Family Activities, Toys, and Games

See Also: Arts, Crafts, and Music

Children, Teen, and Family Indoor/Outdoor Games

30 Classic Games for Simple Outdoor Play by Jenny Williams
www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/08/simpleoutdoorplay/
Lists and describes 30 classic kids’ games of all types.

Activity Corner – Kids Party Games
www.kidspot.com.au/kids-activities-and-games/party-games+7.htm
Choose to view lists sorted by age, scroll down through their basic list of links or select ‘view all’ for a very long list of all kinds of party games and tricks for kids and their families and friends.

Charades from Fun-Stuff-To-Do
www.fun-stuff-to-do.com/charades.html
Find ideas and different versions of this classic group game.

Families with Purpose – Charades Rules
www.familieswithpurpose.com/charades.html
Rules and allowed gestures for each category in charades.

Family Fun – Playtime
http://familyfun.go.com/playtime/
Lists and links of all kinds of fun and games, from categories like language-based, sporty, silly, tabletop, seasonal, travel, and more.

Fun Games Kids Play
www.fungameskidsplay.com/
Offers categories of games: outdoor games, travel games, splash / water games and even how to pick who’s “it” as well as “All the best jump rope rhymes, lots of tag variations and instructions on how to play jacks.”

Go Outside and Play! {From the Wilderness Society}
http://wilderness.org/article/go-outside-and-play
Read the blog, watch introductory videos, and make a pledge to spend time outside with your children and family, as well as find ideas for how to get going through these links: Tips for nature walking, Tips for family-friendly wilderness fun, 10 tips for hiking with kids, Insider tips for camping, Tips from the Children and Nature Network for starting a family nature club, and more!

Kids Games
www.gameskidsplay.net/Default.htm
Classic family and kids games, with categories such as jump rope, rhyming, jacks and marbles, ball, circle, chase, mental, sensing, strength, international and other games – each with many games within the category and all with a simple explanation.

Jump Rope Rhymes
www.gameskidsplay.net/jump_rope_ryhmes/
Words and instructions to almost 50 classic jumprope rhymes.

Kid’s Guide to Easy String Games
www.alysion.org/figures/introkids.htm

See also: www.alysion.org/figures/string.htm
Info about string games and more advanced games, as well as a directory to find string performers.

New Games
http://inewgames.com/
View video enactments of these games, popularized in the 70′s as cooperative group games, download 3 sample games, or find out how to purchase the books about these fun games.

Party Games by Illinois University Extension
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/party/games.html
Good list of classic group and family games.

Square Four – Official Four Square Game and Rules
www.squarefour.org/rules

String Games by Arvindgupta
www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/stringgames.pdf
Downloadable pdf booklet with extensive list and instructions for hand and string games for children.

Family Activities

365 Unplugged Family Fun Activities (Book)
www.amazon.com/365-Unplugged-Family-Activities-Entertainment/dp/0738210005

A to Z Home’s Cool Homeschooling Sewing Lessons for Teens
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/explore/sewing.htm
Offers lists of website for sewing lessons, quilting, and sewing projects for teens and adults – and some suitable for younger children.

Activity Cupboard
www.mothers-home.com/activities/sherri2.htm
Extensive list of crafts by age, type, material, holiday, alphabetical by theme or topic, and more.

AFS Intercultural Programs
www.afsusa.org/host-family
Learn how to become a ‘host family’ to a high school student from one of 90 participating countries, receive support, and learn about other cultures.

All Together Singing in the Kitchen
www.amazon.com/All-Together-Singing-Kitchen-Creative/dp/1590308980/ref=pd_sim_m_1
Popular book which encourages families to sing and learn music together, with over thirty songs (with lyrics, chords, and audio recordings) musical games, and tips on playing instruments.

Animated Knots by Grog
www.animatedknots.com/
View photographic animations of how to tie various knots – choose from: Basics, Fishing, Boating, Climbing, Scouting, Rescue, Household, Decorative, to find many types in each category.

