Do you love to work with kids and volunteer, but are not exactly sure what to do to keep them entertained? Well, problem solved! Here are seven ways to engage with kids while you are on a volunteer program abroad (or even while you’re watching all your little cousins over the holidays):
1) Relay Races
Split the kids up into different lines and have them do various activities back and forth across a space, such as running, hopping, skipping, crab walk, etc. This teaches them to work as a team and encourage one another. Make sure they clap and cheer; the louder, the better!
2) Simon Says
One person is “Simon” and gives an instruction while the other kids do that action; if the person does not say “Simon says…”, the action does not count. This game teaches kids to listen more effectively and to pay attention to details. Plus, if you let the kids take turns being “Simon,” they will learn to think creatively and lead.
3) Sharks and Minnows
One person is the shark and the rest of the kids are the minnows. The shark stands in the middle of a space and tries to catch all the minnows as they run across the room; if a minnow is tagged, it too becomes a shark until the game is over. This game can help build teamwork because, as more kids become “sharks,” they will learn that they will have to cooperate with and help each other in order to catch all the minnows.
4) Capture the Flag
Divide the kids into two teams and give each team an object to use as their “flag.” After they hide their flag, the teams then have to work together to find the other team’s flag and capture it without getting tagged. This game really emphasizes teamwork, and it also can teach kids about strategy as they think about how to work together to “capture the flag.”
5) Blocker Ball or “Gaga Ball”
If you have a couple of dodge balls or playground balls on hand, divide the kids into two teams and give each team a ball. The game is then like dodge ball, except you can only hit a person from the waist or below to get them “out,” and the teams can go on either side; there is no dividing line. Again, this game teaches kids about cooperation because they will have to toss the balls to each other and work together to defeat the opposite team. It’s a fun, fast-paced game that kids love, and it’s less painful than dodge ball, which is a plus.
If you have older kids, this is a fun game. Have the children stand in a circle. The goal is to tag the two people on either side of you by tagging their hand. However, you can only do it one move at a time. So each person goes around taking turns making their one “ninja” move and trying to slap the other person’s hand, and if their hand is tagged, they are out. This game can help develop motor skills and teach kids to think and react quickly.
7) What Time is It, Mr. Wolf?
Have one child be the wolf and stand behind a line facing away from the other kids. Have the other kids stand at a starting point and ask “What time is it, Mr. Wolf?” Depending on the wolf’s answer, the kids will take that number of steps forward (i.e. if the wolf says it is 5:00, the kids will take five steps). If however, the wolf says it is “lunch time,” the wolf will turn around and try to tag all the kids until they either make it across the wolf’s line or make it back to the starting point. This game teaches kids to listen to directions, and if you let each of the kids be the “wolf” throughout the game, it also can teach kids to take turns and be patient.
Trust me, both you and the kids will have a blast playing these simple and fun games. Make sure you check out all the cool volunteer programs that Global Leadership Adventures has to offer, and if you have any other fun game ideas to play with kids while you are abroad or at home, tell us below! We’d love to hear your suggestions.
Contributed by Addie Davis