Today is my ten-year-old daughter’s Birthday Party. Akaisha has invited her whole class to her Birthday Party down at a park near to the beach. She is super excited! We’re new to the little town of Augusta, having recently moved from the Cocos Islands, and this will be the first time for Akaisha to have friends from her school joining with our family for a celebration.
The birthday cake is ready, party food prepared, and tables and chairs set. All that is needed are group party games and a bunch of eager kids!
Luckily, my expertise is running group games for kids. So, coming up with a selection of group games for Akaisha’s Birthday Party was easy.
We planned for Akaisha’s party to run for two and a half hours. We wanted to run a couple of shorter games right away to get the kids moving and allow them to get to know one another. Then we would stop for some food and drink. After that, we will have a longer, large group game to run the kids off their feet! Finally, we plan to sing a Happy Birthday and share a cake before the kids all head home.
To be able to play these games we needed a little equipment. Cathy, Akaisha’s Mum stopped by the Big W store and bought some inexpensive soft balls, hoola hoops, marker cones and some colored plastic mats. I cut the mats up to make headbands.
So, let’s fast forward to after the party and talk about the group games we played…
First up, a game called Octopus Tag. This is a fun outdoor large group game, a little like the traditional game, British Bulldog. Only Octopus Tag is a lot less physical. This game took about 20 minutes to play with toddlers through to adults joining in.
The aim of Octopus Tag is to be the last player left in the game.
I set up a rectangular space about 50m long and 30m wide. Someone was chosen to be the Shark. He started in the middle of the area. All the other players were the minnows (fish). They began by standing at the base line. The game starts, and the minnows run the field to the other end to where it is safe. The shark chases the minnows trying to tag them. The first two minnows tagged become the crabs. The crabs joins the shark’s team. Crabs may sidestep in a line back and forth from one side of the field (width) to the other. They cannot run forwards or backwards, only sideways. They try and tag minnows swimming past. There can only be two crabs.
Once all the players are safely behind the end line, they then must run back to the baseline. The shark and crabs, tag minnows. When minnows are tagged, they become octopuses. Octopuses stay glued to one spot. They have long wavey tentacles to tag any minnows swimming past.
The game continued until all minnows had been tagged! The last minnow to be tagged, became the shark for the next game. The kids loved the game and we played four rounds, then stopped for a quick drink break.
You can add other creatures to the mix if you like, for example you could have a jelly fish. A jellyfish could be two players holding hands, chasing the minnows.
We were straight into our next game, Dragons’ Tails. A fun 20 minute team game where dragons chase one another around trying to, either steal tails, or have opposition dragons break apart. This is one of the best group games for parties, as it is quick, requires strategy and team collaboration, and can be run with large groups. All you need is a tail for each of the dragons. This can be a t-shirt or a length of cloth.
I put the players into teams of about eight players. The players in each team form a dragon, similar to the Chinese festival dragons. Players hold onto the player in front of them. The front player is the head, and the rear player is the tail. The rear player tucks a tail into the back of their shorts.
Allow a little time for dragons to plan a strategy and to have practice moving around without breaking apart.
Our game kicked off with dragons moving around the space seeking opportunities to grab a tail. If a tail is snatched, then that dragon is out of the game. In the excitement of the battles, dragons will break apart. These dragons are also out of the game.
Finally, the game will be left with two dragons battling it out. There can only be on victor! Our first game of Dragon’s Tails lasted about five minutes.
Now that the kids knew how the game works, they were better prepared for the following rounds of Dragon’s Tails. I noticed that they would each devise strategies for attack and defense.
Having a Break
After these two games, we stopped for a drink and party food. However, before the kids settled down for too long, we had them up and ready for our final game. This game must be my all-time favorite. It is fast moving, caters for large groups and once the kids know the game, it will run itself.
Capture the Flag
We used a large space in the park, about 50m by 50m. This worked well for our group of about 40 players. This space, I Divided into quadrants using marker cones. If you don’t have marker cones, you could use rope, shoes or beanbags. In each quadrant I marked a circle (3mX3m) and place a ball in the middle of each. The balls are called the Flags, and each team must start with one. A flag can be any object. Shoes make great flags.
Lastly with the setup, I placed a hoola-hoop (or you could use a mat) at the rear of each quadrant. These are the jails for holding captured enemy.
Divide the players into four teams and use something to identify teams. I used the colored mats that I had cut up. These were worn as either a headband or armband.
The aim of Capture the Flag is for one team to steal the flags from all the other teams. The team with all four flags, wins! Note: this is difficult to achieve, and often, no one wins the game.
To give you the general gist of how the game works I’ll outline the rules. Teams, each controlling a quadrant, defend their flag by tagging anyone who tries to steal it from them. When defending their flag, they do so by standing outside the defined circle where the flag is held (no doggy guarding). Whilst some team members are defending their flag, other players try to sneak into other teams’ quadrants and steal their flags. If successful they must run it back to their team and place it in their team’s flag circle. They cannot kick, throw, or pass the flag. If they are tagged whist escaping with their flag, then they simply drop it. Anyone can run in and grab it.
If a player is tagged whilst invading another team’s quadrant, they must go to that team’s jail (the hoola-hoop). They place one foot in the jail and wait to be rescued. If multiple players are in the jail, then they can link, by holding hands and form a chain from the jail.
To be rescued from jail, a player from your own team must reach you and hold your hand. They can then run you back to the safety of your team’s quadrant. If they let go of hands as they are running back to the safety of their quadrant, then they can be tagged immediately and send back to jail. A player can rescue more than one player at a time, but only players from their own team.
We played Capture the Flag for 45 minutes on a hot day. There were four-year-olds right through to adults playing. During the 45 minutes we had two winning games and the last one was called a draw. Between each game the players stopped for a quick drink, then straight back into the next round. Everyone had an awesome time!
I like to stop games whilst the kids are really enjoying it, despite protests to keep going. That way I know they’ve all had a great time and will be keen to play again another day.
Akaisha had a wonderful time sharing a fun experience with all her classmates and her family. Everyone went home tuckered out … and full of sugar!
These three kids group party games worked perfectly for the outdoor venue we had, and for the size group we had. There are many more games that would work just as well. Here is a list of some of my best group games for kids’ parties.
Indoor Group Games for Birthday Parties
- Whoosh Ball
- Jockey’s Up
- Screaming Toes
- Human Pinball
- Squirrelly Nut
- Pac Man
- More indoor group games for birthday parties found here
- Circle games that also make excellent indoor group games for birthday parties found here
Outdoor Group Games for Birthday Parties
- Secret Hunter
- End Zone
- Tic Tic Tic
- Check out more large group games suitable for Birthday parties here
Wacki App has most of these games, with excellent mini demo videos that give a great visual of each game, and a written description of the game and game rules.