Welcome to our collection of games and physical play activities, perfect for keeping children aged 5 to 11 busy and entertained.
For different types of activity, see the other sections of our library:
- Crafts and making things
- Food-based activities and recipes (including for home-made materials)
- Christmas and Halloween (or autmn/winter) crafts
The step-by-step instructions are supplied as PDF files. Click on a link below to download a file.
Note that our activities are aimed at children of primary school age. Some may also be suitable for pre-school children with minor adjustments, but this is at your own discretion as the activities may include elements which are not appropriate for young children such as small parts, hot surfaces or substances that need treating with caution.
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Human hungry hippos
Most children are familiar with the 'Hungry Hippos' game, but what about scaling the whole thing up to human size? This very, very silly game will have everyone shrieking with laughter and appeals to all ages.
These monster feet are fun at any time of the year! Easy to make with old flipflops and cardboard, and perfect for silly indoor games when everyone needs cheering up on a gloomy afternoon or for mucking about outside in the sunshine.
Shoebox table football
How about making a table football game in a shoebox? This is a longer project that will appeal to the older children - a good activity to try during the holidays. Plus it involves lots of practising of maths skills. And it's good fun to play with afterwards of course!
Lolly stick catapults
Making these simple catapults takes just a couple of minutes and is only part of the fun. Once made and loaded with ping pong balls all sorts of games ensued, from simple running battles with flying balls, to more sophisticated games of chase and target shooting. This activity was hugely popular right across the age ranges at our club — including adults!
This is a good activity to do outside with the kids. Making the bubble blowers is very straightforward and afterwards the children can have loads of fun seeing who can create the longest bubble snake. For more entertainment value you can try adding a little food colouring to the bubble mixture to create coloured snakes.
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More games and activities
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Angry Birds game
A fun activity for a sunny day: make a life-sized Angry Birds game using balloons and cardboard boxes. Perfect for keeping the children occupied for ages. For rainy days you can scale it down so that it can be played indoors (using foam balls of course).
Balloon bouncy castle
Here's an idea that's lots of fun for the younger children, and much cheaper (and smaller) than hiring a real bouncy castle.
An activity that will appeal to the older kids, these balloon hovercraft will keep them all occupied while they fine-tune their creations to see which will go furthest/fastest/in a straight line!
Here's a simple but fun activity that you can do inside or out, so it's good to go whatever the weather. With just a few basic materials (straws, string, tape and balloons), the children will soon be whizzing their balloon racers up and down your club!
Balloon tennis is a very simple game and ideal if the children are stuck indoors on a rainy day. Making the 'racquets' is as cheap as chips, using just some paper plates, jumbo lolly sticks and gaffer tape.
Bowling in the dark
This bowling activity is so simple to set up, but somehow everything is so much more exciting when it's done in the dark, making this the perfect activity to brighten up a dark and dreary evening.
This game is super simple and uses equipment that everybody should be able to lay their hands on. You can adapt it very easily depending on the abilities of the players, and you can play for as long as you like by swapping the teams around.
Making these caterpillars is so easy that all the children can do it, but the best bit comes when you race them across the table afterwards. A really quick and entertaining activity to brighten a dull afternoon!
Cats and mice
An easy to understand game guaranteed to get them all shrieking and running around.
Here's an activity idea to make snack time special. Why not turn your club into a children's café for the afternoon and sit back while they bring you snacks and drinks?
This is a fun, physical game needing minimal equipment that can be safely played indoors (so long as you have a soft ball).
Another deceptively simple but very lively game to use up some of their excess energy. Needs a reasonable amount of space, and is suitable for playing indoors or outside.
Cup and ball game
This cup and ball game is a great 'make it then play with it' activity. Even our slightly grumpy tester got quite carried away with the decorating! We have gone for a Hallowe'en theme, but you could choose any colours or theme that you like.
This activity is aimed at the younger children at your club, but you can involve the older children too by drafting them in as 'official daisy counters'. You need little more than some pieces of cardboard and a reasonably-sized area of grass. With its focus on counting and comparing numbers, this is a good one to pull out when Ofsted are around!
