Invent a Game – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Invent a Game

Create a new game using old sports equipment! In this group activity, children develop creativity and decision-making skills through improvisational game play.

Materials Required

  • A range of sports equipment (hula-hoops, balls, cones, ropes, etc.)
  • A large area to create and play a game


  1. Gather various pieces of sports equipment and find an area that has enough room to make up and practice a game.
  2. In a group, work together to make up a game using the sports equipment available. Questions to consider: What is the goal of the game? How can you use each item in the game? Is it played in teams? Is it played for speed, highest score, accuracy or something else?
  3. Establish boundaries, rules, turns, equipment use, and any other specific information for the game.
  4. Choose a name for the game and play!

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Take away or add a piece of new equipment to slightly change the game. How does this small change affect the game?
  • Create multiple games using the same equipment.
  • Write down each game created and make a Book of Games.

Links to Creativity

At first glance this activity might seem difficult, or maybe too demanding for younger children. However, constraints and limitations, along with improvisational game play is a frequent occurrence for most children, and frankly, adults too. Placing limitations on only using the sports equipment around the house can force children to re-think how those materials are commonly used, see them from another perspective, and re-use them in original ways. Because the original instructions for the equipment are basically thrown out the window, children practice improvisation on how they are used, and later, what rules the new game follows.

Supporting research includes:

Sawyer, R. K. (2001). Creating conversations: Improvisation in Everyday Discourse. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Stokes, P. D. (2005). Creativity from constraints: The psychology of breakthrough. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Stokes, P. D. (2007). Using constraints to generate and sustain novelty. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 1(2), 107-113.


This activity was contributed by Playworks. For more information and resources please visit ©Playworks.

Invent a Game

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