“When is my turn?” is an oft heard question in groups of children. This is a key question from the child’s viewpoint as many children have difficulty waiting for their chance to participate in the fun, so learning to take turns is a very important skill. Besides learning patience, taking turns also teaches communication skills, how to listen, even how to negotiate.

Some of the following games have clear opportunities to help your child develop turn taking.  The social challenge in these games increases as they progress from being played with an adult or other child, to playing with several other children and ultimately in a large group.

Easy turn taking games

To and Fro box:

This is a contained ball game for two children (or an adult and child) with a very short cycle and predictable, controlled turn taking.

To make a To and Fro box you will need a long and narrow box up to 1.8m in length and 10 – 20cm wide (a curtain rod box or the bottom of a box from a bike is great, or larger boxes like fridge boxes can be cut down and shaped to size). The sides should be at least the height of the ball.  You can also add a tunnel by covering the middle of the box to increase interest. Tape or hot glue any joins.

To play with the To and Fro box create a slope for the ball to roll down, then lift the other end to return the ball to the starting point. Children can be seated beside the box to sweep the ball.

Two Chute Box:

In this game the ball goes down a chute to one person then back down another chute to the first person.

This is a less predictable game for two children using one or more balls/cars. It can be improvised from any two chutes, pipes or tubes that are raised at opposite ends. Set the chutes into a box to catch the ball or car at the bottom to reduce complications.

One Long Chute 

This game is for one or more children who each set a ball/car off at the top, chase it down the chute, collect it at the bottom and repeat. An adult at both ends helps develop turn taking.

To make the chute(s) score cardboard with a blunt knife or flat head screwdriver then bend it to make a long chute. Use masking tape at either end to hold the shape. Undo the masking tape to flat pack for storage or transport. Another way to make chutes is with 90mm PVC pipe. Cut it into 60-120cm sections then cut it length ways with a jigsaw to make chutes. Round the corners with tin snips and sand any sharp edges.

Many sections of chutes can be joined on a slope or on the flat with a steep start.

In chute games plastic golf balls are safe and light. Bell balls for cats are interesting but the halves might need gluing first for safety.

We will take a look at some more complex turn taking games in our next post.