1. Make a list of clues, riddles or little puzzles- the answer/solution is the item needed to be found. For example: "Like Pirates I start with a P, who sometimes have a wooden LEG. The answer PEG. 2. To burn off extra energy or when dealing with a group of children, place an instruction with each item that the child has to follow. For example: "Hop on one leg." The child then has to hop on one leg until they find another item. Other instructions could be jump like a frog; clap you hands; walk backwards etc.
Treasure Maps Make one yourself or get your children to hide a piece of treasure each and draw a map to it for others to find.
Sardines One person is chosen to hide while the rest count to a specified number. Then like hide and seek, the aim is to find the person hiding. However this time when someone finds the person, they have to hide with them. This is done until the everyone has found and joined the hiding spot. Whoever found the hider first becomes the next hider and the game begins again.
To add additional levels to the game, try setting a time limit. Impose restrictions such as a staggered search, that is, whoever reached the hiding place second gets a 20 second head start before the third person can start looking, and so on.
Cubby Houses You'll be amazed at how much fun children can have with a couple of blankets or sheets strung up between chairs or thrown over a table. The same is true for large cardboard boxes. Throw in a few cushions, some stuffed animals and a picnic basket to keep them entertained and imagining for hours.
This was a favourite with my siblings and our neighbours' kids. Find a large room and set up different 'booths', placing a child in charge of each. Children then have fun visiting each other and taking part in activities, as well as running their own. Below are several examples of booths.
1. Bowling - knock over empty plastic bottles with a ball. This is great when played in a hall.
2. Fortune Teller - Find something to act as a crystal ball (my favourite choice was a snow globe). The child can then make up fun futures for visitors. Or you can create some in advance and have the child pull them out of a hat.
3. Lucky Dip - Wrap up little gifts and lollies and throw them in a bucket for children to pick.
4. Find the Pea - This requires 3 cups and a small object to place underneath one cup. The cups are then shuffled back and forth and the child has to try pick which cup hides the object.
Different levels can be added to this activity, such as money (either make your own or purchase play money) or even prizes for games. Small party favours make great little prizes and are inexpensive.
Books and the internet are a great place to find ideas of other games and activities that use what you have lying around at home. Don't forget to speak to your children, their imagination may be the only resource you need. Give them an idea and they will run with it.