Easter egg hunt, alternative
Easter has become such a chocolate-fest that you can be forgiven for wanting to avoid giving the children even more. This alternative Easter egg hunt can be completely chocolate free if you like, or you can choose to give just a small sweet treat as a prize.
First aid fun
We're not suggesting that you to go into the ins and outs of CPR, but just demonstrating the basics of first aid — and getting the children to practise on each other — can be surprisingly entertaining.
Fizzing moon rocks
Making these moon rocks is a lovely tactile experience. And then once they're dry, the children can have fun making them fizz and explode! Perfect for a science experiment or just for fun.
Flip the cup
An excellent game to get the children running around wildly and burning off excess energy! Perfect for playing outdoors, or indoors if you have plenty of space.
French and English
This wide game is great if you've got plenty of space and plenty of time: perfect if you're running a holiday club. It will have the children running around frantically, plotting devious strategies and generally having a great time.
Frisbee golf is an excellent outdoors activity, with the added benefit that it can be played in a socially distanced way. Buy some really cheap frisbees so that the children can have one each, or if the children need to share, frisbees are easy to wipe down between uses.
No, not a healthy snack, but a great circle game. Very easy rules so that even the youngest ones can join in, and lots of running around and shouting to use up some energy.
Bubbles are a brilliant activity for children of all ages, and it’s surprising how engaged they will be, particularly when you can make huge bubbles. Bubble making is in fact something of a science investigation, with many factors influencing success: variations in the mix, weather conditions (still, damp days are best for big bubbles), and the wands used to create the bubbles.
Do you sometimes feel like a cracked record, constantly reminding the children to wash their hands before diving into the snacks, and after using the toilet? Try this fun but very effective practical demonstration of how easily germs spread, and how to remove them by washing.
Ice breaker activities
Perfect for when you have a lot of new children starting at your club, this collection of ice-breaker activities will help them familiarise themselves with your club and quickly get to know each other.
Jump the river
This is a very simple physical game but it really engaged the children whilst also burning off lots of energy. And even better, it requires nothing more elaborate than two lengths of rope by way of equipment.
Make a tipi
Or is it a teepee? Anyway, this is an excellent activity to get the children working together and practising their problem-solving skills. Plus they get a great den to play with out the end. [Thinks: Hmmm, children and long bamboo canes, what could possibly go wrong?]
This activity is guaranteed to get everyone giggling and excited, but the 'shooters' are so cheap and easy to make: you just need some paper cups, balloons and sticky tape. Plus something to load in your shooter, of course; mini marshmallows are fun, but so are pompoms and ping pong balls. If you could tolerate the mess, you could even load them with glitter or confetti for a special event!
Draw a spider (or creepy creature of your choice) and then watch it magically come to life when you pour water on it. How is this even possible? Guaranteed to intrigue the children (just make sure you have a practice run first to check that you have exactly the right type of pens).
Mini bows and arrows
These really cute bows and arrows can be used indoors or out, and totally delighted the children when we made them at our club. The lolly sticks need soaking first to make them pliable so this is a good activity for when you have a bit more time, such as at a holiday club. You can use Sharpies and coloured pens to customize the bows further if you wish.
Mini paper kites
These mini paper kites are incredibly simple to make and fly. And you can extend the activity by getting the children to decorate the paper (on both sides) to make the kite more colourful, and once they’re made, the children can take them outside to fly them.
Minute to win it games
These quick games are ideal for those times when everyone is feeling a bit dull, or as icebreaker activities. The edible medals are a fun touch, and we defy anyone not to get the giggles attempting the After Eight Challenge! Another benefit of these games is that you can easily adapt them to use whatever bits and pieces you already have lying around.
Milk bottle catch
Here's a good game to make and play outdoors: use a couple of 2 litre plastic milk bottles to make catchers, and then see who can use them to catch balls thrown from the greatest distance. On really hot days you can increase the shriek factor by trying to catch water balloons in the catchers instead of balls!
