Free games to bring to life a 3 year old's birthday party
Here is a little bit of advice that will help you to plan your child's birthday party, as well as some great game ideas. Turning three is an important event, so it should be celebrated in style! Use these games to make sure that that your party is successful!
To download le livret de mes 3 ans (French version) click HERE, or read it in English just below!
At three, a child is still a tiny little person. So you don’t want too many guests nor too many games: the birthday party should just last two hours. Choose very simple games with equally simple rules. Sing, dance and have lots of fun!
Whether it is a girl's or a boy's party, the games are the same: all you need to do is adjust the references (princess or knight). Switch to a new game as soon as you perceive the slightest loss of interest. And remember, never leave the children to their own devices!
For the sake of peace, put away all the toys which may be borrowed by the little guests much to the despair of the birthday boy or girl. It's nearly time, your little angel has transformed into a pirate or a fairy and for the occasion you are wearing a tiara or a top hat (this will impress the children a lot).
The doorbell is ringing, here they are! Welcome the little guests with a touch of "kohl": draw a moustache on the boys and eyelashes on the girls. While you are waiting for the arrival of all the friends, sit down into a circle and get each guest to introduce himself or herself. You start first: "I am Paul’s mum, we’ll be playing together all afternoon..." Each child gives his name, his age, the name of his teacher, his favourite game, his favourite colour, his favourite cartoon, etc. In a mysterious tone of voice, the super parent which you are will then reveal the afternoon's games and the golden rule: we all play together.
To make sure that your gamble pays off, act as the master of ceremonies, explain the games and decide when the changes occur. Obviously, it is better if there are two of you. Everything has been said, everybody is here, let's party!
You will need:
• a soundtrack (with about ten songs) that appeals to your child and especially to you because you are the one who will have to make all the little ones dance!
• some Sellotape (coloured)
• a few cushions
• a broomstick
• and lots of enthusiasm!
The Animal Race
— Everybody at home!!! (Designate a "home" area such as a wall or a piece of furniture where the children stand in line as far as possible from you). I will get you racing!
— Given that it's quite easy, I will make it a little bit more difficult. For the first round, I would like you to jump like kangaroos. The first person who touches me has won! Are you ready?
— Well done! For the second round, I would like you to gallop like horses.
At each new round, you can suggest new steps. Ask the children to jump forward crouching like frogs, to move backwards, to hold hands in pairs, to walk like little mice or to make bunny hops... Make sure that everybody has understood by asking them to show you first.
Cats and Rabbits
— Let's now play "Cats and rabbits". Does anyone know this game?
— I will choose a child who will be the cat. He will have to move like a cat and try to catch the other children who are the rabbits. The rabbits will make bunny hops. All the rabbits which get caught become cats and then move like cats. The rabbit which has not been touched wins the game. Understood?
— So could you show me how cats walk? Well done! And how do rabbits jump? Well done!
— Paul, you are the first cat, you run around like a cat. The others, you are rabbits so you make bunny hops! Ready, steady, go!
If you want, you can give the game another name using other animals such as “dogs and kangaroos" or "frogs and mice". The important thing is to have them move along with different animal steps.
The Little Fish
— Come next to me and sit down. I will teach you the game of the little fish.
— I will choose a fisherman who will fish with me, our arms in the air will be the fishing net. The other children are the fish. The fishermen will shout, "Little fish, little fish!" and count "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" (you will have to determine the final number in secret with the fishermen). Meanwhile, the fish cross the fishing net. Suddenly, the fishermen drop their arms. If they catch a fish, it becomes a fisherman. The fishermen gang gets bigger while there are fewer and fewer fish. The last fish running free has won and will be the first fisherman for the following turn. Understood?
— So get up everybody. Paul, you are the first fisherman, come with me. Fish, go and swim in the sea!
— In a whispering voice: Paul, let's count up to 3.
— Here we go: "Little fish, little fish, 1, 2, 3!" (Drop your arms and congratulate the dreadful sharks which have managed to escape as well as the little fish which have now become great fishermen.)
You can repeat the game 4 or 5 times in a row, children love it!
— Come next to me, we will hold hands and form a circle. On my count of three, everybody sit on the floor: 1, 2, 3! Do you know how to make funny faces?
— Can one of you show me a frightening face? Well done Paul, that was really scary! I am going to make a funny face and my neighbour will try to do his best to mimic it. Then it will be the turn of his neighbour and so on, up to me again. At the end, we will compare the first and the last funny faces! Did you understand?
— Are you ready?
You can make several rounds. At each new round, a new child can make the first funny face. You can suggest to express an emotion like joy, fear, surprise or to imitate animals such as a lion, a fish, a rabbit.
A Little Train Before Tea Time
— Do you know how to make a little train?
— So go one behind the other and tighten your seat belts (put the hands of the second child on the shoulders of the first and so on). You must make sure to not let go! Are you well fastened?
