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Fun and Frugal Games for Kindergarten

By Allie Magnuson on March 19, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

As a kindergarten teacher, I’m always on the lookout for learning games that are both fun and frugal. Believe it or not, the most basic and inexpensive items can make up the most fun games. The best items are those that can be used to devise a variety of games for a variety of purposes. Look around you and be creative! Almost anything can be turned into a game.

Here are six of my own incredibly fun, incredibly frugal games. They are best played in small groups, but you can adjust the number of participants depending on your class size.

Have fun and stay frugal!


Game: Jump & Count

Skill: counting
Equipment: jump rope or skip ball
Number of players: one
Object: to count to a certain number

How to Play:

The player counts each jump, and keeps going until the desired number is reached. If he or she forgets a number or misses a jump, the game starts over again.

Game: Slap the Magic Number

Skill: number recognition
Equipment: deck of cards, minus the face cards (jacks, queens, kings, and aces)
Number of Players: two
Object: to win all the cards in the deck

How to Play:

First, determine a "magic number" between 1 and 10. Shuffle the cards and divide them (one at a time and face down) between player one and player two. Once each player has a pile of cards in front of them, play begins.

Player one flips over the first card in his or her pile, and places it in the center of the table. Player two does the same, putting a card on top of player one’s. They keep going until the magic number appears. The first player quick enough to slap the "magic number" wins all the cards in the pile. The game continues until one player has won all the cards.

Game: High and Low

Skills: addition and subtraction
Equipment: two dice, paper and pencil
Number of Players: two
Object: to have the most points at the end of the game

How to Play:

First, determine whether players will be adding or subtracting. Player one rolls the dice and either adds or subtracts the numbers, as previously determined. Player two does the same. Whichever player has the higher number (if adding) or the lower number (if subtracting) gets a point. Keep a tally for each player. After ten rounds, count up the tallies. Whoever has the most points wins.


Game: Syllable Song

Skill: Syllables
Equipment: drum, picture cards
Number of Players: one
Object: to put cards in the correct pattern while drumming out the syllables

How to Play:

Explain to the player that one-syllable words are represented by the letter A, two-syllable words are represented by the letter B, and three-syllable words are represented by the letter C. Create a pattern that you want the player to follow (e.g. A, B, A, A, C) then spread out the picture cards. The player must find any cards depicting things that have the number of syllables that match the pattern and put them in order. After creating three patterns, the player drums out the syllables to create a “Syllable Song.”

Game: Laser on the Letters

Skill: letter recognition
Equipment: laser pointer, book
Number of Players: one
Object: to find all the occurrences of a particular letter

How to Play:

Give the player a book and tell them to point out, with the laser pointer, all occurrences of a certain letter. Keep a mental tally for the player. At the end, compare the tally against the actual number. If the player missed a letter, the game starts over again.


Game: Guess My Word

Skill: letter sounds
Equipment: magnet alphabet letters, two tin pencil cases
Number of Players: two
Object: to correctly guess the other player’s word

How to Play:

Each player gets a tin pencil case full of magnetic letters. Player one makes a word on the inside lid of his or her pencil case and sounds out each letter for player two. By listening to the sounds, player two tries to make the same word. The guesser's word goes on the outside lid.

Comments (5)

Nice collection of games! Thanks!!

Love your ideas for frugal games!

I really like the magnetic letter activity with the student segmenting the word for the other chid. The jump rope game is fun, gets the children up and moving as well as being academic.

Fun ideas. Love the magnetic letters and sounding out the word. Think jump rope game would be fun and gets the children up and active.

Thanks for the reminder that there are some great learning games can be played with simple items that we all have laying around! We all spend so much of our personal money already on our students :)

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