Action Games

Simon Says

Elimination – All Ages – 

Simon Says is an old favourite and is also known as “O’Grady Says”. One player is chosen as the leader, and the others stand around the room in front of him or her. The leader then gives commands that the others should either follow or ignore, depending on how the command is given. If the leader begins the command with ‘Simon says’, then everyone should carry out his or her command. For example, if he or she says, ‘Simon says touch your toes’, then the others should bend over and touch their toes. If, however, the leader just says, ‘Touch your toes’, then the order should be ignored. If someone follows an order that did not have ‘Simon says’ before it, then he or she is eliminated.

The leader can also mislead the other players by giving out the orders very fast, by carrying out himself or herself commands that were not preceded by ‘Simon says’, or by creating a rhythm of orders in a pattern that is then suddenly broken by a wrong command. The last player to be caught out is the winner and takes the place of the leader. This game should not be played too long, otherwise the children will get bored.

Do This, Do That !

Elimination – All Ages – 

This is played in the same way as Simon Says except that the leader proceeds his or her orders with either ‘Do this’ or ‘Do that’. If the command is ‘Do this’, then all the players should copy his or her actions. If it is ‘Do that’, then they should remain still. As above, this game should not be played too long, otherwise the children will get bored.

Follow the Leader

Non Elimination – 3-7 years – 

This is a very a popular old game that has been played by children down the ages. Someone is chosen as leader and all the others line up behind. The leader then starts walking, with the others following in his or her footsteps. The followers have to copy every move the leader makes, so if the leader sticks out his or her arms and pretends to fly, or if the leader decides to crawl on his or her belly like a snake, everyone else must do the same. The game can be very amusing indeed, depending on the imagination of the leader! Try to find some suitable music to play in the background to keep the interest for those that may just want to dance.

Jump in the Ditch

Elimination – 3-4 years  – 

This is a simple version of Simon Says. To play, a line of cushions must first be laid out along the middle of the floor. The area on one side of the cushions is called ‘the bank’ and the area on the other side is called ‘the ditch’. The players line up on the bank side, and one player is chosen to call out instructions. The instructions can either be ‘on the bank’ or ‘in the ditch’, and the players have to follow them by jumping across the cushions to the appropriate side. The person calling instructions, however, can trick people by calling out the same instruction twice in a row. If a player jumps to the wrong side, therefore, then he or she is out of the game. The winner is the last person to be caught out.

Grandmother’s Footsteps

Non Elimination – 3-7 years – 

In this game one person is chosen to be Grandmother and stands, with eyes shut, facing a wall. The other players line up at the opposite side of the room and, when everyone is ready, begin to creep up behind Grandmother. Whenever Grandmother turns around, however, everyone in the room has to freeze like a statue. Grandmother may look around as often as he or she likes, and when he or she catches someone moving then that person has to go back to the wall and begin again. The first player to touch the wall wins and takes the next turn at being Grandmother.


Elimination – 8+ years – 

Originally from the West Indies, this acrobatic test of suppleness is a great favourite among children of all ages. To play, a stick is held horizontally by two people at about chest height. All the players then have a turn bending backwards and edging themselves forward with the chest lowered in order to ‘limbo’ under the stick. If a player touches the ground or the stick then he or she is eliminated, although usually it is more fun to give everyone a few attempts at getting under. After each round the stick is lowered a little, and the person who can stay in the game the longest is the winner.

The Bean Game

Elimination – 8-10 years – 

In this game each player is given five beans and circulates around the room asking or answering other simple questions. The answers that are given to these questions must not be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If either of these words is used then one bean must be handed over to the person asking the questions. If a player loses all his or her beans then he or she is eliminated. The winner is the person who has the most beans in his or her possession after a set period of time.

Triangular Tug-of-War

Elimination – 8-10 years – 

This is a game for three players. A length of rope about one metre long is made into a circle. The players position themselves around the rope and hold it taut, forming a triangle. A handkerchief is placed just out of reach of each player. On the word ‘Go!’ the players try. to pick up the handkerchief nearest them without letting go of the rope. The first to pick up his or her handkerchief is the winner.

Bobbing for Apples

Non Elimination – 5-10 years – 

This is a game that is traditionally played at Halloween, although there is no reason why it cannot be enjoyed at any other time. A bucket or large basin, half filled with water, is required along with a number of apples. The apples are placed in the water. One at a time each guest leans over the bucket or basin as they attempt to grab an apple with their teeth. If successful, the guest keeps the apple.

This game should always be supervised by an adult.

Apple on a String

Non Elimination – 3-10 years – 

This is another game traditionally played at Halloween. A number of apples, or sticky buns (which makes the game easier), are suspended at head height from strings hanging from a longer piece of string stretching across a room. The party guests then try to eat the apple with their hands held behind their backs. The first person to eat his or her apple down to the core – or finish off their bun – is the winner.