Free Family Games Kids Can Play During Family Get-Togethers
by Anne Siller
It’s easy to spend money to have fun with your family. Money can buy great vacations, tickets to shows, toys galore. We are endlessly bombarded with ideas for separating our money from our wallets. But when gatherings happen, when kids and adults are in the same place as each other, there's no need to spend money! In contrast, it’s hard to come up with creative ideas for free family fun, especially on the fly.
Are the best things in life really free? We prove that they are. If you're looking for something quick and easy to do with your kids that doesn't cost a dime, look no further!
Free games to play with kids
On the hunt
- Scavenger Hunts: Scavenger hunts can be along any theme, for any item. Pick a place, pick a theme, hit the play button!
- Dinosaur hunt: This is a great thing to do outside with real dinosaur toys (the parent can hide them first), inside with pictures taped to the wall or with toys.
- Safari: A backyard safari or a safari out in nature is nature's version of the I Spy game.
- “Look under a rock” safari
- Bird safari (with bird guide from the library)
- OR a letter scavenger hunt. On signs, on printed letters stashed around the house
More outside fun
- Set up a challenging obstacle course (inside or out, with or without water) and time who can get through fastest
- Backyard Dig: For fossils (real or imagined)--Google information on the local dinosaur population and tie it in that way
- Find a small stream and build a dam from rocks
- Build a pool or bird bath
- Build a fort and play army/mission impossible/mission to Mars
- Bust out the hose and make a river/stream/lake
- Build a raft for your (dinosaurs, army men, barbies) and sail them all down the river
- Climb a tree (safely!)
- Hunt down all of your balls: Have a catch, kick a soccer ball, toss a Frisbee, kick a football... or make up a game with ALL of them at the same time!
Inside fun that stretches brain and body
- Book Club night…. Have a family book club. It can be an old favorite on the shelf or a new favorite from the library.
- String a curtain and put on a play
- Learn something with your kids that they can use to entertain others in the future: Memorize a poem; learn and sing an American folk song, learn how to juggle, learn how to make/practice bird calls
- Create and perform a silent film or put on a puppet show in front of your iPhone; send it to Grandma.
- Story time on stage: One person goes up in front (you can elevate a "stage" if you like...use a stool, toy box, that lifts you up, just not your brother's back) and reads or tells a story.
Learn and play the games your grandparents played….go ask them what they were! Here are some ideas; I've linked to the rules for each:
- Stick ball
- Kick the can
- Dodge ball
- Capture the flag
- Jump rope
- Chinese jump rope
- And of course, good old-fashioned "tag"
The list of card names is innumerable, plus you can always build a house of cards!
Flipping/trading baseball/sports/Pokemon cards
Dance Party (with or without costumes, disco ball, ) could be disco, salsa, formal, modern
Party dinners: Any dinner can be turned into a party! Just decide on a theme, make some favors, cut the sandwiches in a funky style, and you're there! Here are a couple that are big hits in my house:
- Pirate dinner: you get to use pirate language...make up pirate curses through dinner.
- Dino dinner (are you sensing a theme in our house?)…bring your favorite dinosaur to dinner, wear your favorite hat, dress up, dress down (naked in my house) use chopsticks, use hands only.
- The alphabet game
- I spy
- The states game
- The fortunately/unfortunately game...As in:
- "UNFORTUNATELY, I stuck my leg out the car window while we were driving down that last dirt road and a tiger bit it off....."
- "FORTUNATELY, I am plastic/neuro/orthopedic surgeon with PLENTY of sutures in my bag, so I think we can save you...."
© 2013, 2021 KidsOutAndAbout.com
Anne Siller is editor of KidsOutAndAbout for the Hudson Valley, NY.
Thanks to Kimberly B., Kristina Z, and Jen C who contributed some of these ideas and more! Keep them coming!