‘Best Homeschooling’
www.besthomeschooling.org/gateway/inted12.html
Links to websites with all kinds of family fun activities including Outings, Holidays, and Crafts, with Links to games & puzzles, (like jump-roping, string games, etc.) camping, play & activities, and more.

Bubbleblowers Homemade Bubble Solutions
http://bubbleblowers.com/homemade.html
Several different recipes for these super bubbles.

Children’s Nature Guide
www.childrensnatureguide.com/index.html
Website with suggestions for things families can do together in nature, encouraging them to observe, read about, play in, and make crafts. Offers a short book list (including his own publication: KK’S Hope: For Humankind and Home, By Josef Partners about “KK, a young girl gray squirrel, who offers children a few gentle environmental lessons…and general encouragement to explore nature together.”

DIY Waterworks – M M Pinterest Page
http://pinterest.com/mlm504/diy-water-works/
A great selection of images and links to easy and fun family water activities, such as tin-foil rivers, bubbles and bubble art, fairy jars, water bead sensory tub, and all things water-related.

Education.com
www.education.com/activity/games/
Kid’s activities and games for family and group play, including categories of indoor, outdoor, pool, fitness, and ball games.

Educational Resource Center of Santa Cruz
http://edusource.wetpaint.com/
Offers: classes and workshops for parents and educators on many topics, enrichment classes for children, as well as consultation on educational issues, local resources, blog, access to tools, (die cut machine, binder, copier, and laminator) and a rotating selection of educational toys, games, materials, and learning activities for your pre-K through sixth grade children (Help for homeschoolers, parents, tutors, and teachers.)  Links to tutorial videos for crafts also.

Family Education
www.fun.familyeducation.com/
Ideas for crafts, games, and more.

Family Fun (Disney)
www.familyfun.go.com/
Crafts, cooking, play ideas, getaways, and printables for activities for the whole family.

Family Meetings and Special Time
www.aap.org/disasters/pdf/FamilyMtgsHandout.pdf
Explains how to set-up and run family meetings and special time with a child.

Folk Toys
www.funsci.com/fun3_en/toys/toys.htm#contents
Classic toys families can make out of simple objects around the house, like string, cardboard, and rubber bands – all kinds of toys children played with in by-gone days in the U.S. but still are played by children around the world, who can’t buy manufactured toys.

For Small Hands – A Resource For Families
www.forsmallhands.com/
Good list of Montessori-inspired toys, garden supplies, tools, housekeeping, sewing and weaving, arts and crafts, and other activities – all for sale, but also a good source of child activities.

Foxfire
www.foxfire.org/
Check out this site to find out about the books and magazines that have been created by young students about Appalachian Life. The many books offer info about home arts and activities that families can still do today.

Game Crafter – Make Your Own Games!
www.thegamecrafter.com
Purchase or create your own custom-made card and board games – just for your family or offer them up for sale.  You can just order one game or produce any number of them to sell to others, of any type, including adventure-based, educational, role-playing, and other types of games.

Heddi’s ‘Hands on Learning’ Blog
http://handsonlearning.parentclickblogs.com/
Parents’ blog on great resources for enrichment materials and activities, as a homeschooling family or for any family.

International Cultural Exchange Services
www.icesusa.org/exchange-program/host-families
1-800-344-3566
Host a student from a foreign country and offer your family the chance to learn about another culture.

Kids Activities Blog
http://kidsactivitiesblog.com
Blog about activities to do with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and young children – focusing on themes, types of activities, and for school or homeschool family fun.

Lots-of-Kids-Games
www.lots-of-kids-games.com/index.html
About 25 categories of games (such as classic tag, hide-and-seek, relay race, sidewalk, sports, pool, car, party, paper, and word and matching games) for all ages that can played indoors or outside.

Nature Rocks
www.naturerocks.org/
Find information, articles and encouragement for family nature activities, as well as use their national search tool to find local places to visit. You can also search for activities to do by place, ages, type, and time needed. And you can even start a nature lovers group with their free downloadable Nature Rocks Flocks Guide.

