are doing. So she tries to keep up.

I don’t worry much about reading before age 9. The longer they play the better! When my children start asking me “Mom, how do you spell…?” That’s when I know they are ready for reading. When a child is ready to learn to read it’s so easy to help them.

When it comes to learning to read there shouldn’t be a struggle. Dyslexic children and creative kids struggle because we are trying to teach them too soon. Dyslexia Games helps prepare the mind for reading and writing without stress, and helps to teach reading in a self directed way that works for creative kids.

Still, sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the job of reading before age 9 (for some it may be age 11, kids who learn to read late tend to be very artistic and creative.)