— I will be the train driver (put the hands of the first child on your waist). Let's start the music, here we go...
Move around going slower or faster. You can follow imaginary lines in any direction, curl up like a snail shell, zigzag and head towards the place where you will have tea. It does not last more than five minutes but children love it. Sit them down and lower the music. Background music is enough or none at all!
If you don’t have enough chairs or a table which is not big enough, do not hesitate to lay out the table on the floor as for a picnic.
It's Tea Time
— Sit down. Who would like some apple juice, some milk, some grenadine syrup? Who wants some sweets, cupcakes, tarts? Do you know what we usually sing for a birthday?
— So, let's try together. "Happy birthday…" Perfect, do you know this song in other languages?
When you are ready, initiate the countdown and start singing "Happy birthday to you" to let Paul blow out his candles.
Do not hesitate to make conversation around the children's favourite themes: if they have brothers and sisters, what are their favourite games in the park...
When everybody has finished tea, suggest a small detour via the bathroom and collect your little gang very quickly.
My Favourite Songs
— I would like everybody to sit cross-legged on the floor facing me. We will sing a few songs or tell a story. Who would like to start?
— Me, me!
— I will choose the best at puffing out his cheeks. Margot come next to me, you can bow and we will all clap for you. What are you going to sing?
— Jingle bells.
— I will help you.
— Jingle bells, jingle…
— Great!!! Would anyone else like to sing? And so on.
It is a quiet and moving moment. Some don't know how to bow, you will have to show them how. The children love to be applauded by their friends. Sometimes, they all want to sing the same song. Sometimes, some of them take offence because the other children sing along while others do not dare to sing.
When all the children want to take part in a game, you can tell them that you will choose the child who is best seated cross-legged, who raises his hand the highest, who sticks out his tongue the farthest, who makes the least possible noise... and let them all have a go in the end if they are not too many.
— Do you like dancing?
— Can you freeze like statues?
— I will put some music on so that we can dance together. When I stop the music, I would like you to freeze like statues! Be careful, I will perhaps check if you are real statues by tickling you. First of all, dance like me. Let's call for the music: "Music, music!"
Make simple movements like jumping, waving goodbye, spinning around, flying like a plane, making the wheels go round and round, slapping your legs, your shoulders, your head, moving forwards, backwards… Stop the music and have a close look at the statues.
— For the next statues, I would like you to pose as princesses, monsters, lions… Are you ready?
— Now, let's all dance like Paul. Then like Margot… And as you like!!!
What's the Time Mr Wolf?
— Stand all in front of me. Do you know a game called "What's the time Mr Wolf?"
— So Paul you are Mr Wolf, face the wall please (or a tree). We are the sheep. We stand in line. Together we will ask the time to Mr Wolf "What's the time Mr Wolf?" If Mr Wolf replies "One o'clock!" we make 1 step forward. We will ask him the time again "What's the time Mr Wolf?"
— Paul answers "Three o'clock", so we make 3 steps forward.
The sheep ask the time again and step forward according to the time called out.
— When you get really close to the wolf, Mr Wolf answers "Dinner time!", then turns around and tries to catch you.
The captured sheep becomes the next Mr Wolf! If Mr Wolf does not catch anyone, he has to be Mr Wolf again.
The Crocodile Bridge
— Do you know the game called "Crocodile bridge"?
— I will put cushions on both sides of this Sellotape stripe (or line of books). Imagine that these cushions are crocodiles and that you have to cross the bridge (long straight line) without getting gobbled up!!
— Stand in a line and walk across the bridge one after the other. When the first child has crossed the bridge, the second can start.
If it is too easy, add a cushion on their head and/or a cushion in each hand!
The Brazilian Dance
— As you can see I am holding a broomstick. Do you know what I'm going to use it for?
— It is very easy, stand facing me in a single line, one behind the other. I will hold the broomstick very high and you will have to go under it dancing. After each new round, I will lower the broomstick so that it will get more and more difficult for you to go under. Understood?
— Here we go, let's call for the music: "Music, music, music!!!” Stay in a single line and bend to cross one at a time.
If it becomes a scramble do not hesitate to stop them and settle them back one behind the other. Lower the broom down to ground level (8 to 10 cm from the ground). They love lying down on the floor and crawling.
— Let's now open Paul's presents!!! I would like Paul to come and sit next to me and that you all sit down facing us. Here we go!
— Wow, a jigsaw puzzle! Thank you Margot!
— Paul, would you please give Margot a kiss?
If you have planned presents for the little guests, give them at the very last moment when everybody is ready to leave. You may also write the names of the children on the party bags. This will avoid things taking a dramatic turn!
The party is over but it is not yet time to put everything back in order, you should let this unique moment last. Hang the garlands in the bedroom and leave the balloons lying about...
Memories of my 3-year Birthday
The presents received for
my 3-year Birthday