11 awesome swing games for toddlers and preschoolers. Make swinging even more fun with 11 swing set games for toddlers and parents to play!
My 3-year old is an absolute swing nut.
As soon as we hit the play ground, she’s running for the swing set. And she refuses to leave until she’s had a chance to swing on every single swing at the playground. Multiple times.
When we travel, she’s always on the lookout for swings! And we’ve found some gems.
Suffice it to say, she loves swinging. Which, in my experience, is fairly normal for kids at the toddler stage.
Watching my daughter while she’s swinging, it’s easy to understand the appeal. The wind in her hair, a massive smile on her face, and a pure feeling of bliss and freedom.
We all should be so lucky to feel that.
Swing Games Are The Perfect Way to Amp Up the Swings
While my daughter loves the swings, I sometimes fall victim to swing set boredom.
When you’re standing behind your little one, pushing them, it’s easy for your mind to wander, and not be fully engaged as a parent.
When I catch myself in those situations, I feel a bit down – my daughter is living in the moment, experiencing the joy of being outside playing, free, and swinging through the air ….
and I’m thinking about work.
Neighborhood Parents to the Rescue
A couple of weeks ago, we were at our neighborhood park, and I was pushing my kiddo in a bucket swing.
A neighborhood dad and daughter came along, and started playing games on the swing next to us. His daughter was having so much fun and laughing so hard, she had to gulp for air between laughs. My daughter soon followed suit.
The laughter was infectious, and we got in on the fun, with our swing neighbors teaching us their swinging game!
Since then, I’ve adapted it and created my own games to play on the swing.
Today, I want to share my favorite.
Note, most of these games are meant for toddlers in bucket swings. And always make safety a priority!
11 Swing Games to Play
1. Kick the Hat
Kick the Hat was our introduction to swinging games, and it’s still a favorite.
Basically, I push a few times to get my kid swinging in a bucket swing, and then stand in front.
Hat in my hand, I hold it out so it’s within reach of my daughter’s foot when she’s at the top/front of the “swinging cycle.”
She tries to give it a light kick and I release, causing it to fly out of my hand. We watch and laugh as it goes flying, free from my grasp.
I’ve yet to meet a 2 or 3 year old who doesn’t find this classic cause and effect hilarious.
It’s also great for motor skills and hand-foot coordination!
2. Catch the Hat
A variation on Kick the Hat, this time your child tries to catch the hat, either with their hands (fairly easy), or their legs (harder).
It’s still very funny, especially when they catch it and then set it free, launching it into the air for you to catch.
3. Swing Ball
This is a fun twist on basket ball. Again, we play it in a bucket swing, because little ones will need to use their hands, so they need to be safe and secure within the swing, and not going too high.
Basically, you need a “ball” (something to throw), and a “net” (somewhere for them to throw the ball into).
For something to throw, a small ball is an easy choice, and we often have one with us anyway. However, anything could work – small beads, bouncy balls, small rocks (assuming other kids aren’t nearby and it’s safe).
For a net, we usually use our foldable wagon, but your stroller, or even a circle drawn on the ground could also work.
Each time your child swings forward, they try to throw a “ball” into the “net.”
4. Don’t Bump Mama/Dada/Grandma/Etc.
This one is always hilarious, and doesn’t require any preparation or special materials, making it free to play.
Basically, I stand in front of the swing with my butt arched out and facing the swing, and make a big, comical deal of telling my child NOT to bump me.
She inevitably swings forward, bumps me with her foot or leg, and I massively over react to being bumped.
She finds it completely hilarious.
Definitely only do this in a bucket swing with little kids, so they don’t get knocked backwards off the swing.
5. & 6. Back, Forward, Diagonal, Wonky Donky & Get to The Finish Line
Most often, our daughter loves swinging back and forth, but once in a while we push her ever so slightly to the side, so she swings on a bit of a diagonal. Then you can also wiggle them a bit to get the “wonky donky.”
A fun variation on this is Get to the Finish Line, which requires a big kid sling style swing.
Basically, we draw a line in the ground with our foot or stick, and then gently swing her “wonky donky.” Her goal is to try to straighten herself out and start pumping her legs a bit so she can swing over the finish line.
7. & 8. Push and Power Boost
Toddlers love pushing and pulling things. When we take our wagon for a walk, our daughter most often wants to be the one pulling (or pushing) it. When we take our stroller out, she doesn’t want to sit in it – she want’s to be the “driver”.
When we have a big kid swing around, I will sit on it, and she stands behind me and pushes me. Often, when I swing back, the momentum bumps her a bit, and she dramatically falls on the ground, to much hilarity.
A variation on this has your child in a bucket swing. Instead of pushing them from behind, as you normally would, stand in front of them with your palms up and facing them. When they get to the front, they can use their feet against your palms as a “power boost” to push themselves backwards, and gain momentum without you pushing.
9. Dizzy Swings
This is a childhood classic, and it’s quite fun for toddlers in a bucket swing, because they’re pretty safely contained and don’t have to worry too much.
It works best with longer chains, but basically you have your child in the seat, and then spin them around a few times so the chain/rope gets twisted. Let go, and let your child spin quickly while they unwind!
A caveat on this: make sure your child’s hair and fingers are safe and contained, and don’t get caught up in the twisted chains.
10. Count to 10/20/etc.
Swinging is a fairly easy way to sneak some outdoor math into your day. For little ones, I use it as an opportunity to get them counting.
Make a target (i.e. a flat piece of cardboard) and hold it up in front of them. Every time they kick the target, have them count up to a set number, or see how high they can go.
11. Knock it Down
This one is often fun for bigger kids, and the tricky thing is getting the height right.
For younger kids, have your little one get onto a sling swing on their tummy and use their feet to get them moving back and forward. Place something that’s easy to tip over (i.e. a water bottle, a stack of empty boxes, etc.) behind them and within reach of their feet if they kick backwards. Tell them to knock it over when they’re swinging back.
Final Thoughts About Playing a Swing Game
While these games are all super fun for toddler and preschool aged kids, I personally think they’re a great way to keep us parents engaged when our kids are on the swing set, too.
I hope you enjoy them and are able to safely try them out on your swing soon!