Dealing with restless young children can try the patience of a saint, especially during the long winter break. That’s why I encourage my kids to use their imagination to play games. Aside from letting me get work or chores done, the creativity involved in these games can help boost their intelligence. The kids are still young, so sometimes they need a little help getting started. Here’s a list of ten free games to help spark your kids’ imaginations.
Charades: the age-old game of silent acting and guesswork. You can play charades for hours, with many different genres or ideas. For a great starting point for kids, check out these free Animal Charades printable cards from Buggy and Buddy (@buggyandbuddy). Figuring out if Sis is a tiger or a lion can bring lots of laughs as kids find creative ways to pantomime their assigned creature.
Build a Paper Bag City
Kids love to play pretend with their action figures and dolls. Why not help bring their stories to life this crafty paper bag city? Half the fun is in making the paper bag houses, which can be as realistic or whimsical as they wish. Kids Activities Blog (@4kidsactivities) has some great ideas.
High Space, Low Space
Get up, get outside, and get moving with this space-exploring game. Teach your kids about the sky, the ground, and the things that live in each. Create dances and movement to explore how you can move in these spaces. Familyeducation.com (@familyeducation) has more ideas for this.
In my house of mostly boys, we end up going on lots of adventures. This morning, we hunted alien eggs on our walk to a nearby store. They looked suspiciously like acorns, but I’ve been informed that is to keep the hatchlings safe. With my little adventurers, we need to be ready for anything. This DIY adventure kit from All For The Boys (@4theboys) is a great way to make sure my merry band of adventurers is ready for anything.
DIY Doctor Kit
Ever since they saw Doc McStuffins for the first time, my little girls have been obsessed with playing doctor to any toy in need. A doctor needs a medical bag, right? Naturally, but the toy ones sold in stores are so expensive! What’s a frugal mom to do? You DIY it, of course, with help from Growing A Green Family (@jenniferchait). Their instructions will lead to hours of fun for your Doc McStuffins.
Build With Cardboard
You can make almost anything with cardboard. When I was about ten, I remember making an entire playhouse out of a refrigerator box and paint. My kids make rocket ships, hats, crowns, even birdhouses out of old diaper boxes and cereal boxes. My six-year-old is currently building a cardboard city for his new toy dragon to destroy. For awesome ideas, check out this list of 31 cardboard items you can make from BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed).
Bank on It
Math skills and money handling knowledge are so important for kids to attain, and this fun games banks on their intelligence to play. You can teach them important life skills and have fun, too. All you need is pocket change (or even toy money from the dollar store) and a pen and paper. Then follow these instructions from Familyeducation.com (@familyeducation) to help your mathematician with their skills.
Soap Boat Racing
Kids love a good race, and the more unique, the better. With this idea from I Heart Naptime (@iheartnaptime), your child can create a small boat from a bar of soap and race them down water tracks you can set up yourself.
Keeper of the Zoo
I promise this is a game and not just a description of how I feel in a house with little ones. Using animal books, stuffed animals, and pure imagination, your living room transforms into a zoo. Let your little one play zookeeper and teach you all about her zoo animals. You can even make cages for them with this guide from Teaching Mama (@TeachingMama_).
What Happens Next?
This was a favorite of mine on long trips as a kid, and now I play it with my kids. As the folks at RealSimple (@RealSimple) explain, you start a story. At some dramatic point, you prompt your kids with “And then…?” Now, let their imagination run wild as they tell you what happens next!
You don’t need expensive toys or shiny tech to help children learn. Their imagination provides plenty of fuel for hours of fun. Games like the ones I listed here can help with the building blocks of many skills while creating lasting memories. I have fond memories of playing dress up or creating cozy pillow forts. What fun games do your kids play? Did you enjoy our list? Let us know in the comments section and don’t forget to share.