This is the longest Games page in this section. Plenty of Chair and Circle Games for you to try out!
1,2,3,4 (Finger grabbing Game)
This is a sitting down circle game. On the count of 1, everyone slaps their right knee. On the count of 2, everyone slaps their left knee. On the count of 3, everyone puts their Right Index Finger in the air. On the count of 4, put your left hand hovering above the person to your left’s finger. On the word “Go”, try and grab the person on your left’s finger, while trying to stop the person on your right grabbing your finger!! This game may sound complicated, but it is not!
Alternative: On 1= raise finger, 2= hover other hand flat above neighbour’s finger, 3= try and grab.
Before the game begins, a message is put inside a balloon and the balloon is blown up. The balloon is passed around the circle until the leader says stop or the music stops. The Child with the balloon then has to burst the balloon and do the required action/forfeit e.g. be a dog or do a dance.
Alternative: Put words from memory verse inside a number of balloons.
The Children form a circle (stream) with one beaver left outside. The circle beavers then pass a rolled newspaper (branch) around and the odd beaver has to try and catch it. When the Child catches the branch to build his dam, another child takes his place.
Organise chairs in sets of 3 around the room. Children get in sets of 3 and sit on a set of chairs. Organise it so that one group is only a pair of kids + an empty chair. This pair has to leave their chairs and grab a person from another triplet take them back to their set of chairs. Then the group who now have 2 people have to grab someone else from another group. When the music stops, the last set of 3 to run are out. The game continues until there is only one group left.
Children are divided into teams, and they lay their chairs out in a line in front of them. There should be one extra chair for each group. They stand on the chairs, leaving the last one empty, and on the word “GO”, the team have to race to the other side of the hall, by passing the empty chair to the front of the line of chairs, and then stepping onto it (then they have a free chair that they can pass to the front.
Clock in the Tower
Everyone stands in a circle and is numbered one to four. One person stands in the centre. The players say the rhyme “The clock in the tower strikes the hour”, and the person in the centre claps his/her hands 1,2,3 or 4 times. If e.g. 3 is clapped, then all the 3’s run around the circle and the first into the centre takes the place of the clock.
Alternative ; with a big group of kids increase numbers to 6 or 8 etc.
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Do You Love Your Neighbour?
This is a sitting down circle game. One person does not have a chair, and stands in the middle. They choose someone, and ask them “Do you love your neighbour”? If that person says “No”, then the people at either side, have to swap chairs, before the person in the middle sits down in one of their chairs. If the answer is “Yes”, then everyone has to swap chairs.
Alternative: Leader in middle asks question. If answer is “No” neighbours must run in opposite directions around circle and back to place. Last one is out – better without chairs.
Duck, Duck, Goose
This is a sitting down circle game. One child is selected to go round the outside of the circle, patting everyone on their heads and saying “duck”, when they come to a person who they want to chase them, they shout “goose”. Then they have to run round the circle, while being chased, and try to steal the space which has just become available. If the person is caught, then they have to run again.
Alternative: “Koala, Koala, Kangaroo” and children hop/jump around circle.
Find the Leader
The children sit in a circle except one who is a detective. The detective leaves the room while another child is chosen as a leader. The detective then has 3 tries to find the leader. The leader starts making a rhythm/action which all the group copy. The leader then changes his actions e.g. clapping, waving, hitting chest. The other children have to copy the leader without making it too obvious.
Find the Ring
Tie a ring onto a long piece of string. The children sit in a circle holding the string except one who is in the centre. Those in the circle try to move the ring around without the child on the outside seeing it. If he finds the ring, he swaps places with the child on the outside holding it. Limit the number of guesses so that every child can have a try.
Children stand in a circle holding hands, two people are chosen to go round the outside holding hands (and the circle is closed again), they have to tap a pair of hands, and when this happens, they have to run round the circle and get into the space which is available, the people they have just tapped, have to run round the circle in the opposite direction and get back to their own space.
Furry Object Game
This is a sit down circle game. An object (e.g. an orange) is passed from the 1st person to the 2nd. The first person says, “this is a furry orange”, the 2nd person says “a what”, the first person then says “a furry orange”. The object is then passed onto the third person who repeats “this is a furry orange”, and when the 3rd person says “a what” the 2nd person asks the first person “a what”, and then the message gets passed back to the 2nd and 3rd persons. Every time an object is passed and someone says “a what”, the message goes all the way back to the first person, and is then passed all the way back to the person who asks. Once everyone has got used to one object going all the way round the circle, send 2 objects round the circle, starting with the same person, but going in different directions.
