Best Daycare Games for Kids

The Value of Daycare Games for Kids

When organising daycare games, it is essential that we keep in mind how important play is in contributing to a child’s overall development.The team at KidsKinder spend significant time and effort planning and organising play activities and games that will encourage all aspects of a child’s development because we appreciate how crucial participation in games can be.

Why daycare games are so crucial

a young girl and young boy playing with daycare toys on a low table

When a child enters daycare they are entering the wider world beyond the family unit. It is here that they will learn critical social norms. Games help to provide structure around social interaction and help to introduce concepts such as sharing, waiting your turn, teamwork, winning and losing.

The great thing about daycare games is that children really love playing with others of the same age as well as adults. Providing a structured, safe environment for preschoolers to follow rules and have fun playing in is a great way to encourage social development and overall well being. It is important to appreciate that games should be age appropriate. There are baby daycare games, right through to games suitable for four and five year olds.

What do the experts say?

There is a general consensus among experts that undertaking activities and extra programs is critical to a child’s development.There are different types of game play and all of them aid in different aspects of the child’s development.

  • Physical game play involving such activities as running, jumping, skipping and throwing will help to develop the child’s physical abilities as well as helping to keep them physically fit.
  • Make believe and dramatic play allows the child to experiment with different situations and role play specific identities such as their mother and father
  • Sorting game play involving toys like building blocks or pegs help the child to build simple numeracy and maths skills
  • Messy game play involving, paints, dirt, water and the like allows children to explore different textures, smells and colours in a supervised environment
  • Simple board games offer the child the chance to learn about taking turns, counting and fairness
  • Game play involving music, stories and rhyme affords the child the opportunity to improve their vocabulary and to exercise their imagination

Best Indoor Games For Kids

The best indoor child care games for kids will depend to some extent on the age of the child. 

Day care baby games usually involve activities that encourage the child to move by reaching, rolling, crawling and pulling themselves up. Various rattles and bright colours can be used to encourage these actions as well as simple actions games like peek a boo and pat a cake. Rhymes and songs are also very useful

Prior to four years of age, most preschoolers will prefer to participate in games that don’t require sharing or turn taking. There are plenty of games that fit the bill including:

  • Simon Says – a game that can be played one on one or in a group sense. The game teaches toddlers to follow instructions. The game is a simple command game that participants must follow as long as the command is preceded by “Simon says.” I.e “Simon says “Put your hands on your nose.” If children follow a command not preceded by the command “Simon says”, they are eliminated from the game
  • Hokey Pokey – a simple dance game that kids have a lot of fun with – Put your left foot in, put your left foot out, you do the hokey pokey and turn around – that’s what it’s all about!
  • Puzzle games are more individualised but can help build physical, cognitive and emotional skills

Once the child reaches the age of four, he/she will be more willing to play with others in a group setting. Indoor daycare games that they will be suited to include games such as: 

  • Simple board games like snakes and ladders as well as simple mathematics games like dominoes
  • Participation games like rock, paper,scissors and Chinese whispers can keep them entertained and engaged for hours 

When a child reaches the age of five, they are beginning to develop feelings of empathy and are becoming aware of their place in the world and how they fit in to it. It is at this time that they become more aware of the value of rules . As these senses develop they will become drawn to more complex games and play scenarios. Games like Pictionary, as well as card games involving memory and strategy, will help meet these needs.

It is important to recognise that every child will have unique play needs and will need the opportunity to explore different mediums of play. To this end, it is a good idea to make items available such as used clothing (to play dress up), blocks, play dough, picture books and simple reading books. 

Ultimately, the best indoor games for kids are those games that meet the needs of the individual and a daycare or childcare facility needs to be flexible and adept enough to meet those needs.

Best outdoor games for kids

a table of young daycare children playing various daycare games on a small blue table

Outdoor games offer children of all ages the opportunity to enjoy the open spaces, fresh air and exercise. The best outdoor games for kids will largely depend upon their age and as all children are different, not all outdoor games are going to suit everybody This necessitates that daycare centres make every effort to offer a variety of age suitable outdoor games.

Some suitable games for two to three year old toddlers include :

  • Ball games that use a large soft ball and involve such activities as catching, kicking, hitting and bouncing
  • Activities such as chasing bubbles, walking along chalk lines or jumping over safe obstacles like small puddles or cracks in the ground

Suitable games for four and five year olds can be a little more structured in a rules sense while maintaining an emphasis on fun and participation. Good games that are suitable for this age group include games like 

  • Hide and Seek which has some great learning and play elements – like counting, hiding and seeking. It is a game that does require close adult supervision as you want to know where all the children are and that they are safe
  • Mr Wolf – another counting game that involves one child being Mr Wolf with their back turned to the others, who ask what time it is. The child responds by saying a time – if they say 5 O’clock, the other children must take 5 steps forward, if they say 2 O’clock, the children must take two steps forward. When “Mr Wolf” announces that it is dinner time, they all race back to the starting point – if Mr Wolf catches anyone, they become Mr Wolf for the next round
  • Freeze tag – a game built around the principles of tag or chasey. Whoever is chosen as “it” can “freeze” other players by touching them. Players can be Unfrozen by other game participants – this is a great game for children to learn simple game strategies.

Best group games for toddlers

Games that engage and involve a group of toddlers without setting too many group rules are great group games. Classics like Simon says, pin the tail on the donkey and blindman’s bluff are fun for all and a great way to get everyone involved.


The key to organising daycare games is to recognise that each child and each group of children will be different. It is important therefore to have a wide range of potential activities and games available to ensure that the individual’s, as well as the group’s play and development needs, are met.