Whether you’re on a camping trip and staying up late, or it is winter and there aren’t many daylight hours in which to play, the children won’t be able to wait to get out in the dark with these fun play activities. They could also help children who are afraid of the dark discover that darkness can be fun; give them a head torch or flashlight, hold their hand and venture out together.
You will need…
Other items you could use
We find head torches work particularly well for my daughter with poor eyesight.
Taking torches/flashlights outside is also a great way to observe the weather. Mist looks really eerie under a flashlight and you can watch raindrops in in the light rays.
Games to play
1. Flashlight/torch tag
The children run around, one child has a flashlight/torch and has to tag the other children by shining a light beam at them.
2. Grandmothers footsteps
The children quietly sneak up to the grandmother and if she hears footsteps she shines her flashlight/torch at the culprit and they return to the start. The object is to steal a piece of treasure she has at her side (we’ve used glow in the dark balls or glow sticks) and get back to the start with them without being caught.
3. Hide and Seek
My children love to play hide and seek so this is a real favourite. Hiding in the dark means you can find so many more great hiding places. The seeker uses their flashlight to find those who are hiding.
4. Glow in the dark water play
We added glow in the dark paint to water in our water table (a bowl or bucket would also work) .Drop in some glowing stars and moons, water beads and a variety of containers. Have fun making ‘star soup’.
I also love this idea from active dark, using glow sticks in a pool.
5. Treasure hunt
Fill plastic Easter eggs with mini battery operated lights – you can also add water beads for an extra effect. Hide them around the garden and look out for where the lights are shining. My girls also enjoy hiding the eggs inside their clothes.
6. Glow in the dark sensory play
Add glow in the dark paint or pigment powder to goop (corn starch and water), water beads, play dough, shaving foam, or play dough. Make sure to charge it in the light first.
7. Glow in the dark painting
Paint on black paper with glow in the dark paint – you could put a large sheet on the fence or alternatively, mix the paint with corn-starch and a little water and paint directly onto the ground. It washes away really easily in the rain. We’ve used this to paint hopscotch on the driveway and used glow in the dark balls as markers.
8. Shadow play
Children love to play with shadows. Use flashlights or outdoor lights to cast shadows onto white walls or even better erect a white sheet between fences or trees and get the children to stand against it making shadows and shapes.
9. Light tables
We made a homemade light table from a translucent plastic box with a black lid. Turn the box upside down and place inside battery operated lights and /or fairy light There are all kinds of activities you can do with a light table . You can place natural materials, glass beads, buttons or candy wrappers on top to make patterns, spread sand or rice on top to make marks or use interesting coloured containers.
10. Look at the stars.
On a clear night what could be better than looking at the stars? We printed out a map of the stars but just to look up into the night sky can be awe inspiring.
11. Use glow in the dark balls or light up balloons to play catch or volleyball.
12. Swing glow sticks to see what patterns they can make or build constructions with glow sticks.