Here's a nice outdoor activity for when the better weather arrives: making a simple bubble blower that is guaranteed to make loads of bubbles!
A great game for a large group of children which allows them to be shouty and silly whilst keeping them sitting down. Simple rules make it suitable for all ages. A good game for a wet afternoon!
This is a very silly game to get everyone in the party mood, or to help break up a dull afternoon when it's too dark and wet to play outside. Just make sure that you have a large supply of very cheap toilet paper.
With Spring in the air and the children desperate to be outside, now is a good time to start collecting bits and pieces together to create a 'nature detectives' kit. The kit is relatively inexpensive and you can add to it over time, or you can buy ready-made sets. The activities stimulated by the kit will engage children of all ages.
Oodles of noodles
Foam pool noodles are really cheap, and lend themselves to creating all sorts of outdoor games to entertain the children this summer.
We have been inspired by the Busker's Guide to Playing Out and by our own memories of childhood, spent outdoors, with little or no adult supervision. We've come up with some cheap or even free resources for loose parts play that the children can use outdoors entirely as they choose to experience some of those feelings of freedom and adventure that we so enjoyed as children.
Paper plane target
This is really three activities in one. Firstly there's making the target, then there's making the paper planes, and then finally flying the planes at the target to see which ones are most accurate. This kept our chosen guinea pig happily entertained for well over an hour.
Paper plate challenge
This is a great activity for a group of tired children (and adults), when the weather is rubbish and everyone is feeling a little bit miserable. Needs nothing more than some cheap paper plates and some felt pens. Guaranteed to improve the mood!
Pass the water
Pass the water is super simple to play, but it's trickier to win than it looks. All you need is some plastic cups and some water (and probably a change of clothes...) It is a good option for letting the kids play with water on a hot day without things getting too out of hand.
When you have many new children starting at your club at once, such as at the start of the autumn term, People Bingo is a good ice-breaker activity to help all the children learn each others' names and find out a little bit about each other.
Playing in the dark
Once the clocks have changed and the temperature drops it's tempting to avoid playing outside in the dark. So we've put together a few ideas for games, which the children will love, to encourage you to embrace the darkness!
Secret writing is a handy activity for you to keep in reserve for boring wet afternoons when the children can't play out. The equipment needed is very cheap and basic, but children of all ages are kept entertained by creating and revealing secret messages to each other.
Here's an activity with a scientific element—or else you can do it just for fun. How do the balloons blow themselves up? Lots of entertainment value in watching the balloons inflate—and then letting them fly off around the room!
Sensory play den
Sensory play spaces are particularly good for younger children, and those with physical or learning disabilities, although all children engage with and enjoy them. Here are some ideas about how to create a sensory play den at your club.
This is a simplified version of the well-known 'sport' of dodgeball. It's a really fun game which burns off loads of energy. It works just as well indoors or out (so long as you have enough room), and our kids never seem to get tired of playing it.
Apparently skee ball was originally an arcade game, but we made our DIY outdoor version using just cardboard, a washing basket and some buckets! Easy to make, easy to play and easy to adapt to different ages or skill levels. Plus, works well with social distancing so long as the children don't share balls, or you sanitise them (the balls not the children) between uses.
A wild and boisterous game - great for burning off energy. Needs plenty of space and a shiny floor.
(Can also be used to shoot ping-pong balls, pompoms or screwed-up paper balls!) It's amazing what you can make with two wrapping paper tubes and some elastic bands. Great for shooting fun, indoors or out.
Spaghetti and marshmallow towers
This is a very simple but engaging activity, using just spaghetti, mini marshmallows and strawberry laces to build a variety of constructions. The children get particularly motivated if you set them a specific challenge such as making the highest tower or testing to see which can hold the greatest weight.
Sponge water bombs
This is great activity for hot, sunny days. The sponge water bombs are super-easy to make, and unlike water balloons they're reusable and quick to 'recharge'. Can be used for target-based games, or for straight out water fights.
This quick-fire card game is a particularly good way to entertain the older children on a rainy day, when they have all need perking up, and is a guaranteed way to lighten any mood.