Nurture Store’s 100 fun kids activities for Screen-Free Week
http://nurturestore.co.uk/screen-free-week-kids-activities
Click on any item on this colorful list of family activities to see photos and ‘how-to’s for things like under the sea play dough, ‘maths cocktails” or junk model space rockets.

Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT)
www.raft.net/
Offers resources to teachers, child-care providers, parents and others, including hands-on learning ideas, resources, activity kits, workshops, support videos, publications, and a ‘green room’ where there is equipment and support to help you create your own lesson materials. Homeschooling families are also welcome.

RAFT’s downloadable Idea Sheets are here - tons of ideas for every subject (for home study, school, or fun time)

RAFT Tour Videos can be viewed here

Science Toy Maker
http://sciencetoymaker.org/
Find inexpensive or free easy to make science toys, with video instructions and/or step-by-step instructions with images, as well as a “more about” page with historical information about each experiment.

Teach Mama – Learning in the Every Day
http://teachmama.com/
Find a blog, suggestions and printable lesson plans on teaching through home activities (for afterschool or homeschool) as well as the lists of activities by subject or by type of activity.

“Toys from Trash” by Arvindgupta
www.arvindguptatoys.com/toys.html
Find hundreds of simple, inexpensive projects demonstrating many science topics, as well as make fun string games and toys, simple musical instruments, and special design toys. Each project has images and a one-minute film to demonstrate.

Unplug Your Kids
www.unplugyourkids.com/
Offers Blog, monthly communal family ‘unplugged’ project suggestions with comments by people who tried them, all of which are archived with images for you to view.

Unplugged Play (Book by Bobbi Conner)
www.parentsjournal.com/unpluggedplay/index.php
Information about the book of 710 games and activities that inspire imagination and creativity.

Educational Games

Games Lists:

A to Z’s Home’s Cool Games Lists
Games for Kids
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/explore/games.htm

Logic Games
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/explore/logic.htm

Board Game Ratings.com – Award Winners
www.boardgameratings.com/award_winners.php?award_type=BGR
Check list from current year or search previous years winners.

Board Games.com
www.boardgames.com/
Find tons of classic and new games of all kinds that are available to purchase.

Card Games Lists
Amazon’s Card Game List

Pagat’s Card Games List
www.pagat.com/
Look through their extensive alphabetical list of card games from all over the world and even games through different times. Includes rules and variations of each game.

Google’s List of Books on Card Games
http://books.google.com/books/about/101_Best_Family_Card_Games.html?id=XEXgyWR1n2gC

Cooperative Games.com
http://cooperativegames.com/
Click on ‘shop’ to see their children’s toys and their ‘cooperative’ games lists.

EcoChoices Eco ToyTown
www.ecotoytown.com/games/7toAdult.html
Here’s their list of cooperative games, listed by age group, along with great images and description of each game.

Educational Learning Games
www.educationallearninggames.com
Lists of all kinds of games, and ordering information. Especially check out the logic, strategy and Mensa games, as well as the many math, reading and spelling games.

Family Pastimes
www.familypastimes.com/index.html
Long-time Canadian maker of ‘cooperative’ games for children and teens; buy from them directly or purchase from local stores or online at Cooperative Games.com (above)

Gamewright Card and Board Games
www.gamewright.com
Offers over popular 50 popular (many award-winning) card games, for all age ranges, with favorite card games like Slamwich and Frog Juice.

Hoagies Gifted Education Games Lists
Card Games
www.hoagiesgifted.org/smart_card_games.htm

Strategy Games List
www.hoagiesgifted.org/smart_strategy_games.htm

MindTrap Games
www.mindtrapgames.com/Framesets/ProductsFS.html
Collection of the popular MindTrap games includes the original with mysteries, logic puzzles, and trick questions; the 2nd version has visual puzzles and the last has jigsaw puzzles.