Hands on Knees
This is a sitting down circle game – that is complicated to explain but is easy to play. Each person puts their left hand on their left-neighbour’s right knee; and then puts their right hand on their right-neighbours left knee. The game starts when a chosen person taps someone’s knee (with whichever hand is on that knee). The tapping continues around the circle in the order the hands are in; not the order of people (which is of course different since people have crossed over arms with both neighbours). A double tap means change direction. If a person forgets, hesitates or taps out of sequence then they put one hand behind their back. The game finishes when there is only one or two people left.
Alternative: Kneel on floor and place hands in front of you in same pattern.
Key’s to the Castle
One person sits blindfolded in the middle of a circle of people who are sitting down. A set of keys is placed behind him/her. Then one person is chosen from the circle, and they have to walk round the circle as quietly as possible and then sneak into the middle and grabs the keys which are just behind him/her and sits back down (in the same spot). The person in the middle then takes off the blindfold and points at who they think has the keys. They can have 3 guesses, and if they guess correctly, that person ends up in the middle.
Alternative: “Bear and the Honey Pot” – when “Bear” hears the keys being stolen he chases the thief around outside of circle.
Chairs are stacked in a row, back-to-back. There is one less chair than there are people. When the music starts, the children have to walk around the chairs, and when the music stops, the children have to sit down on a chair. One child will be out each round, as you remove a chair before each round starts.
Pass the Parcel
This game is played to music, a parcel is passed round kids who are sitting in a circle. When the music stops, the child who has the parcel unwraps a layer, and then the game continues. The winner is the child who unwraps the last layer of the present. To add some spice to the game, why not have forfeits for each layer unwrapped!
Pass the Squeeze
This is a sitting down circle game. Everyone hold hands with the people beside them, and a squeeze (of the hand) is passed around the circle. A leader can time the squeeze, to see how long it takes to go around the circle 10 times. And then you can try and beat the time.
Children stand in a circle with a space between themselves. One child is a rabbit with a hankie/scarf for a tail, another child is a dog. The rabbit has to run out the circle 5 times for food objects placed far outside circle (n.b. need at least 6 objects) and get back in without the dog catching his tail. The dog is not allowed in the circle as this is the rabbits burrow.
This is a sitting down circle game. One person stands in the middle. There is a chair that is empty in the circle, so everyone has to keep moving round the chair, by shuffling from one chair to the next in a clockwise direction, without the person in the middle being able to sit down. The leader can shout change at any given time, and so the people in the circle have to shuffle in the opposite direction. When the person in the middle finally gets his/her seat, the person who they have stolen the seat from has to go in the middle.
Smile if you Love me
This is a sitting down circle game. One person is in the middle, and does not have a chair. In order to get a chair, he/she has to pick on someone and say to them “Smile if you Love Me”, the person on the chair has to reply “I really, really love you but I just can’t smile”. They have to say this without smiling, otherwise they have to give up their chair. The person can use any means possible to make the person smile e.g. sitting on their knee, or pulling funny faces.
The children sit in a circle and have to mime an action in turn using the stick. E.g. sport – pool, hockey, weapon – gun, bow and arrow – tools – hammer, saw etc.
Alternative: Do this with Youth using bizarre objects to stimulate imagination and laughs.
Children start with 10 points each. They stand in a circle and on being told, they will either walk, run, hop etc around the circle. When the leader claps her hands the children must sit down. The last child to sit down loses a point.
Wet Flannel Game
This is a sitting down circle game. Every person names themselves after a different fruit. One person is in the middle with a wet flannel (the wetter, the better)!! One person in the circle, stands up and says “I am a _____ (name of their fruit), and I am in love with a ______ (name of someone else’s fruit)” The person who has just been named, has to stand up and repeat the phrase before the person in the middle wipes their face with a wet flannel. If a person gets caught with a wet flannel, then they have to take their turn in the middle.
One person is sent out of the room. One person is chosen in the room to be the murderer. When the person comes back in, he has to try and guess who the murderer is. If the murderer winks at you, you have to pretend to die (the more dramatically the better). This means that you have to subtly look at the murderer occasionally.
Alternatively: decide murderer by dealing out playing cards where the ace is the murderer (No. of cards = No. of kids).
Zoom, Zap, Screech
This is a sitting down circle game. Someone starts by sending a Zoom to the player sitting beside them. They do this by moving their hands towards the next person and saying “Zoom”. The Zoom can go all the way round the circle. If someone wants to stop the Zoom going in that direction and send it the other way, then they cross their arms over their body and say “Zap”. The other command for this game is if you want to send a Zoom to a certain person, then you point at them with both hands, and say Screech to ____ (person’s name). People can be put out of this game for slow responses.