SPUD is an action game that uses elements of dodgeball, and is a great way to entice children outdoors and get them running around. And if you’re lucky enough to have plenty of indoor space - and a soft foam ball - this can be a fun rainy day activity too.
Why not create a free-access Spy Box and let the children use their imaginations to develop great games and craft opportunities? The contents of your Spy Box can be as complex or as basic as you can afford — there's no need to spend a lot of money to get their imaginations fired up.
Perfect for a sunny day, squirt ball is excellent fun for all ages, and could even get quite technical if you have a variety of different water pistols for the children to use. (Best played on a reasonably level surface if you want the ball to move easily.)
These straw rockets only took minutes to make, but once the children had made them they then had loads of fun with seeing whose rocket went the furthest, highest, was most accurate, etc. We also tried using different sources of air — a balloon pump and a bike pump — to see how the results compared to just blowing (spoiler: they went much further with the bike pump!)
This is a simple and cheap way to entertain children, ideal for when the weather is awful and they don’t quite know what to do with themselves. It's also good for when you need to keep them quietly busy for a while!
Talk about me game
Perfect for helping children settle in to your club at the start of the new school year, the Talk About Me game is a simple way to get the children talking and finding out more about each other.
Tarpaulin target shoot
Take a cheap tarpaulin, cut out a series of different shapes, assign scores to the different holes, then string up the tarpaulin and get the children to toss balls or bean bags through the holes to get the best scores. A good group activity both to make and to play. Plus we sourced all the materials from our local pound store making the whole thing incredibly cheap as well. This activity is a winner all round!
'Things to do' jar
Ever had one of those days where the children don't seem to know what to do with themselves and droop around saying "I'm bored"? Wouldn't it be great to have a big jar at the ready, packed full of ideas for things to do, so that the children can simply pluck out a suggestion whenever they need some inspiration?
Tin can toss
Everyone is familiar with the tin can toss game, but what about making it themed for a particular time of year by decorating the cans? We've created Christmas-themed cans but it would be very easy to decorate them so that they fit in with other themes such as Hallowe'en, sporting events, cartoon characters, etc. And replacing the traditional tennis ball with a bean bag or foam ball means that you can play it indoors too.
An excellent activity for a rainy day when the children need to burn off some energy inside. All you need is a nice shiny floor, a couple of old towels, and lots of oomph! (It's surprisingly tiring.)
Traffic lights game
This is a great activity for outdoor play, or for indoors on rainy days, to help the children let off steam. You can customise the game by adding your own actions and the very simple rules make it ideal for all ages.
Twirling ribbons are those long ribbons used in dance and gymnastic displays. This activity engages the children twice over: first in making the twirling ribbons, and then in playing with them. The children at our club loved these, and spent an amazing amount of time coming up with games and complicated 'routines' using them.
Water fun day
When the weather gets hot, the children get grumpy. Cool them down and cheer them up with an afternoon dedicated to water-based activities (and come prepared with some spare towels). This activity suggests a selection of tried and tested watery ideas.
No water fun day would be complete without a water maze. We show you how to set up this activity using cheap, readily available materials. Get the kit out, challenge the children to make the best maze possible, sit back and watch the interaction. You can also use the maze inside at other times of year, just substituting small balls or marbles for the water.
Our children’s faces lit up when we brought out this activity: constructing a sequence of containers to best channel water down a peg board. And apart from sourcing the peg board, it just needs a selection of old plastic bottles and containers so it's really cheap. Creativity, imagination and water, what’s not to love?
Windy day box
Prepare a windy day box full of activities, so that the next time the wind makes the children go haywire you can just grab it and go!
Woud you rather? game
Would you rather? is a simple game that is guaranteed to get everyone talking and joining in. Would you rather sneeze all day or hiccup all day? Would you rather always tell the truth, or always have to lie? And why? Everyone has an opinion!
This is a homemade version of the classic childhood zoom rocket toy, where you pull the strings apart to send a rocket flying to the other player - but we used a Pringles tube instead! This is a good game for social distancing as the children need to stand 2m apart whilst playing with it.