Following my previous post about decorations for N’s upcoming ‘non-birthday’ party, I thought I’d share the preschool party activities I had planned for it (plus a couple of others).

5 tips for preschool parties

So much is dependent on the weather for parties in the UK.  Our party was held at N’s nursery tree house in their forest school, and with the children only being 3, I expected them to merely run around like pre-schoolers are wont to do, playing on the trampoline, climbing frame and pirate ship.  But I did arrange a couple of ideas if they got bored of running amok or in case of rain.

playing-on-the-log-train.

1. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger or treasure hunts can be great for any age, and they’re really versatile so you can make them harder for older children or adults.  For N’s party, I’ve done some sheets with simple, obvious natural items that should be (hopefully) found in forest school.

scavenger hunt sheet
My scavenger hunt sheet (they have a pirate ship and flag at forest school)

If you don’t put wildflowers or animals on there you can ask them to bring the items back to you, or adults can tick off what they find.  An alternative would be to put out pictures of the item in the area they can be found – eg a pine cone picture next to lots of pine cones, and they could each take a copy of the picture once they find the item and the picture.

There’re plenty of resources online for the different types of scavenger hunts you can do or you can download/print my scavenger hunt.

2. Parachute games

Playing parachute games takes me back to my youth when I was in Woodcraft Folk.  I think nowadays they’re a lot more prevalent in toddler groups and schools, as they’re great for listening, teamwork, and just having fun.  I found some great reminders of games online, but I planned to do a simple ‘mushroom’ up and down lifting of the parachute, and the ‘popcorn’ game where the children bounce toys or balls on the parachute, trying to bounce them off.

There’s also a game where they have to roll a ball (or two), round the edge of the parachute, like a Mexican wave, but that’s better for older children.

3. Pass the parcel

A party isn’t a party without pass the parcel.  When we were children there was just the one prize, but at this age it’s handy to have something small inside each layer like some sweets and let each child open a layer.  This was the one game we played at the party.  My tip is to blend your music in, or plan a stop when the track ends.  N had chosen The Sugababes instead of nursery rhymes (he turned down S Club 7!), but they got a bit confused when the track finished!  Ooops.

It’s quite hard to get little ones to stay sitting down once they’ve opened their layer, but the 3 year olds did really well, all sitting down quietly…maybe knowing that lunch was on its way.

4. Colouring in/activity sheets

Now, N isn’t usually that keen on drawing or colouring, but he’s just go into learning to write ‘N’.   I thought some of the children might have wanted to sit down for a bit, so I printed out some colouring in sheets, provided some pens.  I didn’t think they would use them, but after wondering where N and a couple of the others were, I went to the treehouse to find the three of them had got out the paper and pens and were drawing and colouring.  Well, N was writing Ns all over a couple of the scavenger hunt pages, but it was sweet to see.

writing and activity sheets

5. Dancing

N does love to dance, but it’s very much on his terms, so I’m not sure whether he would dance at a party if there was music on.  Given he was fussy about the music I used for pass the parcel, I dread to think how stubborn he’d be about dancing music.  But some pre-schoolers love to dance and will quite happily jump around and wiggle if there’s music on.  I think it’s worth taking along a music player and a party playlist in case of a) rain and you find everyone having to come indoors, or b) they need some calming down, and musical statues might be an alternative.

In the end we didn’t really need many specific party activities as the children enjoyed playing outside with the play equipment that was around them.

forest school treehouse party
rope swing
ride ons in forest school
bouncing on the trampoline

What are your tips for preschool party activities?

52 Comments

  1. Pingback: Goodreads #33 - darktea

  2. Great ideas – my kiddos really enjoy parachute time when we do it at gym tots. It’s so hard to come up with engaging ideas when they’re still so little.

    • I got the idea from our year of doing Rhythm Time as they used to bounce toys to music on the parachute. Definitely a good idea for all ages….when we used to do the games we were early secondary school.

  3. What great ideas! I pinned the scavenger hunt sheet so I can do this when I have kids 🙂

    • Great, You might need to amend unless you hang up a pirate flag somewhere, but it’s a good start point

    • If you can’t guarantee the weather, you always need a back up just in case.

  4. Alex | Thrifty Below

    I used to love those parachute games! Brings me back to field day in elementary school!

    • It’s always good to reminisce, especially when it’s games that are still popular now

  5. These are great for even more than parties. They’re fabulous ideas and I totally love the scavenger hunt thing!

    • Thanks. Yes scavenger hunts or treasure hunts can definitely be adapted to suit the event

  6. Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver

    What great ideas for a kids birthday party! They look like they had so much fun, your little boy is very lucky!

    • Thansk. He did have a great time. Told me afterwards he was going to have another party. I’m hoping I can get away with playdates!

  7. Leira Pagaspas

    I love this idea.. I don’t have a preschooler but I will use this idea for my daughter’s 7th birthday party.

