Super Simple Sit Down Games (For Ages 3-7)


In all the hubbub and action of modern learning, it’s great sometimes just to be able to sit down and learn together in one simple group.

I have taught children between the ages of 3 to 5 over the last twelve years, and in that time I have created the following list of sit-down games that are popular and effective every single time. This is my survival kit of good quality ideas, with minimal preparation time.

These games teach:

-A range of different skills

-Are good team-builders

-Are great for listening skills

-Are fantastic for a range of ages, and particularly children between the ages of 3 and 7

-Group games have been shown to develop mindfulness and positive mental health (Source)

So let’s dive into the very best 11 super simple sit-down games.

Circle time game for preschoolers outside

1. Fist Fun

Set Up:  Teacher needs a large dice to roll with dots or numbers based on teacher preference.

Skill Reinforcement:  Numbers 1-6

Steps to Play:

  1.  Teacher or selected student rolls the dice while students keep a fist behind their back.
  2.  Teacher or selected student says, “Now!”
  3.  Students show the correct number of fingers that match what was rolled on the dice.

2. Build It or Count It

Set UpLarge dice with dots or numbers based on teacher preference, items to build a tower i.e. Legos or Unifix cubes or counting items i.e. teddy bear counters.

Skill Reinforcement:  Early numeracy and one-to-one correspondence

Steps to Play:

  1.  Teacher rolls the dice.
  2.  Give students up to 1 minute to build or count the number on the dice.
  3.  Check individual students or teams.  A shoulder partner could also check work.
  4.  Roll again as desired or time allows.

Optional Variation:  Play in teams and award points.

3. Card Shark

Set Up:  Sets of playing cards with numbers 2-10 and card race ideas based on student skill level.

Race Ideas:  Put out cards in order 2-10, put out the cards less than 7, put out the cards more than 3 or put out the even cards.

Skill Reinforcement:  Early numeracy, sequencing

Steps to Play:

  1.  Students race to put out card(s) quickly based on what teacher calls out.
  2.  Check cards.
  3.  Pick up cards and start again.

4. Which One?

Set Up:  Alphabet letter cards, picture cards or word list.  (These should be for 2 to 3 letters you have focused on in class.)

Skill Reinforcement:  Initial sounds

Steps to Play:

  1.  Give letter cards to individual students or teams.
  2.  Show picture card or say word for the class.
  3.  Students or teams decide which letter the picture or word starts with.
  4.  When teacher asks, “Which one?” the students hold up their selected card.

5. This I Know

Set UpTeacher generated class discussion topics i.e. animals or transportation

Steps to Play:

  1. Class sits in a circle.
  2. Teacher asks, “What do you know about _________?”
  3. Students go around the circle and state their knowledge.  After they state their fact, they say, “This I know.  Now your turn to go!”

6. Don’t Forget It

Set UpTeacher generated class discussion topics and a timer.

Steps to Play:

  1. Teacher starts with a challenge such as, “Name some things that are yellow.”
  2. The first student says, “The sun is yellow and don’t you forget it.”
  3. When the next student shares, they state what the previous student said plus what they know and conclude with the words, “And don’t you forget it.”
  4.  When the timer goes off, the teacher does the wrap up stating what all the students said during the game.

7. Bucket Blast/Bounce

Set Up:  Teacher needs different colors of buckets.  Teacher needs to determine what students will use to throw and get enough for each student.  Examples could include:  Bean bags, small ball or crumpled pieces of paper.  Teacher also needs a list of real-world items that are different colors or black and white picture cards on which to test student color knowledge.

Skill Reinforcement:  Color Identification

Steps to Play:

  1.  Teacher names an item or shows a picture card.  Example:  Sky
  2.  Students decide what color they think it is.
  3. Teacher says, “Blast off!”  or, “Ready!  Set!  Bounce” Students throw or bounce items in the correct color of bucket.
  4. Retrieve items and get ready to go again.

Optional Variations:  Teacher can have students justify their thinking for their bucket choice.  Points can be awarded.  Play the game in teams and have a small group discussion before bucket choice is made.

8. Think and Throw

Set Up:  Soft rubber or Koosh ball, a timer and teacher generated topic ideas.

Topic Examples:  Words that start with A, things that are red, things we have learned about community helpers.

Steps to Play:

  1. Teacher shares topic and gives students some quiet independent think time (30 seconds).
  2. Teacher sets the timer and tells class how long they have to list ideas out loud that are related to the topic.  (1-2 minutes should be optimal time.)
  3. Teacher begins by throwing the ball to a student with his/her hand up and they share their idea.
  4. Play continues with students throwing the ball to peers with their hands up for more ideas to be shared until time is up.

9. What’s Next?

Set Up:  Soft rubber or Koosh ball per small group

Skills Reinforcement:  Number and alphabetical order, listening

Steps to Play

  1.  Teacher calls out a number or letter.
  2.  Groups start with that number or letter and throw the ball in an established pattern.
  3.  As students receive the ball they say the next number or letter in the sequence.
  4.  Play stops if ball is dropped or a letter/number is said out of sequence.

Optional Variation:  Give students a set of number or letter cards.  Groups have a teacher leader flip over a card and students in the group take turns saying the next letter or number in sequence.  Other group members give a thumbs up to indicate their agreement or disagreement.  Set a timer and the teacher leader in the group is switched and the process is repeated.

10. Show Me

Set Up:  Small white boards, dry erase markers, and eraser

Skill Reinforcement:  Shapes

Steps to Play:

  1.  Teacher states something they want students to make like a triangle.
  2.  Give time to draw it.
  3.  Teacher says, “Show me!” and students raise boards.

Optional Variation:  Use Play-Doh or a pipe cleaner to have students create shapes.

11. Flip It

Set Up:  Paper plates, popsicle sticks, glue and list of teacher generated statements

Steps to Play:

  1. Teacher Choice:  The paper plate paddle could be premade by the teacher or students could make it.
  2. Teacher Choice:  Consider what you want on each side.  Ideas could include:  Yes/No, Agree/Disagree, True/False, two different letters of the alphabet, two different colors or two different numbers.
  3. Statements for True/False Scenario:
  4. Grass is blue. (Students should flip their paddle to false.)
  5. Bananas are yellow.  (Students should flip their paddle to true.)
  6. Teacher provides statement.
  7. Give up to 30 seconds of think time.
  8. Teacher says, “Flip it!”
  9. Students show their answer.

Martin Williams

Hi, I'm Martin Williams, creator of the Early Impact Learning blog. I'm a preschool and early years teacher of ten years experience, and I also run practical training courses for nurseries and schools.

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