‘Mind Games’ by Mensa
http://mindgames.us.mensa.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Winning_Games&Template=/customsource/mindgames/winners_list.cfm
Lists award-winning games by year that are deemed worthy of the Mensa seal of approval. Also offers weekend-long games workshop for Mensa members.

Mindware
www.mindware.com/Home/HomePage.aspx
Games that encourage award-winning brain-development appropriate games and activities for all ages, including Mensa Award-winning ‘Quirkle’. Also offers classroom resources, early learning, building sets, hands-on puzzles, physical activities and games, and science and nature.

Parents Choice – Childrens Media and Toy Reviews
www.parents-choice.org/default.cfm
Find their picks for year’s best AudioBooks, DVDs, Magazines, Mobile Apps, Software, Television,Toys, Video Games, and Websites.

Rio Grande Games
www.riograndegames.com/games.html
22 categories of games for children through adults, such as abstract strategy, auction, card, city-building, memory, map-building, medieval, negotiation, race, risk-taking, set-collecting, and more! Bohananza is a group game of bean sellers and traders, and Carcassone is a tile game where players develop a city.

Search for previous years’ winners here

SET Games
www.setgame.com/
Learn about SET, 5 Crowns, Quiddler, Xactica and other challenging games, as well as a daily puzzler offered online.

The Squiggle Game
www.randomline.com/Games/SQUIGGLEGame.aspx
Play this game with a group or on your own to develop visual perceptual skills. Also try their Squiggle Alphabet and Squiggle Connect games.

ThinkFun
www.thinkfun.com/
Relatively inexpensive and often easy to take along games for building skills in reasoning, visual, memory, logic, verbal and math for all age groups, including the well known “Rush Hour” and many others.

Educational Games Suggestions – by Nancy

See also “Games Lists” section above

Links below take you to manufacturer’s website, reviewers website, or gamesellers websites.

Classic Games

Checkers

Chess

Connect Four

Dominoes and variations

Logic/Strategy Games

Backgammon

Battleship

Blokus

Bohnanza

Carcassonne

Frog Juice™

Go

Labyrinth

Lotus – look for this at yard sales or online sales

Mancala

Mastermind

MindTrap

Mummy Rummy

Pentago

Quarto

Quirkle

Rat-a-Tat-Tat

Rummikub

Rush Hour

Sequence

Set

Settlers of Catan

Slamwich™

Stratego

Social Games

Apples to Apples

Clue

Cranium Games

Cranium Hoopla

Ticket to Ride

Word Games

Balderdash Banangrams Boggle

Scattergories

Scrabble Quiddler

Other Games

Mummy Rummy

Ravensburger – all Games

Rivers, Roads, and Rails

Ticket to Ride

Educational Toys

Educational Toy Store Locator USA:
http://find.mapmuse.com/map/toys-ed
Use this interactive map and click on the blue squares to find Educational Toy Stores near your home.

Lakeshore Educational Toys and Products
www.lakeshorelearning.com
Find quality educational toys and materials for parents, homeschoolers, or teachers;  search by category, child’s age, or grade.  Check out language arts activities such as “Twist and Learn” 3-letter word builders, “Dino-Dig Excavation Kit” and “Build and Learn Geometry Kit” or search for tons of other items.  Search stores in your area or order online.

Building Sets

Barclay Blocks
www.barclaywoods.com/
Classic building blocks made from hard maple. The hard block sets are really ideal for long time use. These are an example of the kid-favorite blocks from all times.

Blocklets Building Sets
www.blocklets.com/
Interlocking birch wood and acrylic building sets created by an artist and engineer – a modular system for making simple or intricate sculptures.

Brio Toys and Trainsets
www.brio.net/ToPlay.aspx
Crafted wooden toys and trains for toddlers and up.

Capsela and Gigo Construction Sets
www.captoy.eu/toys/capsela-358/
www.captoy.eu/toys/gigo-construction-toys-361/
Build Vehicles and Science Sets “with motor, gear wheels, leads, solar cells, pumps. or you may build geometric figures with rods or coloured 3-, 4,- or 5- edging plates.”

