Jack turns 3 in July and so the time has come to start planning his party and the inevitable party games! I think a bit more thought needs to go into a birthday party for this age group.  They want to be entertained but still their attention span is not so well developed to take on too many of the traditional games…  I think the key is to be organised and to have lots of activities planned for some unstructured play where they can roam freely with some easy structured party games to win prizes and draw them all together.  For loads of ideas around parties – food, themes and supplies I think Party Pieces is great and I’ll be having a look for Jack’s party.   Here are our hints and tips for great party games for toddlers that everyone will enjoy:   Setting the theme By pre-school age many children love to dress up and will usually have a certain character they love.  Setting a theme gives your little ones a chance to dress up and you to organise invites, cups, plates, party bags and party games all around a set theme.  On this occasion for our little boy we have chosen a ‘pirate’ party, but I know princess, Gruffalo and fireman parties are also very popular choices!   Classic games for toddles We all remember the classic party games from when we were children and it amazes me how popular they still are today.  I tried a few of these for Jack’s second birthday but with little success but I think by 3 and upwards if you keep them brief they work well.  Make sure you plan them in-between periods of unstructured play.   1)   Pass the Parcel – A great party game favourite is to wrap layers of treats up into a large parcel and pass the parcel around the group until the music stops.  One thing I have found from experience though is that at this age they are very reluctant to pass the parcel on and will therefore usually require an adult to sit with the children to keep the game moving! 2)   Musical Bumps – Toddlers love to dance and sing to music.  This classic party game involves playing music and letting the children dance around.  When the music stops they have to sit on the floor.  The last person to do this is out.  The winner is the one left at the end.  Other variations on this are musical statues and musical chairs (if you have enough room!) 3)   Pin the tail on the donkey – You could make this a pre-birthday party activity to create the donkey with your little one and then make enough tails for everyone to pin on (perhaps in different colours so you can tell the winner).  I love the fact that you can vary the donkey to fit with your theme – so for us it will be pin the patch on the pirate! 4)   Treasure Hunt – If the weather is good this is a great one to play outdoors and can be varied to suit the age of children and theme.  You could do a clue for each station showing a picture of something they have to find to get the next clue, or they could go and collect sweets/ treasure.  I think for our 3 year olds a bag each to go and collect 5 gold chocolate coins should work! 5)   Simon Says – This will require an adult to be ‘Simon’ at the front of the room and to ask the children to do actions.  You could pretend who is the quickest (perhaps choosing some of the quietest children) to hand out a prize to until everyone has had a prize. 6)   Simon says variation – another version of this could be to say to the group of toddlers who is wearing dinosaur socks and ask the children to point to the child who has them etc until everyone has been chosen and received a treat.   Unstructured Play for Toddlers I think it is really important to have a lot of unstructured play for this age group, away from the structured party games.  They really love nothing more than to roam or run free with their friends!  By setting up some activity stations throughout the room children can come and go as they please.  If you have a mixture of age groups this will be useful as you can tailor certain activities to some that might have missed out on other games.   1)   Play doh table – kids of all ages love play doh and it is a great way to keep them entertained – just make sure you watch the very little ones as they often prefer to eat play doh from my experience! 2)   Arts and Crafts – using glue, paper, glitter, pencils and whatever else you can find they will love to create their own masterpiece and proud to show mummy and daddy at the end of the party! 3)   Lego table – if your child prefers to build things this might be an alternative to an arts and crafts table – and might be a bit less messy! 4)   Sandpit/ Water play – if you are lucky to have a birthday over the ‘summer’ months and it is actually sunny having a sandpit and water set up in the garden will be a great favourite – toddlers will love this too. 5)   Free play with toys/ puzzles/ games – leave an area with all your little ones toys out so that children can have a play in a separate area.  It might be an idea to ask some of your guests to bring a couple of toys with them to ensure there is enough for everyone.   Towards the end of the party it might be a nice idea to gather all the children together in a circle to have story time.  Perhaps you will decide to give out some birthday cake at this point to keep them all quiet, but hopefully they will all be suitably tired from all the activities.  Whilst one adult is reading the story it gives the opportunity for the others to have a clear up of all the party games and get the packed party bags ready to hand out at the end.  You may decide to end the story with a few songs and then the birthday song for the special little girl or boy of the day!   The great thing about party games for toddlers is that they don’t have to be complicated – at this age children still enjoy many of the simple things in life! I’ll be trying all of these ideas in July and will let you know how I get on!