Of course ‘Musical Chairs’ is one of the staple games of children’s parties, and is also used in preschools and schools around the world at times of celebration.
But did you know there are at least 11 games that are either variations of the classic game, or are games that are really similar in structure and approach to Musical Chairs?
The ultimate 11 games like musical chairs include:
- Musical Chairs Lottery
- Musical Chairs Move Frenzy
- Musical Chairs Twister
- Jurassic Chase
- Shark Attack
- Treasure Hunt Sit – Small collection of object scattered around – find one and sit on it
- Three Chairs
- Rabbit Game
- Rabbit Game Extreme
To get onto this list, games have had to fit into the following criteria:
- Some are clearly linked to Musical Chairs, and just enhance its rules
- Some involve getting back to a base at some point in the game
These games are fantastic for children of a range of ages, and foster enjoyment, team-work, and cooperation. (Source)
So, here are the best 11 games like musical chairs…
1. Musical Chairs Lottery
This is a fantastic way of taking the element of competition out of the game. There is still a winner, but it is completely down to chance, and this can make it more fun for everyone.
For this game, have your normal array of chairs that you would have for musical chairs. You want two rows of chairs back-to-back, and you need the same number of chairs as you have players.
You number the chairs in some way. Sticky notes with numbers written on would be a simple way of achieving this. Say you have twelve children, just label the chairs ‘one’ to ‘twelve.’
The other resource you require is a set of number cards with the same numbers on that are on the chairs.
Then play Musical Chairs as you would normally. When the music stops, the players rush to sit down.
Someone is designated as the player that will select one of the number cards at random (without looking at them). They pick a number. Whichever number is selected – that chair is the champion!
Then just repeat the game again.
This is a great game for any children that love space.
Have a wide playing space, and mark out some squares with chalk on the ground, or using cones. There need to be at least as many square in a mish-mash array as you have players. These are the ‘underground bunkers’.
The players are them going to move around the space. They could move in any of these ways:
-Like spacemen in zero gravity
-Hopping, jumping, skipping etc
At any given moment, the adult is going to shout ‘Asteroid!’
When you hear that, you have three seconds to get to a ‘bunker’. If you don’t get back in time you are ‘out’.
The harder version is where after every go the adult closes several ‘bunkers’. Put a cross in them with chalk to signify that they are closed, or simply remove the cones.
Next time there is an asteroid, some children will be ‘out.’
3. Musical Chairs Move Frenzy
This is a simple variation of musical chairs that they really enjoy.
Quite simply instead of dancing around the chairs when the music is on, the children are going to be moving in different ways.
The players are going to take turns to select a way of moving, one at a time.
Good ways of moving include:
-Animals like monkeys, elephants or snakes
-Crawling or slithering
Some of these moves, for example slithering, make it quite a bit harder to get to a chair quickly when the music stops.
4. Jurassic Sneak
This game has the element of getting back to a base safely.
Have an inner circle of cones or spots about two yards wide, and surround it with a wide outer circle about thirty yards wide.
One player is going to stand in the inner circle. They are the T-Rex.
The other players all stand around the outer circle.
The idea of the game is that the players will now start to sneak towards the inner circle. However, if the T-Rex spots you, you have to go back to the outer circle! T-Rexes, as we know, can only see you if you move.
The idea is to be sneaking up on the T-Rex when their back is turned to you. Then, if they spin around, freeze!
Who can get back to base!
5. Musical Chairs Twister
Everyone loves Musical Chairs, just as everyone loves Twister, so why not combine the two?
The idea of this game is that one person is designated to be ‘it’. They are going to select how everyone sits on the chair.
Have enough chairs for everyone, in the standard ‘Musical Chairs’ formation.
This time, when the music stops everyone sits down on a chair, but the person who is ‘it’ will tell them what should be in contact with the floor. For example, they might shout, ‘Right foot.’ Easy! Everyone puts their right foot on the ground, and raises their left foot.
You could have a combination, for example, ‘Right foot, left hand.’ Try to put these on the ground.
You can be really creative with the choices of body parts. It could be ‘right elbow, left leg.’
Just see what they can come up with!
6. Shark Attack
Have a wide playing space, and some circles or square marked out with cones or something similar. These spaces are the ‘undersea caves.’ Have the same number of caves as you have players.
The children are going to be fish, swimming around in the sea.
One player is going to be the ‘shark.’
The children swim around, moving in different ways. At point, the adult shouts, ‘Shark!’
That is the cue for the shark to chase the others and try to tag them! They all have to get back to a ‘cave’ where they can’t be tagged.
If you are tagged, you become a shark, and attempt to tag the other fish on the next round.
7. Treasure Hunt Sit
To start with the players are going to be standing outdoors, and all close their eyes.
The adult then goes around a wide space, scattering some small objects onto the ground. You could many different small objects for this game – shells, pebbles, feathers, or anything else like that. You need as many objects as you have players.
Then the players open their eyes, and go off to find an object. As soon as you find one, sit down next to it.
It is all about observation and searching.
8. Three Chairs
This game is all about problem solving, and working with other groups to find a win-win situation. This is realistically for children from about the age of 9 upwards.
You need a large room, and lots of chairs in it.
Split the players into three teams. Then give each team one of the following three specific challenges:
- Place all the chairs in the room in a circle
- Turn all the chairs in the room on their side
- Move all the chairs to one corner of the room
Chaos often then results, as the players attempt to meet their specific target.
Often at some point they may start to realize that they can all work together to meet all three goals at the same time.
9. Rabbit Game
This is one of the all-time great movement games.
Have a wide playing area, and some spots on the floor. These are the rabbit ‘holes’. Have at least as many spots as you have players.
The children are now all rabbits. They are going to move about the ‘field’ (playing area) in different ways. They could jump, hop, skip, slither etc!
Have an instrument, for example a drum. Hit you hit the drum, that is a signal that the fox is here. They need to get onto a rabbit hole sharpish!
If you stand on a ‘hole’ then you are safe.
Then simply go again. The rabbits have about three seconds to get to a rabbit ‘hole’ or they are out. This game is one of my favorite 17 active listening games (check out the full list here).
10. Rabbit Game Extreme
The more competitive version of the Rabbit Game, is when the fox comes back with some imaginary soil in a wheelbarrow, and fills in some of the rabbit holes.
In reality, the adult goes around the space, and picks up a few rabbit holes while the children are moving. Then, when the drum sounds this time, there won’t be enough holes for everyone. Some children will be ‘out’.
Keep whittling them down until you have a champion.
This is a classic variation of Hide and Seek, that involves running back to a base.
Before you start, have one area that is the ‘blocko’. This is usually a fence or part of a wall, or some other fixed object (like a bin, a drainpipe, or whatever else you have in the area).
One person closes their eyes, and starts counting at this spot. Everyone else goes off to hide.
The idea of ‘blocko’ is to get back to the original area without being tagged.
The person who is ‘it’ will try to find everyone, and tag them. If you are tagged you are ‘out’.
It often becomes a chase back to the ‘blocko’ place. If you get back there you are safe.
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