Fun New Ways to Play in the Dark

By Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.

The dark can be scary at any age, but for families who use their imaginations, the night is made for adventure. All our senses are heightened and a whole new world of fun and games becomes available.

It's not only a good time to talk about what animals do when the sun goes down, but also the perfect chance to introduce the night sky to young children. Shed light on the unique opportunities for nighttime fun and learning by trying out some of the following activities with your child:


  • Indoor Routines

  • Senses Save the Night

  • Let's Get Physical

  • Imagine That

  • Baby, It's Dark Outside

  • Resources

    Indoor Routines

    Goodnight Room - Personalize a nighttime routine in which your child says good-night not only to the usual suspects - stuffed animals and toys and pets - but also to the light-switch, the dust very likely lurking in the carpet, and the misplaced puzzle pieces hiding under the bed. Or go through the alphabet saying nighty-night to something that begins with each letter: What's something that begins with an "A"? Artwork?

    An older child might get a kick out of a night-themed game at bedtime: Look around the room and make a one-sentence "night connection" to every possible item. For example: See a little racecar? Here's a possible night connection sentence: "The driver of a race car has to put her lights on as soon as it's dusk." Anything goes!

    Flashlight Hunt - When it's fully dark, hide a few items around the house, or limit the search to one room, depending on your child's age and powers of observation. Give your child a flashlight and then tell him what to hunt for: a particular stuffed animal, a basket of fruit, a picture dictionary …

    Solar System - As a family, act out the rhythms of the heavenly bodies. Each of you can take turns being the Sun, the Moon, the Earth and perhaps another planet or two or a distant star. Set the "Moon" child revolving around the "Earth" child, who is, in turn, revolving around the "Sun" child. Don't strive for too much accuracy with very young children, but older school-aged ones can really try to get it right.

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    Senses Save the Night

    Hide-a-Clock - Hide a ticking clock somewhere in the house and set your kids loose to locate it.

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