Non-Competitive Games for Kids

These non-competitive party games mean no one gets left out.

Girls playing with balloons
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There are no winners or losers with these non-competitive games for kids—only lots of active fun. Try them at your next family party or birthday celebration. These games and activities can be adapted for different ages, interests, skill levels, and party themes, and some can be played indoors or out.

Overcome Obstacles: Create an obstacle course in your home or yard using furniture, fabric tunnels, cardboard boxes, sidewalk chalk, etc., and have party guests navigate it—not as a race, but as a team activity.

Better yet, give kids the raw materials and have them design their own course.

Bounce in the House: Rent, borrow, or buy an inflatable jumping structure. Kids can never get enough of this non-competitive activity.

Ready, Set, Get Wet: Kids and water are always a fun, active combination. Put out a slip-and-slide, a sprinkler, an array of squirters, or a big tub of water and some buckets (then stand back!).

Traffic Lights: This is a simpler, less competitive version of the classic "Red Light, Green Light." Have the party guests run freely, then call out "red," "yellow," or "green." Players must stop on red, sit on yellow, and go on green, but no one is called out if they forget. Mix things up by having them perform a different movement (dance, hop, crawl, etc.) for each round.

Find the Pennies: Hide shiny pennies or nickels around your home or yard and challenge kids to find them, alone or in teams.

Have them place found coins in a special jar and explain that the birthday child will donate the cash to a favorite charity. Better yet, choose a charity that aligns with the party's theme: an animal shelter for a puppy party, or a food pantry for a cooking party.

Make a Mess: Throw a messy party! Let kids toss flour, dig in the dirt, squirt silly string and shaving cream.

It's cooperative all right: The kids cooperate to make a huge mess!

Animal Antics: Distribute animal stickers or small stuffed animals to each party guest, then challenge them to imitate their designated critter with motions and sounds. Line them up for an animal parade.

Group Juggle: To play this cooperative party game, start with guests standing in a tight circle. Give the birthday child a soft, mid-sized ball (one that all the guests can easily throw and catch). The first child tosses the ball across the circle to another player, then that player tosses it back to the child next to the birthday kid, and so on around the circle. (You may need to call out names to help the kids know who's up next.) Practice this pattern several times until everyone's comfortable. Then add another ball, reminding the kids to keep throwing it in the same pattern (to and from the same person). Add up to four balls total to create the very cool illusion that your circle is a giant juggling machine!

Criss-Cross: Designate a goal such as a table, chair, box, or yardstick.

Gather all the kids across the room or yard from the goal and have them crawl (or march, etc., as with Traffic Lights) to it, then return to the starting point. At the starting point, give them a penny or piece of wrapped candy to hold, then have them go again—back and forth, as long as they want to keep at it and try to hang on to their prizes too.

Art-y Party: Have guests collaborate on a large banner or mural made with sidewalk chalk or paint (handprints and footprints are especially fun).

Help Your Neighbor: In this version of tag, there is no "it." Each player gets a beanbag, and must walk around the room or yard balancing the bag on her head. If it falls off, she freezes—until a friend comes along to replace the dropped beanbag.

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