Rattlesnake Rukkus Place some dried beans into a small plastic bottle (such as a film canister). Place the bottle inside a sock. Stuff the sock with newspapers and tie off the end. Seat your guests in a circle and toss the rattlesnake around the circle to music (like hot potato game). When the music stops the one bitten (has the rattlesnake) by the rattlesnake is out of the game. Continue until one person is left.
Round Up the Herd For this game, you will need two brooms, rope, a long string to mark your course, and several balloons. Rope off an area in your yard or home to make a “corral.” Inside it, make an obstacle course using boxes, chairs, bushes, trees, etc. Mark the path of your obstacle course with string. Divide your party guests into two teams and line up both teams at the starting line. Give the first person in each line a broom and 3 balloons. (Be sure to use different colored balloons for each team). Each player must use the broom to herd his or her wild ponies (balloons) through the course inside the corral. To complete their turns, guests must herd their balloons through the entire course before passing the broom and balloons to the next player. If a balloon pops, the player must take a new balloon to the starting line. The first team to finish wins!
Lasso Contest For this activity, use the same objects and “corral” from the first activity. Simply tie a rope into a large circle and let each child take a turn trying to toss it around your stallion (rocking horse, chair, etc.) For fun, place a cowboy hat on each guest’s head when it is his or her turn to try and lasso the wild mustang!
Elusive Apples Before the party, purchase a small apple for each child, and tie a string to each stem. Hang all the apples in a row at an even level, from a tree branch, swing set, etc. Be sure the apples are low enough so the children can reach them with their mouths. To begin, tell your “stallions” and “mares” that they must eat the apple like a wild horse would – from a tree – using only their mouths (no hands!) It will be challenging to keep the apples still long enough to take a bite. After a period of time, see which mustang has eaten the most of his or her apple. Be sure to have your camera ready for this fun photo opportunity!
Pin the Tail on the... Creative different versions of Pin the Tail on the Donkey; "Pin the Tail on the Horse or Pony", "Pin the Horn on the Unicorn", "Pin the Hat on the Cowgirl", "Pin the Mustache on the Outlaw", "Pin the Kiss on the Cowboy"... This twist on a classic game will bring a smile to every horse lover’s face at your party! Draw a picture of a mustang on a large piece of butcher paper, or purchase a movie poster featuring Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Then, cut a tail from construction paper for each child and add tape to the back. While blindfolded, give each child a chance to stick his or her tail on the mustang. Whoever comes closest, wins!
Horseshoe Toss To prepare for this game, hammer two stakes into the ground a good distance apart. (Keep in mind the age of your guests and their ability level when setting the distance.) If you do not have real horseshoes (or find they are too heavy for your guests), make tossing rings out of rope. Form rings that are about 10″ in diameter, so they will easily slip over the stakes. Use masking tape or string to designate a line that players must stand behind when tossing the horseshoes. Split your guests into teams, or keep an ongoing count of who tosses their horseshoes, or rings, around the stakes most often.
Run for the Roses Relay Race Trot to the finish line with this fun relay game. Before the party cut four sunflower shapes out of poster board (or cardboard will do, and you can color it). Each sunflower should be approximately 12-15 inches across. Divide your party guests into two teams and give the first person in each line two sunflowers. These sunflowers become the only thing they can step on as they travel front the front of the line, around a chair, and back again. Place one sunflower on the floor, step on it, place the next sunflower on the floor in front of the first and step on it. Pick up the first sunflower and place it in front and step on it, etc. This game will keep your guests rolling in laughter as they race to the finish line.
Candy Necklaces You will need two feet of yarn for each guest, candy or sweet cereal with holes, and small bowls to put them in. Before the party, fill the small bowls with the candy or cereal and place them within easy reach of your guests at the party table. Give each child a length of yarn and let them create their own edible necklaces, a bridle, and reins for their play pony, or anything that comes to mind!
Round Up the Herd For this game you will need two brooms, a long string to mark your course, six balloons (and a few extra in case any should pop). Set up an obstacle course in your party area using boxes, chairs, bushes, trees, etc. Mark the path of your obstacle course with string. Divide your party guests into two teams and line up both teams at the starting line. Give the first person in each line a broom and three balloons. (Be sure to use different colored balloons for each team). They must use the broom to herd their wild ponies (balloons) through the course. Each player must herd their balloons through the entire course to complete their turn. The first team to finish the course wins! If a balloon pops during a player’s turn, they must take the new balloon to the starting line.
Pan for Gold Bury pennies in a sandbox and let the kids sift through with pie pans to find the “gold” (punch holes in pie pans to allow sand but not pennies to fall through).
Needle in a Haystack Undo 2 bales of hay to form a pile. Hide small prizes in the hay for the kids to search for!
Shoot Out the Lights Line up 5 candles on a sturdy board and let the kids take turns with squirt guns “Shooting out The Lights!”
Charades Use farm animals, famous cowboys or outlaws, Western movies and more!
Go on a Treasure Hunt These are some treasure hunt ideas: You can scatter coins in the lawn and let the kids hunt for them, much like an Easter egg hunt. You can hide each child’s goodie bag and then give that child a piece of paper with a hint for finding it – it could be a simple map drawing for a young child, a word or two, or a riddle for older children. You can also let the children do a paper clue based hunt as a group – with the goodie bag for the youngest being the first found, along with the clue to the next goodie bag, and so on.
Scavenger Hunt Scavenger hunts are another fun way to entertain kids at birthday parties. Rather than encouraging competitiveness between teams, have children work together to find all the items. Hide items in your yard or designated rooms.