Alternatively: Say “Zip” and swing arms in a circle (from elbow) and point in direction for it to travel. Say “Boing” and jump to change direction.
This is a standing up, holding hands in a circle game. A chair is placed in the middle, and then when the leader shouts “Go”, everyone has to try and stay away from the chair. Everyone will be pulling away from the chair, and eventually someone will either come into contact with the chair, or let go of someone’s hand. If they do this, they are out. The circle will therefore keep getting smaller, making it more difficult to stay in the game, as you are nearer the chair.
Chalk, blackboard and duster
The group stands in a circle with everyone facing the outside. The leader of the game gives everyone a title: chalk, blackboard or duster. The leader then stands in the centre of the circle and shouts one of the given titles. The children run round the outside, trying to get back to their place fastest. The last child back faces into the circle to signal that they are out. The leader can also shout “Teacher’s coming” while the children are running, causing them to change direction. Also if “School’s out!” is shouted then everyone runs except those who are facing into the circle.
ALT: Fruit Salad. Leader gives kids names of fruits and then calls these out. “Fruit Salad” requires everyone to run round.
Group (8 people or as many are playing) sits in a circle. Leader (Big Buckie) names the chairs; Buckie 1, Buckie 2, Buckie3…with last chair in group being known as Wee Buckie. Leader and group starts game off with chant of, “BBBBBBBBIG Buckie…Oh Yeah…Big Buckie, Big Buckie, Big Buckie”. Start four beat clapping rhythm of your choice (suggestion of slap thighs, clap, click right fingers, click left fingers)…while clicking fingers of right hand leader says “Big Buckie” on clicking fingers on left hand leader selects other player by saying Buckie (and the relevant number of the person they have selected), e.g. “Buckie 6”
While maintaining the rhythm the game continues by Buckie 6 following similar instructions as above clicking right hand fingers saying Buckie 6 followed by clicking fingers on left followed with say Buckie 3. When the rhythm is broken or person makes mistake they become Wee Buckie. Group moves round and changes to the respective number of the chair they are sitting on. Game restarts with the leader saying “BBBBBBIG Buckie, Oh Yeah Big Buckie, Big Buckie, Big Buckie etc.
Object of the game is to NOT become Wee Buckie, and to become Big Buckie.
The group stands in a circle. The leader of the game pretends to put a pie in one person’s face and says “Splat!”. That person ducks down and the two people either side have to try and “splat” each other like the leader “splatted” the original person. The person who reacts slowest is out and sits down. This person then doesn’t exist in the game anymore. The game continues until only 3 or 4 people are left. However if the person the leader “splats” doesn’t duck down quickly enough then they are out themselves.
Sad and solemn occasion
Sit in a circle all crossed-legged and looking very solemn. Leader says “This is a sad and solemn occasion is it not brother/sister X? (says another players name)” That person must reply “Yes brother/sister (leaders name), it is indeed a most sad and solemn occasion. The “Reply-er” then becomes the Ask-er. The object of the game is not to laugh…but if you ham it up, it invariably does.
Ha – ha game
(Similar to above). Players lie down, each with their head resting on the previous players stomach (except player one). Players are numbered. First player must say (loudly) “HA”, player 2: “HA-HA”; player 3: “HA-HA-HA” etc. The object of the game is to get to the end of the line without anyone actually laughing.
ALT: a person who initiates some laughing is sent to the bottom of the line, other players move up and assume a new No. of “HA’s”.
Hey Harry Equipment required : Lipstick/marker
Sit group in circle. Leader starts by saying to the person on their left: “Hey Harry!” 2nd person replies, “Yes Harry!” 1st person: “Tell Harry!”. 2nd person then turns to the 3rd person and says: ”Hey Harry!” and repeats. Encourage this to go quickly. It is imperative that leaders are strict with the language used as this causes mistakes. When a mistake occurs that person has one spot of lipstick applied to the back of their hand. They become known as “One Spot”. Game then continues with person A saying,” Hey One Spot!”. Person B replies, ”Yes Harry”, Person A replies, ”Tell Harry!” For each mistake made you add one additional spot of lipstick.
Rather than using lipstick, have group place hands on their own knees. When person makes mistake they become known as “One Hand” and place one of their hands under their leg. Game continues. If same person makes consecutive mistakes totalling three they are eliminated from the game i.e. “One hand” then “Two Hands” then out.
This text was originally created and published as part of a document for Church of Scotland Summer Mission (Holiday Club) teams by Steve “The Juggler” Thomson. This version was updated by many more iMPACT members who I thank for enhancing it with even more wonderful information!