Child Mode – Waldorf Inspired Building Toys
www.childmode.com/2011/07/12/waldorf-round-up-building-blocks-that-encourage-free-play/
Blog with information and images for child’s set of tree branch blocks, barkless tree blocks, interlocking modular wall blocks, rod and pole fences, and colored Waldorf blocks.

Or see Etsy Waldorf Inspired Hand Made Blocks here:
www.etsy.com/search?includes%5B%5D=tags&q=Waldorf+Blocks

Connectagons
www.hearthsong.com/connectagons-creative-building-sets_p9071.html
Colorful discs sold by Hearthsong, which can be fitted together to make tall towers, twisted shapes, polyhedrons, as well as curved and flat constructions. Lots of discs for a relatively low price.

Construction Toys List – by Hoagies Gifted Education Page
www.hoagiesgifted.org/smart_construction_toys.htm
A fairly comprehensive list of good classic and modern construction toys for chlidren.

Edmund Scientifics
www.scientificsonline.com/robotics.html
Robotics sets (from low to high priced) children can build and then use.
Other kinds of science sets are offered on this website as well at http://www.scientificsonline.com/

Erector Sets
www.erectorusa.com/
Classic building toys with some new twists.

Kapla Building Sets
www.kaplaus.com/
Uses small flat planks of untreated wood that are “placed one on top of the other” and “are held in place by gravity and balance alone.” Make just about any kind of structure.

K-Nex Building Toys
www.knex.com/
Building sets, vehicles, thrill ride sets (rollercoasters and ferris wheel) and other kits.

Lego Bricks and More
http://creative.lego.com/en-US/default.aspx?icmp=COFranchiseUSBricksMore
View building set, download building instructions, find info in the “Parents Corner” on how to help your child, try the “Creative Builder Game” or share your latest creations with others.

MAGZ Magnetic Construction Toys
http://www.magz.com/index.html
Learn about their toys, post a photo or view their photo gallery for ideas, and purchase magnetic building sets.

MAKEDO –  
http://mymakedo.com
Get their ingenious sets of connectors to “make play objects, kid’s costumes, furniture, decorations for the home and well, just about anything you can think of from the materials around you, such as cardboard, plastic and fabric to easily join together to form new objects or structures.”  Materials can be re-used over and over.

Mommy the ToyMaker
http://mommythetoymaker.com/2010/07/make-tree-blocks/
Blog with photographs and directions on how to make Waldorf-inspired building blocks from tree branches.

Playmobil USA
http://store.playmobilusa.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-US-Site
Check out the site for catalog of fantasy and real-life themed plastic playsets of farm animals, space, pirate, ocean, castle, emergency workers, family, and many more popular sets. Purchase at local toy stores or order online (sometimes there are good deals on bagged sets in stores or online.)

Quadro Construction Sets
www.creativekidstuff.com/quadro.html
Build large scale “interchangeable and reconfigurable” structures for fun or create play spaces for children with these modular sets.

Quercetti
www.quercettistore.com/en/prodotti-linee
Build toys and structures, create designs or do puzzles with these colorful sets.

Whitney Brothers Quarter “School” Block Set
www.whitneybros.com/product-catalog/21
Classic hardwood set, with 170 pieces.

Other Toys

Dr. Toy’s Guide
www.drtoy.com/main/index.html
Check out this comprehensive guide with lists like: ‘Best Classic Toys,’ ‘Best Products of 2010,’ ‘Green Products,’ and also local lists like ‘Best Bay Area Playthings’ and ‘Bay Area Toy Companies,’ as well as reviews and links to other resources.

EcoChoices EcoToyTown
www.ecotoytown.com/
Offers ‘green’ toys, stuffed animals, games, and other children’s products for infants on up to teens.

Folkmanis Puppets
www.folkmanis.com/index.php
Puppets are a favorite child and family activitiy. View and purchase these quality hand puppets on their website or purchase in local stores (such as Kaleidoscope) or use their search to find retailers in your area.

