Birthday Party Ice Breakers and Games for Kids

By Kimberly Dyke
Plan some games for your child's birthday party to keep them engaged.
Plan some games for your child's birthday party to keep them engaged.

Party games and icebreakers can engage kids during a birthday party to help them get over the shyness of meeting new people, or just to get everyone warmed up and ready to enjoy themselves. Games can last a few minutes or continue through the duration of the party, depending on the age of the party guests and their attention spans.

Outdoor Games

For an outdoor party, parents can organize classic picnic games. Have half of the guests draw a name from a hat to select their partner in a three-legged race, line everyone up together for a sack race in old pillow cases, or try the egg-on-a-spoon relay race with teams. For some wet and wild time, plan a water balloon toss competition or set up targets to shoot with water pistols -- hang plastic toys from a tree, paint a bulls-eye on a piece of cardboard, or tack balloons to a cork board.

Circle Games

Playing circle games is an easy way to get your party guests to connect and laugh together. Do you remember playing the rumor game as a kid at camp? One person starts by whispering something to the person next to them. That person whispers it to the next person, and so forth, until the message has passed through the entire circle. Kids delight in seeing how the message changes with each person. Other vintage circle games include hot potato, duck duck goose, and the string game. For the string game, participants take turns tossing a ball of yarn to someone else in the circle while still holding their end of the string. Whoever catches the ball must answer a question about themselves, such as, “What is your favorite hobby?” or “What is your favorite dessert?” The string forms a web between the guests that helps make them feel connected to each other.


Plan an adventure to add some excitement to your child’s birthday party. Indoors, hide the pieces to a puzzle throughout the party space, and direct the children to search for them. Everyone who finds a piece must bring it to a center area to try to build the puzzle together. For an outdoor adventure, plan a scavenger hunt that gathers physical pieces like acorns and leaves, or design a digital hunt where kids take pictures of the items on their list, such as a blue house or a red bird. Treasure hunts are also well-loved, and help unite kids together to figure out clues, follow a map, and find the treasure that Mom and Dad have hidden away in a secret place.

Music and Dance

Most kids love to dance and listen to music. Get everyone on their feet with a quick game of musical chairs or teach an easy-to-learn dance, like the Hula or the Electric Slide. Party goers will line up for a chance to do the limbo to some groovy reggae music, and when everyone is warmed up, why not host a dance-off, where kids can dance until they drop into a heap of laughter?

About the Author

Kimberly Dyke is a Spanish interpreter with a B.A. in language and international trade from Clemson University. She began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in education, parenting and culture. Currently residing in South Carolina, Dyke has received certificates in photography and medical interpretation.