Do you need some ideas for fun quiet games to play with preschoolers? These can be used to settle kids down in class, as a calming at-home activity, or even to occupy children on road trips.
Some of these games can be played in complete silence, while others are calmer games that may have a little chatter but won’t get too rowdy. Most can be played in small or large groups, but the last four games are more suitable for pairs or smaller groups.
While many of these games are played by eliminating players until one player is left and wins the round, if you are playing with younger children you may want to amend the rules and not eliminate players.
1. Simon Says
Playing Simon Says is a great way to refocus a group of children. They must pay attention and listen as they act out the commands.
- Someone is chosen to be Simon and must call out a series of commands.
- If playing with younger children an adult can be Simon.
- Children must only follow commands that begin with “Simon says”. In other words, they must clap their hands for the command “Simon says clap your hands,” but they must remain still for the command “Clap your hands.”
- They are “out” and should sit down if they follow an action that wasn’t preceded with “Simon says”.
- The winner is the last person standing.
Here are some examples of Simon Says commands:
- Simon says rub your tummy
- Simon says crawl like a baby
- Simon says give a thumbs-up
- Simon says move like an octopus
- Simon says tickle yourself under your arms
- Simon says hop on one foot
- Simon says smile at someone near you
2. Silent Simon Says
To reduce the noise level entirely, play a game of Simon Says without speaking.
- The person who is “on” stands at the front of the room and performs one action at a time, in silence.
- The rest of the children follow the actions.
- If you laugh, speak or follow the action incorrectly, you are out and must sit down until the round is over.
3. Do This Do That
Do This, Do That is a similar game to Simon Says.
- Someone is chosen to be “on” or the adult/teacher can be “on” if playing with young kids.
- Show a series of simple actions that the group must copy, beginning each action by calling out either “do this” or “do that”.
- If the action is accompanied by the instruction “do this,” the children must follow it. If the action is accompanied by the instruction “do that,” then the children must not follow it and must remain in the previous position.
- If someone copies an action when they shouldn’t, they are out and must sit down for the rest of the round.
- Examples of actions: tapping fingers, hands on heads, folding arms, turning around, stamping feet, etc.
4. The Quiet Game
The Quiet Game is the ultimate quiet time game for kids and requires simply…being quiet! It’s a fun activity for kids because it challenges them to stay silent as long as possible.
- Kids can sit in a circle so they can watch each other.
- The first person to talk or laugh loses the round.
- Variation: one person is assigned to start the round. That person walks around the group, identifying someone they think is being quiet and taps them on the head. That person then taps the next quiet person on the head and so it goes.
5. The Telephone Game
The Telephone Game – also called Broken Telephone – is a whispering game that is sure to settle a rowdy group and is a fun game for kids of all ages.
- Children sit in a circle.
- The first person (child or adult) thinks of a short phrase and whispers it into the ear of the next person, who then whispers it to the next person, and so on.
- The message gets passed around the group and the last person must call it out.
- The first person then confirms if the message is correct or if it has gotten jumbled or changed along the way.
- Some examples of Telephone Game phrases: Cheeky monkeys; Yellow ducks; Fish and chips; Blue bubbles in the bath; The shark has shiny shoes; My mom is a dinosaur.
6. I Spy With My Little Eye
Play a game of I Spy With My Little Eye as a quiet time activity that will encourage children to think.
- One person – usually the adult – is the spy and starts the first round.
- The spy spots something in the room or area that is visible to the children.
- The spy then says “I spy with my little eye” and gives a descriptive clue so the children can guess what the object is.
- Children can attempt to guess the object. The first person to guess it correctly is the spy in the next round.
- To keep the game calmer, ask kids to raise their hands if they’d like a turn to guess the object.
- Some I Spy examples: I spy something round, large and blue; I spy something shaped like a rectangle; I spy something that makes a ringing noise.
7. Silent Follow the Leader
Play a game of Follow the Leader, but in complete silence!
- Choose one child to be the leader (or the adult can be the leader for the first round).
- The rest of the children line up behind the leader.
- They must copy all the leader’s actions and movements without making a sound (hop when the leader hops, do jumping jacks, turn around and take 2 steps forward, etc.)
