Looking for games and activities to play in the dark? Look no further. Whether the power is out or you’re just looking to shake up your nighttime routine, playing in the dark can be fun for kids and adults alike.
When the lights go out, it’s an opportunity to unplug and play in the physical world, says Dr. Glenda Revelle, an associate professor of human development at the University of Arkansas.
“The two most critical areas of experience for children’s development during the early childhood years are exploring and experimenting with physical objects in the environment and engaging in conversation and play with parents or other adults,” Revelle says.
The potential for fun goes up in the dark because there’s a sense of mystery and excitement. While some kids can get a little scared, others find it thrilling and full of possibility. Parents can take this opportunity to create a safe environment where kids can explore and expand their comfort zone.
“The valuable role that adults can play in helping children become children is by fostering these kinds of settings where they really can play freely,” says Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor in the Department of Psychology at Boston College and the author of “Free to Learn.” “A setting where there is an adult there that can protect them from serious dangers and who maybe can teach them some games but they’re not required to play.”
Gray suggests setting up the play environment, then stepping back and seeing what happens.
“Kids want to invent their own ways to play,” he says. “Kids are amazingly good at knowing what they typically can and cannot do. That’s a very valuable kind of play that children are being deprived of in this day and age.”
When the lights go out and the video games turn off, it’s a perfect time to go back to basics and let kids explore.
Try these games and activities to play in the dark, and see what new ones your kids come up with armed with their imaginations, flashlights and glow sticks!
1. Statue Tag
In this version of tag, the person who’s “It” stands at the front of the room and turns his back on everyone else, who are pretending to be statues. When his back is turned, the statues can move toward “It.” The person who is “It” can turn around and shine a flashlight on the statues at any time. If “It” catches a statue moving, that statue is out. The goal is to touch the person who is “It” without being caught.
2. Spotlight Charades
Actors of all ages love to be in the spotlight. Train a flashlight on one player as she acts out the title of a movie, TV show, book, song or plays a famous person.
3. Glow Stick Ring Toss
Set up a glow stick on its end by securing it in a mound of clay on the floor. Take turns tossing glow bracelets, trying to loop them around the glow stick.
4. Glow Bowling
Insert glow sticks in empty soda bottles, set them up in a triangle and knock them down in this cool twist on an ordinary game.
5. 20 Questions
In this classic game, one person thinks of an object and everyone else gets to ask 20 yes or no questions to figure out what it is. No lights required!
6. Reflector Treasure Hunt
Place small reflectors around the dark yard. Teams set out with flashlights to reveal the reflectors. The team that collects the most reflectors wins.
7. Flashlight Limbo
Hold a flashlight beam horizontally and challenge players to limbo under it without getting hit by the beam of light. Lower the beam with each turn. The last person to be hit by the beam of light as they go under the limbo beam is the winner.
Each player is a monster trying to catch the others. Players spread out around the room (or yard), and when someone says “go,” players try to move quietly and sneak up on each other. When one monster tags another, they yell “gotcha!” The person who is tagged is out. The last monster to be tagged wins.