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7 Fun Games and Activities for 5-Year-Olds

Julie Morse
June 11, 2015

Whether it’s a board game or fifteen minutes of hopscotch, the simplest of games can help 5-year-olds hone their language, motor and social skills.

“A 5-year-old needs a balance between organized sports, art activities and free play. They also need alone time and to be able to let a little mayhem reign,” says Dr. Michael Ungar, author of "I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need From Their Parents." “Try to play games where an adult can offer gentle coaching in case something goes wrong. That could be anything from building snow forts or having a snowball fight.”

Read on for 7 unique and fun games and activities to play with your 5-year-old.

  1. Memory
    This classic card game helps kids develop important memory skills.

    “Pre-readers have to rely on their memory a lot more than their older reading counterparts, that’s why Memory is perfect for 5-year-olds,” says Vanessa L. Kahlon, executive director and founder of Kahlon Family Services.
  2. Simon Says
    This very easy and minimalist game requires at least two players. It’s a great way for 5-year-olds to develop body awareness and memory skills.
  3. Acting Relay
    This wonderful theater game will have everyone laughing. As the facilitator, go through a series of pantomiming everyday tasks or experiences: going camping, eating an ice cream cone, bowling, changing a tire, changing a light bulb, listening to music on your iPod, watching a movie, being a rock musician, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, or making pancakes. The list can go on forever!
  4. Parachute
    Throwing a birthday party or a big event? Parachutes can be easily found at your local rental center. Making waves are a great way to teach 5-year-olds about spatial awareness.
  5. Alien
    This game needs a minimum of three players. The facilitator acts as the “interpreter” while a child sits next to him or her and acts as the “alien,” an extraterrestrial that is visiting from another planet.

    The “audience” asks the translator various questions about the alien, and the translator, in turn, translates the questions in the improvised language and the alien responds in the same language. It’s a great game for developing early public speaking skills.
  6. Puppet Show
    It’s easy to build a mini puppet theater from a tri-fold presentation board. Puppets can be made out of Popsicle sticks, construction paper, and some felt. Pick a story from a favorite book or a fable, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, or Little Red Riding Hood.
  7. The Scarf
    This game requires everyone to sit in a circle. Pull out a scarf (or if you don’t have one, a hat or a glove) and announce to the group, “this is a pig,” or some other kind of animal or object.

    Next, describe it. For instance, if you were talking about a pig, you would say “he’s very squirmy and smelly!” Pass the scarf along and instruct everyone to define and describe their object or animal. It’s a great game for exercising the imagination!

Julie Morse is a creative arts teacher and freelance writer living in San Francisco. Some of her work can be found here

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