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6 Games Every Daycare Caretaker Should Know How To Play

I'm the owner and founder of PIT Designs. I love creating digital presence and creative digital solutions for our clients.


Posted 6 months ago on June 8th, 2022.

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One of the most valuable tools in the daycare caretaker toolbox is a supply of easy and fun games for children to play. These particular games should also be engaging and contain some form of educational benefit to them. So let’s take a closer look at six great choices that can quickly become your default choices when you require something to keep those young minds and bodies active.

Common Threads

This team-building game divides participants into teams of six. Each group has a package of pipe cleaners and a time limit of 20-minutes. The goal is to create a project that demonstrates the common thread all team members have in common. Examples of common threads could be that all team members like playing outside, so the pipe cleaners would be fashioned into shapes of things that exist outdoors. 

Or, the team could use all of the pipe cleaners to build a single item representing the outside world. The fun part of this game is the early minutes in the allotted time where players on a team learn what they have in common with other team members and what differences exist within that group as they play together.

Salt Shaker Relay

Who doesn’t like relay games? They do a great job of teaching teamwork and working together on a common goal. Split the daycare participants into two teams of ten, with each group sitting on one side of a picnic table facing the other. All players hold hands down the line of their specific team. A salt shaker sits on the table near the last person in the line. The first person in each line watches a leader flip a coin. 

All other players watch the salt shakers. If the coin toss is heads, the first person on each team squeezes the hand they are holding and continues down the line to the last person who is supposed to grab the salt shaker before the last person on the other team. A coin flip of tails does not count. Players rotate positions from back to front after each round.

Tennis Ball Toss

A game that keeps kids busy. With everyone standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a circle, facing the inside, each player introduces themselves by first name only. Once all introductions are complete, someone tosses a tennis ball at a participant calling the target's name. 

When a participant catches the ball, the activity continues throughout the circle. However, once a player captures and tosses the ball, they put one hand in the air, indicating they are now out of this round. Once everyone has had the ball once, they repeat the cycle, matching who got the ball when with someone timing them. 

Then, a third-round tries to beat that time and make the game faster each round. Some variations can add to the memory portion of this game. For example, the tennis ball gets tossed the first two times, bounced, rolled on the floor, etc. When players repeat each round, they become more complex.

Blanket Drop Divide

A blanket is hung between two teams so that neither side can see the other. Each team picks someone to stand near the blanket, and the blanket gets dropped. The game's object is for players to identify the opposite team’s chosen player by name. They can shout that name if they wish, but the main idea is to quickly yell the player's name. 

Then, the person who says the player’s name last moves to join the other team. This game can go back and forth for several rounds, and players will start to react quicker as time passes. However, as soon as one side ends up with all the players, the game is over.

Zoom/Errk

Players sit on chairs in a circle. The first person chosen to start the game will turn to the person on their left, say the word "Zoom," and continue until someone says "Errk." When this happens, the direction shifts to the right. Next, players will turn their heads to the left and pass the word “Errk” down the line. 

Players continue to turn left or right, which depends on which word gets used. It can flip flop with each player or travel around the entire circle until a player flips it around. It is entirely up to each player what word and direction they choose. A player that does not pass the selected word in the right direction is out of the game.

Name Train

Players stand in a circle, facing the inside. One person is making train sounds in the middle of the circle sounds (chug-a-chug-a-chug). The person acting as a train approaches a player, asks for that player’s name then asks if that player would like to join the train. That player then stands behind the one acting as the train, putting hands on their shoulders. 

Suppose the new train member's name is Tommy, and the new two-person train chugs around the circle chanting, "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy…." They stop this when they select another person. The entire process repeats, only if it is the next person’s name that players chant. With enough players, more than one train can start, which will assist in picking teams for another game to follow. This game is easy to take outside to get children outdoors to play.

Final Thoughts

It is not hard to keep children occupied and entertained in daycare. One of the best ways to do this is through gameplay. Arts and crafts are one thing, but participating in active games is another. But you can’t just play any game expecting it to have educational and physical benefits. Thinking games also encourage imagination and innovation.

If you are a daycare caretaker, you already know how important it is to have a selection of games at your disposal. Be sure to add these to your choices and incorporate them whenever you need something a little different. The six games noted above are examples of great games that will make children move, think, and have fun all at the same time.

Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.