Favorite Games and Activities for Mixed-Age Groups

Favorite activities for mixed-age groups

Since I have four kids who are different ages, I am always on the lookout for games and activities that work for mixed ages. Here are some of our favorites, and I would love to hear your favorite games and activities for mixed-age groups in the comments!

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Crafts for Mixed-Age Groups

collaborative art for mixed-age groups

My kids love crafting together! Here are some of our favorite multi-age craft projects:

  • Collaborative art. Take a large sheet of paper and let each kid add something to the picture. If kids aren’t used to working together like this, it is sometimes helpful to have them use different art media. For the picture above, Emma was painting, and Anna had stickers. AT the end, all four kids added details with pens and Sharpie markers.
  • Painting. My kids love painting together – on sheets of paper, cardboard, or any other medium. Pre kids, I worked with groups of refugee kids who ranged in age from kindergartners to high school, and they all loved painting too.
  • Sensory art. You can go low-mess with contact paper or high-mess-but-easy-clean-up with corn starch, but either way mixed aged groups tend to enjoy sensory activities, particularly when materials are being used in unusual ways.

Games for Mixed-Age Groups

  • The Super Sorting Pie pictured above was a recent find. I was looking for a good game for my kids to practice using tongs, and I loved the cute pieces in this game. For two-year-old Anna, this is a color recognition game – match the fruit to the color. For older kids, we add the challenge that they have to pick up and transfer the fruit without any of the other pieces moving, like in Pick Up Sticks.
  • I love games that even the playing field between kids and adults, and Spot It is one of those games! Each card has exactly one match, to every other card in the tin, and you have to be the first to spot the match!

  • In Honeybee Tree, you try to pull as many leaves as possible out of the tree without waking up the bees. When two-year-old Anna plays this game we switch the rules so that you try to get the bees out as quickly as possible!

Active Games for Mixed-Age Groups

  • Move like little kids. Take any sport, and change it so that you are moving in a way that adults and teens don’t usually move. Play soccer while crabwalking, race across a field by walking on your hands.
  • Create two sets of rules. Let kids who are younger than a certain age double dribble, and give them a closer starting line. For kids who are close to the cut-off, it might be best to let them pick which set of rules they want to play by. Often kids will challenge themselves if they know they aren’t being forced to.
  • Mix up teams. Pair more skilled players with less skilled, but choose games – like three-legged races – that require collaboration between teammates.

What are your favorite games and activities for mixed-age groups?

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

18 thoughts on “Favorite Games and Activities for Mixed-Age Groups”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    These are fun! We have races for the kids across our small living room sometimes, while the final touches are being added to dinner. We try to adapt the races so they are pretty fair across ages. They love it!

  2. I was surprised that my kids liked painting together too, even though they’re different ages. I like how the younger ones copy the older one and try to do what he does.

  3. I always like games with a wide variety of difficulty, and you have a lot of good suggestions here. I’m pinning this and sharing it, I know some homeschooling Moms who could really use it.

  4. Great ideas! We love the honeybee tree game! Another game that we think is fun is called Obstacles. You have journey cards that depict different kinds of scenery/obstacles. You have to creatively use your object cards to find a way through the scene. Some objects are a football helmet, a swim toy, a spring, stilts, etc. All ages can play and the imaginations run wild! Pinned.

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