HABA Toys (at Blueberry Forest Toys)
www.blueberryforest.com/haba_toys/haba_toys.htm
Fantasy play, baby and toddler, building sets, and other unique playthings.

Hearthsong
www.hearthsong.com/
Offers catalog of developmentally appropriate toys, arts and crafts, games, imaginary play, educational, and other fun stuff.

Knitting Mushroom
www.bellalunatoys.com/gluckskafer-knitting-mushroom.html
Classic bright red wooden toy mushroom spool has 4 prongs to wind yarn around, making tubes of knitted yarn that can be fashioned into all kinds of useful things like scarves, small rugs, and toys.

And find directions here for getting started and making projects OR find how to make your own knitting spool.
http://blog.iharder.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Knitting-Mushroom-censored.pdf

Lauri Foam Puzzles for Children
www.squidoo.com/lauri-toys
Pegboards, lacing activities, alphabet, and many other puzzles and toys.

Magic Cabin
www.magiccabin.com/
Offers a selection of American Made and European inspired toys, games, arts and crafts, dolls and many wooden toys and fairy playthings, with an emphasis on creative and fantasy play.

Mindtwister Toys
http://pentago.com/games/
Logic and strategy games such as Pentago (and its variations) Quadrago and Colorio, as well as others.

Mindware Toys
www.mindware.com/Home/HomePage.aspx
See all kinds of educational and fun toys, games, crafts, building sets, fantasy play, science and nature, vehicle sets, and physical play toys.

Mommy the Toy Maker 
http://mommythetoymaker.com
Blog on how to make your own Waldorf-inspired toys such as felt dolls and landscapes, and blocks.

Montessori Services
http://www.montessoriservices.com/
Offers products for sale for Montessori-based children’s work and play activities, (including pouring and transferring, washing and cleaning, food preparation, yard and garden, sewing and weaving, woodworking, and more.

Osterheimer Toys
www.ostheimertoys.com/shop/index.html
Waldorf-style German wooden toys made with natural non-toxic colors, offer creative play with their sets of people, animals, and environments.

Paper Airplances
www.paperairplanes.co.uk/planes.php
Find ‘how-to’ videos and instruction sheets for 25 paper airplane models.

Parents Choice – Childrens Media and Toy Reviews
www.parents-choice.org/allawards.cfm
Find their picks for year’s best AudioBooks, DVDs, Magazines, Mobile Apps, Software, Television,Toys, Video Games, and Websites.

Search for previous years’ winners here

Printable Mazes for Kids
www.printactivities.com/Mazes.html
Fun to do and helpful for developing eye-hand coordination and visual perceptual skills; you can use these as a pre-reading activity.

Ravensburger Global Puzzles and Games
www.ravensburger.com/usa/home/index.html
Find catalog of games, puzzles and other products for all ages of children; purchase from local or online vendors.
Beautiful images and fine educational quality.

Sensory Smart Toys – for Developing Sensory Integration
Fine Motor/Visual
http://sensorysmarts.com/toys_and_equipment.html

Gross Motor
http://sensorysmarts.com/toys_and_equipment.html

Speil and Holtz by Grimm’s
www.finewoodentoys.com/grimms
Waldorf-inspired fine wooden toy sets, puzzles, and learning materials.

Story Time Felts
www.funfelt.com/
Offers many story felt kits for children, with themes like farm-themed, holiday, social studies, multi-cultural, stories, plain felt boards , printed felt boards, and more. Also sells puppets, science learning felts, and other items

The Toymaker’s Workshop – Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself
www.thetoymaker.com/2Toys.html
Find free folk-style paper designs to download, print, and cut-out. Then make animal or bug friends, fairies and magical items, math and learning toys, whimsical toys like the ‘cootie-catcher’ and toys that move.

Whitney Brothers Imaginative Play Sets
www.whitneybros.com/
Childrens’ fantasy play furniture sets, play houses, and other children’s toys.