There are so many game ideas that it would be impossible to list them all, but we’re happy to provide you with some starter points. The internet, including The BBC are great for game ideas
- Evolution Janken –This game always goes down really well. First put up picture cards of various animals, for example, an ant, snake, monkey, person, and superman / superwoman, and make sure the kids know what the animals are. Everyone starts off at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder, as an ant, crawling around on the floor on all fours. Each person plays janken (rock, scissors, stone) with the first person they meet. The winner gets to move up the ladder, evolving into a snake, and thus now wriggle around the floor on their bellies. They then move around the room, playing janken with other people until they eventually become superman / superwoman.
- One variant of the game means that when you lose at janken you move back down the ladder.
- Another version of the game limits the people you can play janken with to those of the same evolutionary status as you, for example snakes can only play janken with other snakes.
- If you are worried about the kids being shy, you can do smaller actions to show your current status, such as wiggling your fingers above your head for a cute ant. Noises and gestures and adults looking silly always makes the children laugh!
- The game can be done with any variation of objects in an order. Christmas evolution janken sees you move from bauble, to stocking, to christmas tree, to snowman, to reindeer, to santa claus.
- Bingo –This is a great way for the volunteers and kids to sit and chat together, particularly if you ask a different person each time to call out a number. Asking different people for numbers is also a good way to introduce everyone to the group. It’s good to bring some prizes, but keep them small – stickers or a scented stamp on the back of the hand are great tokens.
- Memory game –Make a small set of cards with pairs of simple pictures or words on them; for example, you could make a set with numbers or colours. In small groups, spread out all the cards face down on the floor. Take it in turns to turn over any two cards. The aim is to find as many matches as possible and the person who finds the most, wins!
- Any card game is good for smaller groups –Why not ask the kids if they know some card games to teach you?
- Big Chief –Have everyone make a circle. Choose one person to be the leader. Choose another person to be “It” and have them stand in the center of the circle. This person will have to guess who the leader is. It’s important to note that the guessing person should be outside of the room when the leader is being chosen! The leader will do many different actions (clapping, jumping up and down, etc.) and everyone else will mimic the leader. You can limit the number of guesses to make sure the guesser doesn’t point at everyone! Generally, the leader will become the next person to guess. The more creative the actions are, the more fun the game will be.
- Marshmallow Towers –Set out some paper to cover the ground or table, give the kids marshmallows and toothpicks and let them loose. You can set a time limit to make it more competitive. The team with the tallest tower wins! However, everyone ends up being a winner because they all get to eat marshmallows. Note: you might want to check with the staff beforehand to make sure there are no dietary restrictions.
- Snowball Fight/Snowman Building Contest –Some of us are blessed (or cursed) with loads of snow during the winter. What better way to make use of it than with a snowball fight? You can play snow dodgeball, or make teams to have a snowman building contest. Make sure you remind your volunteers to bring their snow gear!
The Magical Bag
We recommend you bring a ‘Magical bag’ with you on your visits. Your magical bag can include such things as props, pens, crayons, colouring books, cards, games, bingo cards, balloons, paper, and small balls. We recommend asking people for things at school they don’t use or going to a 100 yen store. These things will come in handy during free play and extra time.