- Continue playing until you choose a new leader, or play by eliminating those who talk or laugh until one child is left and becomes the new leader.
- Examples of actions: skipping; balancing on one leg; flying like a plane; walking like a penguin; and walking backwards.
8. Who’s Got the Button?
The Button Game is a fun game of trying to discover who in the group is holding the button. Younger children may find it challenging to be subtle in this game.
- Children sit in a circle.
- A child is chosen to be “it”. This should be the adult for the first round.
- Everyone sits with their hands cupped with palms facing each other, ready to receive the button.
- The person who is “it” goes around the circle and pretends to drop the button into each child’s hands, while they pretend to receive the button.
- The person who is “it” must drop the button in one child’s hands but continue going around the circle, pretending to drop it into each child’s hands.
- The person then sits and asks each child “Button, button, who’s got the button?” giving each a turn to guess who has the button by saying, for example, “Joe’s got the button.”
- The first child to guess the person holding the button is the next leader.
9. Silent Freeze Dance
- Children must dance silently to no music.
- When the adult claps once, the children must all freeze on the spot.
- When the adult claps twice, the children can resume pretending to dance to music, silently.
- Anyone who moves or talks is out and has to sit for the rest of the round. The winner is the last person still standing.
10. Categories Game
- Kids sit in a circle.
- Pick a category and go around the circle as each child adds one word that fits into the category.
- A word cannot be used twice.
- Some simple categories for preschoolers: toys, animals, jobs people do, favourite places to go, clothes, vegetables, etc.
11. Wink Murder Game
This group game is one of the most fun quiet games but is usually more suitable for older children, although you can try a round with younger children by having the adult be the murderer in the first round.
- Children sit in a circle with their eyes closed.
- The adult goes around and taps one child on the head, appointing them as the murderer.
- Everyone opens their eyes and the adult chooses a detective, who will try to catch the murderer before they kill the entire group.
- Tell the children that if someone winks at them, they must lie down in their spot and pretend to be dead, and that only the murderer may wink at people.
- The murderer then sets about “murdering” people while being as subtle as possible until the detective catches them winking at people.
- Play a new round and choose a new murderer and detective.
This classic game can be played in pairs or small groups. While there are standard rules of Dominoes, when playing with preschoolers I would amend the rules slightly and explain a simplified version that kids can play on their own to wind down.
- Lay all the tiles face up on the table.
- The first player lays a number tile down as the starting tile.
- Players take turns adding one domino at a time and making a chain, making sure that the value of the numbered dots on one half of the tile matches the value on the side of the tile they are attaching it to. They can add a tile to either side of the chain of tiles, as long as they find a matching value.
- Continue until all the tiles are added to the chain.
13. Pick Up Sticks
This fun game is good for concentration and building fine motor skills too. It can be played with 2 children or a small group. It is also more suitable for older children but young kids can start to practise lifting them in an informal game.
- Hold the set of pick-up sticks upright on a table. Let them go and let them fall naturally into a pile.
- Taking turns, players must try and lift a stick without moving any of the other sticks.
- If a stick moves, they have to leave their stick on the pile, if they manage to lift it successfully, they can keep it.
- The player with the most sticks at the end wins.
14. Tic Tac Toe
Another quiet game to play with kids is Tic Tac Toe, also called Noughts and Crosses. It may be challenging for preschoolers but they can start to learn the concept of taking turns and planning moves.
- Players can play in pairs on a piece of paper or chalkboard.
- Players assign themselves either the symbol 0 or X and then draw a simple grid.
- Taking turns, they each place their 0 or X on the grid, attempting to make a row of three of their own symbols, without being blocked by the other person’s symbol.
15. Matching Cards Memory Game
Let kids play a matching memory game with cards and find the pairs.
- Lay all the cards face down on the table.
- Players take turns to turn over two cards at a time.
- If they match, the player keeps them, but if they don’t match they get turned face down again in the same spot.
- The player with the most matching pairs wins the round.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed these 15 quiet-time games for preschoolers. Here are some cognitive games to try too.
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