Dress-up Race Take 2 boxes and fill them with western clothing (hats, boots, flannels, dads levis – whatever!!!) Make 2 teams and have them race to put on all the clothes in the box and take them off again. The first team with all teammates dressed and undressed wins!
Rope the Pony Make two pony heads on broomsticks and stick them into the ground or bales of hay. Create two Lassos out of hula-hoops and ropes. Then form two teams and have a rodeo to see which team can rope their ponies first.
Pinata This is a game that requires room and good supervision – the children are blindfolded (or not, if they are young and don’t want to be) and they take a stick and try to break a hanging container that has candies and other small goodies in it. (Colorful Band-Aids were popular among the preschoolers here!). To make one, you can do something as simple as decorating a paper grocery bag with paints or crepe paper and then gluing and taping the top shut once the treats are inside. Run a string along the top edge before shutting the bag. You can also make a fancier one using a balloon and paper mache. The fun thing is that these can be decorated to match any theme.
Drop the Clothespin Into a Bottle This is another one that can be turned into a themed activity simply by using a coffee can with a plastic lid on it as the container to catch the clothespins. Cut a hole into the plastic lid appropriate for the age child. Then decorate the can.
Bean Bag Toss You can make an easy Bean Bag Toss using a double layer of poster board glued together and a large box. Use the large box as a base, and attach the poster board to one side of it. Before attaching the poster board, paint a design on it, allowing for one or more holes. We never kept score, but the kids had a lot of fun throwing those bean bags. One year we even gave bean bags as party favors – they’re easy to make from fabric scraps if you sew.
Make a Bracelet/Necklace This activity can be an activity the children can go to between other activities, or the main focus. A big bag of pony beads, some elastic cord, scissors and an adult to help when needed, and they can make their own jewelry. Be sure to supervise this one, so that necklaces and bracelets are not made too tight.
Make their Own Place Cards, Placemats, or Goody Bags! This activity could be as complex or simple as you want – children can decorate 3×5 cards, construction paper or brown paper bags to use as goody bag holders. They can decorate with a variety of stickers, cutouts, crayons, and colored pencils. If you have enough help to cover the place mats after they’re done with clear contact paper, they will last a long time.
Guess How Many Fill a jar with candy. Have children write their name on a small piece of paper and their guess as to how many candies are in the jar. The child who guesses the right number, or comes closest, gets a sucker. The candy in the jar is then divided among the children. A variation would be that the winner takes the jar of candy home to share with their family.
Concentration Use clip art to make matching cards to fit your birthday theme. Two of each picture mounted on sturdy card stock and laminated if desired.
Who Am I? When the children come through the door tape a farm animal or item/object to their backs. Through the course of the party, they may ask each other yes and no questions about what they are. Explain that the first question they may want to ask is “Am I an animal or an object?” At the end of the party, each child takes a turn saying what they think they are. Suggestions: cow, pig, sheep, pitchfork, saddle, horseshoe, hay, milk, barn, tractor, etc..
Charades Have one child come up to the front of the group and whisper the name of an animal, or something to do with your theme, to them. They then act out what the animal does. The rest of the kids try to guess the name of the animal.
Farm Buddies Is similar to Who Am I?, but this time you whisper in each child’s ear a name of a farm animal. Tell them that there is at least one other person that is the same animal as they are. Throughout the party, they may ask each other yes and no questions to try to figure out who their “Farm Buddy” is. At the end of the party tell everyone to go sit by who they think their buddy is. Go over the clues with the kids until they figure it out and everyone is sitting next to the correct buddy.
Birthday Dinner Players sit in a circle. The first player starts by saying, “At my birthday dinner I like to eat hamburgers”. The next player must repeat “At my birthday dinner I like to eat hamburger…” and add another dish. This continues all the way around the circle with each player reciting the dishes in the exact order they have been given and then adding a new one. If a player makes a mistake they slide out of the circle and the game continues. The person left who can perfectly recite the birthday dinner menu wins.
Button, Button, Who’s got the Button A child is chosen to be “it” and hides her eyes as a button is given to a child to hide in his lap or behind his back. “It” then has three chances to guess which child has the item. (All children hide their hands in their laps/behind their backs like they have it.) For animal themes, select an item that goes with the animal. If you’re doing a character theme like Cinderella it would be “Slipper, Slipper, Who’s got the Slipper”.
Duck, Duck, Goose Whatever the theme, substitute words from the theme for “duck” and “goose.” (like “Pika, Pika, CHU” or “Scooby Scooby Scooby DOOO”)
Hot Potato You can use virtually any item for the “potato” for this old favorite. For character parties use a stuffed toy of the character.
Pass the Rattlesnake A unique version of hot potato. Play country music as you pass a rubber/plastic snake. Whoever is left holding the snake when the music stops is bitten and is out!
Simon Says For character-themes replace “Simon” with a character from the theme. Children should listen carefully and only do what “Simon” says.
Red Rover Divide players into two teams. Each team forms a line by holding hands and stretching themselves out. The two teams face each other and should be about 25 feet apart or more. Each side takes turns calling, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (name) right over.” At that signal, the player called runs from his line and tries to break through the line of his/her opponents. If he breaks through, he can take one opponent back with him to his team. If he does not break through, he joins the other team. The team to add the most players wins.
Freeze Begin by playing music, everyone moves, and dances until the music stops then they must “freeze” in whatever position they happen to be in.
Musical Chairs For character themes based on movies or T.V. shows play music from the program and tape characters on each chair.