10 games to play with kids when you’re sick of toys
Sick of Scrabble, LEGO or the toys in your kids’ rooms? Here’s a quick guide on how to use household items and your imagination to keep kiddies entertained when they are over all the obvious stuff.
1. Playing shop
Start by getting your hands on some fake money. Monopoly sets can come in handy, or make your own out of a few pieces of paper and some stones or buttons. Let your children make a sign to go out the front of their ‘store’ and pull out all the cans and other cupboard goods to sell in the shop (if the cereal boxes have opened bags in them, pull them out and leave them on the bench to avoid spills). If your kids are big fans of the game, save empty boxes from snack and cereal products. Take it in turns to play shopkeeper and customer. Kids can use anything as a scanner and cash register, so don’t feel obliged to run out and buy a toy set – my sister and I used to use a hair brush and a coffee table with a drawer for the ‘counter’. This game is great for teaching kids about money, addition and subtraction and encouraging their imagination.
2. Cafe culture
If the pretend supermarket is a hit with your kids, keep the cash handy and serve afternoon tea in your very own DIY cafe. Kids can get arty by making menus and a shop sign, then sit back and let them take your order.
3. Music man
Nothing says band session like a visit to the pots and pans cupboard (your plastic containers will also work if you don’t like the noise, but it’s really not the same thing!). All you need is a selection of pots turned upside down, a few wooden spoons and your kids are on their way to rock stardom. The benefits of music for kids, and specifically drumming, are well established and include assisting in the development of self-awareness, listening skills, coordination of breath and movement, cooperation and patience. Playing music is also a physically and mentally relaxing way to release intense emotions.
Throw on the radio and get rowdy with the kids. This can be a great tension breaker for days filled with sibling squabbles or tantrums, or rainy days when everyone is stuck indoors. Dancing releases physical tension and uses up excess energy.
Nothing, and I repeat, nothing, topped the DIY games’ list for me like a good session of fort building. The more blankets, sheets, towels and pillows I was given, the more mansion-esque I would build my fort. The other bonus of the fort is it can take ages to get it just right (which encourages problem solving skills). And once it is done … well, it is one of those places siblings often get along in for a short time, plus it’s a nice place to quietly read or draw.
6. Plays and puppet shows
Get out your old clothes, a few stuffed toys, a row of chairs and a coffee table and hey presto – you have a theatre, just screaming for someone to perform on! This game is great for a long day at home with nothing to do, as kids will need to come up with a story, or decide on a favourite book to act out, design their costumes and rehearse, all before putting on their grand premiere.
7. DIY dollhouse
If you’ve got a cardboard box, you’ve got yourself a craft project AND a new play centre. My kids used to duct tape boxes together to make a parking garage, but they can also be used to make dollhouses (and smaller boxes can be used to make furniture). Then you have an art project – colouring and decorating their latest cardboard creation.
If you have a piece of chalk, you just need to find a patch of concrete and get drawing. Once the kids are bored of jumping, they can use the chalk to draw on the footpath – the rain or a hose will quickly wash away the marks.
9. Scavenger hunt
One of my kids’ favourite games when they were younger, the scavenger hunt can be as easy or as elaborate as you like. Older siblings can also be roped in by letting them create a list of items to find.
10. Hide and seek
If all else fails, you can always turn your house into a hide and seek centre!
So there you go, a stack of games you may not have even realised (or remembered) you had – all designed to keep kids happy and entertained for hours … and not a single a piece of technology in sight.
This article was written by Melanie Hearse for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz