Free, easy, and fun games to play with your kids when you just can't think of what to play
"Let's play dad! Dad, let's play! Dad! Dad!"
My kids every hour
If your kids ask you to play every hour of the day, then you've most likely felt that immediate panic to not only come up with some mysterious energy to do so, but to also magically come up with a new, and amazingly creative game, all within the space of seconds, that will simply blow their minds!
Well, here's my list that was born out of that sheer panic and lovingly molded over the years by my kids.
Hope you get inspired to try at least one.*
*Disclaimer: The following are dangerous games, do not try any of them. If anything bad happens, that's on you as a terrible dad!
The Dad List!
Gorilla DadA family favorite in this house. Warning, it might frighten the crap out of your kids, but they'll love it. Basically, dad is the gorilla and the kids must try to escape his capture. We use a 'gorilla cave' (back of the couch) as the den the runaway chimp kids get put! The kids scream laughing, you get to thump your chest like a gorilla. Win. Win.
Zombie DadWarning, this will also frighten the crap out of your kids, but they'll love it. Basically, dad is the zombie looking to eat yummy kid brains. He walks around on his knees and can only say the word 'Brains!'. He can be knocked out for 10 seconds if he gets hit on the head by a pillow! Those 10 seconds are such precious moments for the kids. For bonus dad points, give the kids markers to graffiti the zombie!
Kids vs ZombiesAn extension of Zombie Dad. The zombie is trying to get into your house and only has 60 seconds to do so. The kids must do all they can to stop him. Hitting the zombie on the head, again with that fluffy pillow, will render him unconscious for 10 seconds. If he makes it to the other side, he gets to eat yummy kid brains. Let them have markers too! So much more fun when they get to graffiti a zombie!
Superhero TrainingDisclaimer: This is simply a tricky way to get the kids to practice meditation. The key is to tell the kids how hard meditation is, that it's a kind of superpower for humans and that kids their age typically can't do it. This is all technically true, we just use comic book heroes to facilitate it all. Start by seeing if the kids can do just 10 seconds of concentrating on their breathing, nothing else. 10 seconds is tougher than you might think. See how long they can focus for. The positive impacts—of even just attempting this—are numerous.
Teddy Catch or TootProbably my 7 year old's favorite. If you haven't guessed yet, you'll need a few teddies for this one. For some mad reason, our hero must turn their backs to Mad Dad while he throws a teddy in the air. These aren't regular teddies. They're full of noxious gas in their butts that if they were to land on the ground from such a height, would toot so loudly that if the poisonous gas didn't knock you out, the loud toot would. This is why it's so important to think fast as you turn to catch that stinky teddy and save the world.
BackpackersWe actually got this idea from Disney's "Bluey". The kids are your backpacks and you transform your house into anywhere in the cosmos for a great adventure. Here's a clip of it from the show:
Silly WalksWarning: this one has gotten out of hand more than once. Each person takes a turn doing the silliest walk they can come up with. You start out of view, everyone else shouts "Go!". When you're out of view, you might pull your t-shirt over your head like Beavis and Butthead, you might pull your trousers up above your belly button, you might have jelly legs or arms. When you're ready, you do the silliest walk you can think of. Inevitably, this descends into naked butts in our house.
Daddy RobotWe usually play this one if we're in the pool or hot-tub. Dad is a Robot TV-show host asking the kids random questions like; What is your brother's middle name? Close your eyes, what color shorts am I wearing?
If you get the answer right you move onto the next round, get it wrong and you're in for a load of tickles or water splashing. Robot voice is paramount.
Vehicle VoicesMy wife hates this one. The game is simple. While driving in the car, we each take turns to see who can scream the loudest. We reserve this one for special occasions.
We have an alternate version, which is much easier on the ears and has an actual learning component in the shape of rhyming. I say a random set of nonsense words like; "BOK BOON YIP" and each kid has to come up with an equally nonsense phrase, but it must rhyme!
Wrestling!Duh! I've proudly wrestled as a gorilla, a grumpy unicorn, godzilla, and even a leprechaun from Ireland.
Claw GameMy vice is those damn claw games at the arcade. I love them. To recreate at home, simply fill your lap with teddies, use one of your arms as the voice controlled claw the kids can direct by instructing; LEFT/RIGHT/FORWARD/BACK/DROP.
Extreme WeatherEach kid takes turns holding onto Helicopter Dad by wrapping their arms around his helicopter neck. It's not as sore as it sounds. The helicopter has to take each kid out of the storm to the safe couch. The fun part is they get to choose what type of storm it'll be.
- Lightning (stick your finger into their ribs for an electric shock)
- Tornado (just twirl in circles, hello vertigo)
- Earthquake (jump up and down)
Got any more?
If so, I'll add them to this list. And if the list gets unwieldy, I can always add filtering and sorting.
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