10 Ways to Play if You Only Have 30 Minutes

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Your busy family is often short on time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t crank out memorable moments, even if they’re brief. So the next time your crew has half an hour to spare, bust out one of these quick activities everyone can play.

photo: Shannon via Flickr

1. Get slimed. It’s ooey. It’s gooey. It’s the science trend of the moment. And if your budding chemist hasn’t hopped on this train, now’s the time. Find out how to make slimes of all sorts (we’re talking fluffy, glitter, clear and more) at Little Bins For Little Hands, and then get mixing. Our tip? Purchase the ingredients ahead of time, and pull ‘em out when you’ve got 30 minutes to spare.

2. Steal the stuffie. You’ve got to be quick on your (tip) toes to nab the stuffed animal in this game. To set it up, start off with one player seated, her back toward the others, and a prized stuffie placed behind her. Once she’s set, it’s time to make a sneaky attempt to grab the prize. If the seated player hears anyone approaching, she turns around and sends everyone back to the beginning. But if no one’s there, she trades places with another player and becomes part of the approaching pack. If anyone’s finally able to reach the stuffed animal, she or he wins and takes a turn standing guard.

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

3. Spin a yarn. Your creative kiddo doesn’t need to be a master storyteller to spin a tale or two—the plot of this story is in the bag. To start, collect three to six random objects from around the house, and throw them in a bag. Any item will work, so have fun selecting silly, odd and even everyday objects. Then, let your Little weave a riveting narrative that incorporates each of the objects from the bag into the story. This one’s best for grade schoolers who’ll totally be up to the creative, zany challenge.

4. Find the missing pair. The brilliance of this matching game is in its simplicity. All you need to play is a bunch of shoes (including the ones your kidlet’s got on) and a blindfold. Gather the shoes in a pile, and then throw only one of your sidekick’s shoes on top. Put the blindfold on, mix the shoes up a bit, and have her search out the missing match. Here’s the kicker—sibs or parents can give her guidance by shouting out directions (like “dig deeper, or one more to your left”) as she rifles through the pile. It doesn’t get easier than that!

photo: Official Bicycle Cards’ Facebook

5. Cut the deck. With half an hour to spare, you’ve got just enough time to pull out a trusty deck of cards and play a few rounds of kindie faves like Go Fish, War or Slapjack. Turn play time into a “best of” match so these quick five-minute games go the distance.

6. Head out on a hunt. This no-plan-needed scavenger hunt’s simplicity will put a smile on your face. Parents can pull it out at a moment’s notice, and every time you play it’s different. When your crew is ready, simply pick a category and a quantity (“find four triangles” or “find five objects that start with an ‘a’”) and then send them on their way. They’ll be searching out colors, shapes, letters or numbers on each run! Psst … it’s even better when sibs or friends set the search parameters.

photo: John Brooks via Flickr

7. Follow the leader. Let your silly sidekick bust out his best moves for this old school game. To play, your leader needs to strut his stuff (think: walking backward, taking bunny hops or dance walking) as he leads sibs, friends or parents through the house or around the yard until he’s back at his starting spot. Now it’s time for someone else to take a turn. Your preschooler won’t want to get off of this train!

8. Set up a sumo-wrestling match. Got pillows? Then your wiggly worms are ready to bump, bop and be bowled over during a sibling sumo wrestling match. Allison at All for the Boys has the hook up you need to make it happen.

photo: andrechinn via Flickr

9. Hop to it. Inside or out, pillow sack races never get old. So hit the linen closet and set your kids hopping around the house or in a backyard relay. Even if they’re flying solo, wiggle worms can partake. Time them as they bounce from start to finish, with the goal of getting a new P.R. each time. And, they’re off!

10. Stop, hammer time. Setting up a hammer busy bag, designed by Sue at One Time Through is a total cinch. And your tool-loving tot will have a blast hammering out her name, numbers and ABC’s when she’s on the lookout for a fast activity.

Do you think you’ll try one of these? Have another 30-minute activity to add? Leave it in a comment.

— Allison Sutcliffe

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