It’s perfectly natural for children to feel shy when they first arrive at a party, even if it involves children they know. Icebreaker games that get them talking, working together and telling everyone their name should help to get the party started — and before you know it you’ll be trying to work out how to calm them all down again!
Get everyone sitting in a circle before handing a Teddy bear or other character toy to one of the children. Get each child to tell the character their name before passing it to the next child. When they have all had a turn, stand in the middle of the circle holding the Teddy and pretend to talk in his voice as you try to remember all the names. Deliberately pronounce them all wrong — hopefully to lots of giggles.
Now have the children tell the Teddy their names again and repeat the process, saying all the names wrong again until all the children start chipping in to correct him. This should help your guests learn some of the other names as well as break the ice.
Draw pictures of familiar animals on pieces of paper to pin onto the children’s backs. You’ll need two of each. If you are nervous about your artistic talent, print pictures from the Internet. Pin an animal onto each guest’s back and tell everyone they have to find out what is on their back by asking others “what noise does my animal make?” Once they have guessed their animal, they need to pair up with the other person with the same one. Each pair then needs to sit down and draw a picture of their animal together.
A game of tag gets everyone involved and encourages children to help each other. One person is the “shark” who has to try catching all the “little fish.” When a child is touched by the shark, he has to stand still with his legs apart until another fish swims through them and frees him. The shark wins if he gets all the fish to be still at once. Another version of tag is to have one person as the spider, running around trying to catch the flies.
Anyone caught joins hands until you have a long line of children moving around together.
Tell the kids you need help decorating the house for the party and get them all involved in a piece of giant artwork. Use a roll of paper or wall lining paper and unroll it so it is big enough for everyone to fit around — you may have to do this on the floor. Provide a big pile of crayons and ask your guests to get drawing — perhaps along the theme of the party if you have one. If you are brave enough, you could provide glue and some craft items such as sequins to stick on