    • They can easily be adapted for older children, that’s what’s great about them. Or even for adults as team building or just fun events

  8. Fun ideas for little ones. They are at that age of curiosity so these are perfect!

    • Definitely, and great for teaching them turns, sharing, following instructions etc.

  9. Rebecca Swenor

    Great ideas because they are learning and having fun doing it. Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s great when you find educational games and they don’t realise they’re learning at the same time. Thanks for stopping by

  10. These are nontraditional ways of celebrating a child’s birthday. Another one I can add on is to visit kids at an orphanage or the elderly at a senior’s home. In this way, the child would learn to appreciate more blessings.

    • Not sure kids of this age would appreciate or understand this. They just want to play. I also think children should learn compassion during everyday life, and would probably relate more to charitable collections/making Christmas boxes up – my son’s nursery do that at Christmas making up boxes of presents – simple everyday items- for children without much. I think a birthday should be about fun and celebration for themselves, not other people.

  11. Pre-school parties are so much fun! Pass the parcel is a must -have game for little ones even though sometimes it can be traumatic. I love things like scavenger hunts as every one can get involved- older children love helping with the preparations and the younger ones adore running around searching for things. I always had crafts at my littlies’ parties, play dough, making party hats, decorating party bags, decorating cakes. And we’d always have a game of sleeping lions when things got a little too lively!

    • I know what you mean by traumatic. And keeping the attention once the layer is removed for younger children.

      I’m not sure I’d do crafts at home, but a friend did a really good craft table in her village hall for her daughter’s party, and it worked really well. Although some of the kids needed some good run around time that wasn’t really catered for.

  12. Laura @ Kneadwhine

    Ooh – great suggestions here! We took some colouring with us to D’s party and that really helped fill a little bit of quiet time.

    I love the idea of a scavenger hunt – definitely a good time of year for it too!

    • Sometimes they do want some down time. Often I forget that.
      Scavenger hunts are definitely good for all ages – can can be done inside or out.

  13. My little guy loves dancing and the parachute games. They are all so cute and looks like everyone is really having a great time! All such great suggestions.

    • Oh, I love how little children dance. N won’t do it in public, but he loves a boogy at home.

  14. Great Ideas! Love the concepts to improve education

  15. Great ideas. Never thought of the scavenger hunt at a party, sounds fab. All Looks like lots of fun.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    • I guess the location lent itself towards a scavenger hunt, but you could work it indoors or out.

  16. Some great ideas here. For Austin’s third birthday, we had a ‘go fish’ corner. D hid behind a blanket draped across the corner of a room, and the children took it in turns to dangle a line attached to a rod over the blanket. D attached a small toy to each – a prize that they’d ‘hooked’! It went down well…

  17. Great ideas! We had a small party for the 5yo and had balloon chasing and ball games and then I set out a craft table which went down better than I expected! But, the dancing around with balloons was the biggest hit 🙂

    • I like the idea of balloon chasing. It’s along the same lines as putting out a few cardboard boxes for them to play in and with! We went to a craft party back in January. It went a lot better than I thought but by the last 30 minutes, most just wanted to run round and let off steam

  18. Kungphoo

    Looks like they had so much fun! At that age it is sometimes hard to judge how the party will turn out..

    • So true. You never know, but at least being outside made it irresistable for them.

  19. Looks like a lot of fun. The dancing and scavenger hunt would have been my favorite. Thanks for sharing

    • I’m a big fan of quizes and challenges so I’d have loved the scavenger hunt too

    • Scavenger or treasure hunts are great because there’s so much variation depending on the age of the children and the location

  20. My daughter would absolutely agree with you that it is not a party without pass the parcel! When I was young there was the main prize and occasional surprises between the layers, but I’ve discovered now the children expect there to be something on every layer and know the last layer will be in different paper.

    I love scavenger hunts. Another version I remember doing as a child was finding pieces of coloured wool the parents had hidden in the garden, some were really easy to find but others they’d hidden by colour matching such as green in the grass.

    • Coloured wool’s an interesting one. We can’t do anything at home hiding things a) because there’s nothing to hide things in the garden as it’s just grass and b) the dogs would swipe whatever’s put out.

      My pass the parcel was immense – all paper was different colours…good way to use up odds of Christmas paper.

        • I have rolls of the stuff. Mostly from Christmas – but more patterned rather than Christmassy specific pictures on. You could use brown or newspaper!

  21. Mummy blogs actually make me excited to have children, you always seem to post the most intriguing and well needed posts! I love this one!

    • Oh thanks. I feel the same about other blogs – so many ideas, so little time. But nowadays there’s so many exciting things to try out

    • I’d go for a dancing party now too (but proper partner dancing, none of that fun disco stuff where I feel really self conscious!). As a child I’d have been too shy as well, I think

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