Games and Activities to Get Your (Small)Child Moving

Children’s Games as Found on

This section is from the book “If You Live with Little Children”, by Carolyn Kauffman and Patricia Farrell. Also available from Amazon: If You Live with Little Children.

Cartoon of children hanging onto a rope The following games are suitable to preschool-aged children, if they are allowed to play them in their own way.

Small children never get tired of the repetition of London Bridge. When the bridge falls down on the fair lady, she continues to go under and doesn’t follow the more complicated method of joining behind one one of the bridges. In Musical Chairs, when the music stops and the child is left without a chair, he stays in the game and the game proceeds without removing the child or another chair.

In guessing games, children “tell,” in hiding games, they peek. But it is fun for them and you will only bewilder them by trying to impose stricter rules or organization into their games.

Circle Games

Cobbler Cobbler: One child stands in the center of the circle with his eyes covered. The other children pass a shoe behind their backs and chant:

Cobbler, Cobbler, mend my shoe, Have it done by half past two, Stitch it up, and stitch it down, Now see where my shoe is found.

The person in the center guesses who is holding the shoe behind him and then that person is “it.”

Variation: The children can pass a marble from hand to hand, while the one who is “it” has left the room. All the children sit with their hands clenched and “it” guesses who has the marble.

Drop the Handkerchief: Children form a circle. One child runs (or walks) around the outside of the circle and drops the handkerchief behind one of the other children. That child picks up the handkerchief and tries to tag the first child before he gets back to his place.

Woof-Woof: While the child who is “it” is in the next room, the others decide who will be the “woof-woof.” When “it” returns, the children are sitting in a circle with their hands covering their faces. The child selected then says, “Woof-woof” trying to disguise his voice and his position. When “it” guesses who the “woof-woof” is, the “woof-woof” becomes “it.”

arm of a guitar

Musical Games

Farmer in the Dell: The children form a circle and one child is selected to be the farmer. He stands in the center of the circle while the song is sung.

The farmer in the dell The farmer in the dell Heigho! the derry oh, The farmer in the dell.

The farmer picks a wife The farmer picks a wife Heigho! the derry oh! The farmer picks a wife.

At the end of this verse, the child in the center chooses one of the children to be his wife and she joins him in the middle of the circle. The verse is sung again, and at the conclusion, the wife chooses a child, and the child chooses a nurse, and the nurse a dog, and the dog a cat, and the cat a mouse, and the mouse a cheese, and the cheese stands alone.

London Bridge: Two children form a bridge by holding their hands together above their heads. The other children walk under the bridge singing this verse:

London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady.

The bridge collapses on the one child on the final line, “My fair lady.”

image of san francisco bridge

Ring-Around-a-Rosey: Children form a circle, join hands, and sing:

Ring-Around-a-Rosey Pocket full of posey Ashes, Ashes, all fall down. They all fall down on the last line.

Merry-Go-Round: The children gallop around in a circle singing this rhyme:

The merry-go-round went round and round, And the children laughed and laughed. So many were going round and round, That the merry-go-round collapsed. At the word “collapsed,” everyone sits on the floor.

Musical Chairs: Put two rows of chairs together, back to back. The children walk around the chairs while the music is playing and when the music stops, all hurry to get in a chair, because there is one less chair than child.

Musical Bean Bag: The children stand in a circle and pass a bean bag from hand to hand around the circle. When the music stops, the child left holding the bean bag either steps inside the circle, outside the circle, or continues to play.

Looby Loo: This action game is very popular with small children. It is not necessary to have the record. Children join hands and walk around the circle singing:

Here we go Looby Loo Here we go Looby Lie Here we go Looby Loo All on a Saturday Night. Children drop hands and sing:

I put my right foot in
I take my right foot out
I give my foot a shake, shake, shake
And turn myself about.

Chorus again of “Here we go Looby Loo,” followed by same action as above, using: left foot in and out-right hand in and out left hand in and out-little head in and out whole self in and out.

Hokey Pokey: A musical game very similar to Looby Loo, but not as effective without the record.

You put your right foot in,
You take your right foot out,
You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about, (clap this last line out).

This first verse is performed with all the children standing in a circle. You “Hokey Pokey” by raising your hands above your head and shaking them as you turn a full circle.

Repeat the above verse and action using: left foot in and out right hand in and out left hand in and out right elbow in and out left elbow in and out right hip in and out left hip in and out whole self in and out backside in and out

The game ends by doing the Hokey Pokey twice (this time raising arms from above the head to the floor), continuing to Hokey Pokey down on your knees, and slapping the floor on the final line, “That’s what it’s all about.”

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