Become a master of entertaining kids

Some people just have that knack of entertaining groups of kids. They know how to talk to them, can predict what they’ll find entertaining and can get down on the carpet and play with them without inhibition. If you’re not one of these people you’ll no doubt be impressed, and also mildly confused. How DO they do that? It’s no mean feat to be able to walk into a room full of four year olds and start telling a story, including doing the voices as easily as they can walk into a room full of adolescents and not embarrass themselves by talking about a teenage sensation whose star waned not more than twenty minutes ago.

If you’re not one of these people blessed with a natural child affinity, it’s possible to learn how to bluff it. And here’s how.

It’s all about preparation. If you’re facing a situation where you’ll be dealing with children, babysitting nephews or nieces, attending a wedding where kids will be in attendance, doesn’t matter. The key is preparation. First of all, learn a story you can tell them. Not one of the standard skits but one they won’t have heard before. If you can do the voices and go on a freestyle riff, so much the better. And make it scary. Kids love that stuff.

If the kids aren’t in the mood for listening, you could come prepared by looking for entertaining toys and gadgets from the likes of Toddlers Stuff. Be sure to read their product reviews.

If all else fails, you could do worse than encouraging them to play a new game. One with simple rules that doesn’t take any preparation or need any kit beyond what you’ll find around the room.

Rumplestiltskin

Choose a hider and give them a napkin. The rest of the group leave the room and the hider hides the napkin somewhere with just a corner showing. The seekers have to find the napkin somewhere in the room, but they’re not allowed to touch anything. Once you see the napkin, you say “Rumplestiltskin” but don’t let on where you saw it. Once everyone has said Rumplestiltskin, the first person to see the napkin is the hider for the next round.

Who Said What Now?

This game is completely pointless but it passes time. It’s a mash-up of word association and Chinese Whispers. Sit the kids in a circle, and have to first one whisper a word to the child next to them, that child then has to whisper the first word that they think of to the next child. After each round ask the children to tell you what they said to get a unique insight into the workings of their minds.

Ming Mang Mong

Again, sit in a circle. Pick someone to start. They point at someone and say ‘Ming’. Ming must now point at someone and say ‘Mang’. Mang points to someone and says ‘Mong’. It doesn’t sound hard but it gets faster and faster. If anyone says the wrong name they’re out, but they are allowed to try to distract the players who are left. Utter chaos ensues.

Smile For Me

Tell one of the children “Honey, if you really loved me, you’d give me a smile!” They have to say “Honey, I love you, but I just can’t give you a smile!” without smiling. If they say it without smiling do whatever it takes to make them smile or laugh. Once they crack, it’s their go to tell someone “Honey, if you really loved me, you’d give me a smile!”

Wanna Buy a Donkey?

One child has to be the Donkey. You also need a Salesman. The rest of the kids sit in a circle around the donkey and salesman and the salesman selects a potential buyer. The salesman asks “Wanna buy a donkey?” Of course the child doesn’t and says so. So the salesman starts in with the pitch. They say something like “But this donkey can stand on its hands and bark like a dog!” Naturally the donkey has to do what the salesman says it can and when the prospective buyer laughs, they become the donkey and the donkey becomes the salesman.