Children's Games for 3-5 Year Olds

By Carrie Perles ; Updated October 03, 2017

If you have a group of 3 to 5 year olds, you're probably desperate for some original games to play with them. Variations on more common games, such as tag and Duck, Duck, Goose are sure ways to win their attention and to keep the day fun and exciting.

Splish, Splish, Splash!

This variation of Duck, Duck, Goose is fun to play on a hot day. Give the child who is “it” a cup of water. As the child walks around the circle, have him pour a small drop of water onto the head of each child he passes, saying “splish.” When the child reaches the person he wants to tag, he should spill the entire cup of water on the person’s head and should yell “splash!” before running around the circle. The game continues with the same rules as Duck, Duck, Goose.

Bandana Tag

Give each child, except for the one who is “it,” a brightly-colored bandana to wear. Play a regular game of tag, but when one child tags another, the tagged child removes the bandana and turns into a second “it.” Soon, most of the children will be “it,” and only a few will still be wearing bandanas. The last child to be tagged wins the game and becomes the first “it” for the next game.

Cup-Half-Full Relay Race

Divide children into two teams, and line them up to begin the relay race. Set out two rows of cups at the other end of the room, one for each team. The number of cups should equal one more than the number of children on each team. Fill the first cup in the row with water, and use a marker to draw a line halfway up on the last cup in the row. When the whistle blows, children should run towards the cup, pour the water from the first cup into the second cup, and then run back and tag the next runner. The team who fills the last cup first wins, but only if the water still reaches the line on the last cup. (Some water will inevitably spill with 3-5 year old players!)

About the Author

Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.