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Five-minute Games for Nursery and Sunbeams

Greeting Song

Sing to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”
“Where is Derek? Where is Derek?”
“Here I am, Here I am” (Derek answers)
“How are you today, sir?”
“Very well, I thank you.” (Derek answers)
Glad you’re here, glad you’re here (everyone sings)
Continue with another child

Teddy Bear

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, climb the stairs.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, say your prayers.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn out the light.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, say “Goodnight”.

Jack Be Nimble

Place several unlit candlesticks (real or imaginary) around the room. The small orange soccer cones work well.
Help the children learn “Jack be Nimble”
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick.
Choose one child to be “Jack”.
Jack tries to jump over a candlestick while the others recite the rhyme.
Choose another child to be “Jack”
Repeat this game with a taller candlestick.


The children crouch down while reciting the first three lines of the rhyme in very soft voices.
On the last line, they jump up and say, “Yes, I will!” in big voices

Sits so still.
Won’t you come out?

To Market, To Market

Choose one child to be the pig.
The pig stands at one end of the room.
Choose another child to go to the market.
This child stands on the opposite end of the room.
The others chant the rhyme.

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

The child going to the market hops across the room to get to the child who is the pig.
He takes the pig’s arm, and together they hop back to the other side of the room.
Choose two new children to play the game.
Additional verses included:

To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.

Magic Wand

Make a wand or purchase an inexpensive fairy wand.
Tell the children that you are going to sing “Old MacDonald” and that whoever is tapped on the shoulder by the magic wand will get to choose the animal and make the animal sound. (You can also use this with the “Fun to Do” Song.)

Sing the song, and when you reach the words “And on his farm he had a ______,” tap a child on the shoulder.
That child names and animal for that verse.
During the next verse, the child will hold the magic wand and tap another child on the shoulder.

One Potato

This popular counting game has been a favorite for children for many years.
Sit the children in a circle.
Ask them to make fists with both hands and hold their fists in front of their bodies
Choose a leader to tap each first as all the children say, “One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.”
The fist that is tapped on the word “more” goes behind the child’s back.
Start the game again and continue until only one fist remains.
The child becomes the leader for the next round of the game.

Duck, Duck, Goose

This very popular game never loses its magic.
Seat the children in a circle and choose one child to be “it”.
That child walks around the circle and taps the others on the head saying “duck”.
When she taps a child on the head and says “goose,” that child gets up and runs around the circle trying to tag the child who is “it”.
If the child who is “it” sits down in the empty place before she is caught, the new child becomes “it”.

May I cross your Bridge?

This is a good game to play after the children know the story of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”.
All the children line up on one side of the room.
Choose one child to be the troll.
The troll stands opposite the line of children.
The children say, “Mr. Troll, Mr. Troll, may we cross your bridge?”
Mr. Troll says, “You may hop across my bridge if you are wearing blue.”
All the children wearing blue hop across to the other side of the room.
The rest of the children say, “Mr. Troll, Mr. Troll, may we cross your bridge?”
Mr. Troll say, “You may jump across my bridge if you are wearing black.
Each time the troll names a different color and movement, until everyone is across the room.

Simon Says (make a sound)

In this version, Simon Says to make sounds rather than do something.
Simon says, “cough”. Simon says, “sneeze.” Simon says, “Laugh”, etc.
Instead of “Simon”, let the leader use his own name or pretend to be his favorite character in a book. (Use “The Prophet says,” or “The Bishop says”)

I’m Thinking of …

Say “I’m thinking of someone in the class who …”
Add clues about this child.
Describe his clothes, something he is good at, any kind of positive observation.
The rest of the children guess his identity.
Children love to hear about themselves. This game also helps children get to know each other better.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Ask the children to listen to the questions.
Explain that their thumbs, not their voices, will answer the questions.
If the answer to the question is “yes”, they should put their thumbs up.
If the answer to the question is “no, they should put their thumbs down.
Questions to which yes is the answer could include
Do you like ice cream? or
Do you like to play outside?
Questions to which no is the answer could include silly questions like
Does a cow give juice? Or
Did you fly your airplane to church today?

The Children are Sleeping

The children lie on the floor and cover their faces while pretending to be asleep.
Say “The children are sleeping, the children are sleeping, and when they wake up, they will be…” (animals, cars, plants growing, etc.)
The children pretend to wake up and be whatever you said.
Play the game several times.
At the end of the game, say “When they wake up, they will be children again.”

If I …

Help the children think about cause and effect.
Begin a sentence with “If I …”
Encourage the children to think of possible outcomes, for example:
If I water the flowers, they will grow.
If I pick up my toys…
If I go outside without a coat …
If I go to bed with my clothes on …
If I take a toy from my classmate …
If I tell a lie…

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