Relay races are an enjoyable way to teach children positive sportsmanship, how to work as a team and follow simple directions. No matter if you’re suffering through a cold snap or blessed enough to live in a tropical climate, why not draw inspiration from the ultimate underdog story, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, while planning a relay race for your kid’s birthday part or play date? Not only are the games fun, they’re also the best way to run every last ounce of energy out of an unruly pack of preschoolers.
Santa is Behind Schedule
No one likes the idea of missing out on a gift from Santa Claus, right? So why not put the “urge” in “urgency” by helping your kids play a relay game called “Santa’s Behind Schedule”? In this game, each child is given the title “Rudolph” and a circle of red construction paper to tape on their noses to prove it. Prepare for the event by wrapping up any box you can get your hands on — the more the better — with festive Christmas paper. Divide the boxes into even numbers for each team and come up with a Start and Finish Line.
On “Go,” each team must get the boxes from the North Pole to the kids as fast as possible. Go ahead and be creative, or even devious, when determining how the kids must get the boxes from Point A to Point B. You might consider putting a blindfold on one team member and instructing the others to call out directions from the start to the end point.
Red Nosed Spoon Race
Take a twist on the old favorite by turning spoons into Rudolph’s shiny red nose. For a playdate of five, pull out five metal spoons. Cut out and attach red circles of construction paper to the backs of the utensils. Line the kids up and instruct them to balance the spoon’s bowl — bet you didn’t know that’s what it’s called — on their nose’s tip while running from one point to another in the backyard or living room. Once one child finishes the line, it’s up to another to cross the same. If each child gets across the line, reward the team with a treat.
Pop Rudolph’s Red Nose
The game “Pop Rudolph’s Red Nose” is a relatively inexpensive yet messy way to spend an afternoon with the kids on a bright, sunny day. It is, however, not a great “rainy day” activity, because it does involve the irritating sound of popping balloons. All you need to play is as many red balloons as you can find. Blow up all the balloons right before the race, or run the risk of fighting with your kids to keep their hands off.
Divide the kids into teams of three to four and on “Go” instruct one child from each to begin popping as many Rudolph noses as possible in 10 seconds. The children switch after 10 seconds and the game continues until all the balloons are popped. If you don’t mind cleaning up a potentially disastrous mess, fill the balloons with shaving cream and watch as the kids delight in being covered with Rudolph’s snot. Supervise this activity closely and immediately pick up any popped balloons from the ground to avoid a choking hazard.
Red Nose Bean Bag Toss
If you’re gifted with a skill saw, go ahead and create a bean bag toss game inspired by the classic red-nosed misfit. Wood is a sturdier option for creating the board, but if you didn’t exactly ace shop class in high school, go ahead and cut three or four holes large enough to accommodate the bags out of a flattened cardboard box. Draw a representation of Rudolph’s head on the cardboard or wood and create one hole where his red nose should be, and two to three additional holes anywhere on the board.
Hand the kids red bean bags and instruct them to take turns tossing the bean bags at Rudolph’s face. Assign point values to each hole, but kids get the most points for flinging the red bag where Rudolph’s nose should be.