Games for under 4s

Simple games, plenty of music and lots of winners keep little ones happy

Treasure Hunt

Equipment needed: small packages or sweets, paper cups

Hide ‘treasure’ all around the party area. The treasure can be whatever you choose. Make sure that it is specific so that the children are certain in their minds what they may collect. If you use small gifts then wrap them all in the same gift wrap. You can use sweets. At Easter time use small chocolate eggs. At Christmas use the gold covered chocolate coins. Give each child a paper cup to collect in and tell them how many items they are to find. This will make it fair for each and bring the game to an end.

Musical Cushions

Equipment needed: cushions, music player

Place cushions at random all over the floor. The number of cushions needed is one fewer than players. Have the children walk or dance all around the room while the music plays. When the music suddenly stops the children find a cushion on which to sit. The child left standing is out. Resume the music and dancing. Remove one cushion. Continue until left with a winner. As each child is out you may like to give them a small reward.

Cat and Mouse

Equipment needed: music player

Little ones love a bit of acting. While music plays the children scurry around squeaking like mice. When the music stops the children must stay still and as quiet as mice. If any ‘mouse’ is noticed moving or making a noise s/he will be caught by the ‘cat’ (adult in charge of spotting movement). They are then out of the game which continues until there is one remaining ‘mouse’ who is then the winner.

Musical Statues

Equipment needed: music player

Have all the children dancing whilst music plays. When the music stops the children must stand still in the manner in which they are caught when interrupted. Any child deemed to still be moving when the music stops is out. As each child is out they help spot the movers.

Pass the Parcel

Equipment needed: prepared parcel, music player

Get a small gift. Then wrap it in many layers. Sit the children in a circle. Get them to pass the parcel one to another around the circle while the music plays. Stop the music suddenly. The child in possession of the parcel when the music stops has to remover one layer of wrapping. Then the passing resumes as does the music. Continue until someone removes the wrapping to disclose the gift which s/he gets to keep.

Copy Cat

Equipment needed: none

Tinies love this game which can be used as a ‘quiet’ interlude. Make it cosy by you sitting on a chair with the children gathered around you on the floor. The children have to copy you as you name various parts of your body adding the word ‘meow’. For example: “knee, knee, knee, meow” while pointing to your knee – all the children copy. However, if you say: “foot, foot, foot” they mustn’t copy – if they do they are out.

Potato and Spoon Race

Equipment needed: spoons, potatoes, markers for start and finish

This needs plenty of room so if your party is in a garden or hall this is a good activity. You will need spoons and potatoes which will fit the bowl of the spoon. Mark a start line and a finish line. The children hold the spoon with a potato resting in it. They run along the course trying to keep the potato balanced (without using the other hand). If the potato drops off they may pick it up and resume the race. Have more than one heat and a final. This will give spectators for each race and lengthen the time for the activity.

Musical Animals

Equipment needed: music player, pictures of animals

All the children dance around while the music plays. When the music stops show the children a picture of an animal. They then imitate the movement and sound of that animal. There are no winners or losers and little ones love this game.

Musical Colours

Equipment needed: music player, colour boards

Place around the area a board with a splash of colour – red, yellow, green, blue. All the children dance around while the music plays. When the music stops, call out a colour. All the children have to run to the board with that colour. The last child is out. Continue until the last remaining person is the winner.

Variations of Musical Colours:

Musical Transport – the boards have pictures of a bus, a plane, a ship, a train.

Musical Shapes – the boards have shapes drawn on them a triangle, a square, a circle, a diamond.


Equipment needed: bags containing about 5 separate items

Collect ordinary every day items – for example: spoons, clothes pegs, combs, coasters, small toys. Be sure that you have two of each. Make up some bags with one of the various items – about 5 for each bag. Give a bag to each child who then has to hunt around the party area to find a match to each item in their particular bag. Many of the items for each child will be the same, some will be different. That is fine. The first child to find a match for all their items is the winner.

You are welcome to write your own tips and advice, or some experience you've had with planning parties, the actual event, making cakes or costumes. In fact anything at all to do with parties that you can share on this website.
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