14 November 2021 by Calan

This post is part of a series based on research into the toys, games, activities and gifts for children. We asked 1,515 British mums to complete a questionnaire, and for this question we were looking to identify their favourite games and activities at different ages.

Over time we are going to expand this research, adding to the level of detail. If you’d like to take part in future and receive a copy of the results, please subscribe to our blog using the form on this page and we’ll include you in the next questionnaire.

Download the full spreadsheet

While the results appear in this series of posts, what is really interesting is to see the lists horizontally side by side, as it shows how the popularity of particular games and activities changes as a child gets older. You can download a copy of the full spreadsheet by subscribing to our blog using the form on this page.

Child favourites are good for development

As you'll read in the next post on the games and activities that have had the biggest impact on child development, reading books and singing are highly regarded, and they also top the lists of favourite activities for young children.

If you think of a baby as starting life with a completely blank slate, it makes sense that they favour the activities that help them develop and learn the fastest. My youngest has just passed her first birthday and loves unpacking pots and taking everything out the fridge.


Peekaboo features very high in babies under 2 years old. According to Wikipedia, Peekaboo demonstrates an infant's inability to understand object permanence, an important stage of cognitive development for infants that is typically achieved at eight to nine months of age. For a young baby, revealing your face after hiding behind a pillow seems like magic, until they're old enough to understand that your face hadn't actually disappeared.

Hide-and-seek, crafts and puzzles

Hide-and-seek is another favourite with kids up to 6 years old, as is playing in the park and various crafts. Puzzles feature very high on the lists and are also mentioned a lot in activities that support child development. Imaginative role play is the most popular with 3-5 year olds.

Children’s favourite games and activities

Within each age-group heading I’ve indicated the number of children that participated in the questionnaire, and within each list I’ve highlighted the total number of times the game/activity appears in the list.

6-12 months (66 children)

Toy Total
Knocking down towers 11
Opening and closing doors 11
Climbing 10
Peekaboo 9
Rough play (being thrown, tickling, bouncing) 9
Bath time 7
Reading books 7
Clapping 6
Hide-and-seek 5
Looking in the mirror 4

12-18 months (84 children)

Toy Total
Singing and dancing 47
Peekaboo 25
Reading books 21
Chasing/running 12
Building blocks 11
Hide-and-seek 9
Opening and closing doors 9
Opening kitchen cupboards 8

18-24 months (108 children)

Toy Total
Singing and dancing 24
Reading books 18
Building blocks 15
Peekaboo 15
Playing in the park/garden 12
Shape sorters 12
Chasing/running 9
Destroying towers 9
Puzzles 9
Climbing 9
Ride on toys 9
Swimming 9
Hide-and-seek 6
Stacking cups 6

24-30 months (135 children)

Toy Total
Singing and dancing 63
Hide-and-seek 24
Art and crafts 22
Building structures 21
TV nursery rhymes 21
Playing in the park/garden 20
Reading books 18
Puzzles 18

30-36 months (141 children)

Toy Total
Playing in the park/garden 54
Singing and dancing 51
Hide-and-seek 30
Building structures 27
Arts and crafts 18
Reading books 18
Puzzles 18
Kicking balls 15
Trampolining 12

3-4 years (234 children)

Toy Total
Imaginative role play 63
Art and crafts 54
Playing in the park/garden 54
Reading books 42
Building structures 36
Hide-and-seek 33
Singing and dancing 33
Puzzles 30
Biking 21
Swimming 18
Scooting 15
Alphabet games 12
Football 12
Climbing 9
Dressing up 9

4-5 years (198 children)

Toy Total
Arts and crafts 84
Imaginative role play 66
Building structures 51
Playing in the park/garden 48
Board games 30
Puzzles 24
Hide-and-seek 21
Reading 18
Swimming 15

5-6 years (135 children)

Toy Total
Building structures 51
Arts and crafts 37
Board games 36
Imaginative role play 33
Hide-and-seek 18
Puzzles 18
Football 17
iPad games 10
Gymnastics 9
Trampolining 9

6-7 years (123 children)

Toy Total
Arts and crafts 63
Building structures 54
Board games 24
Football 24
Imaginative role play 21
Swimming 12

7-8 years (90 children)

Toy Total
Board games 24
Biking 24
Building structures 21
Imaginative role play 21
Arts and crafts 15
Football 15
Gymnastics 12

8-10 years (114 children)

Toy Total
Building structures 42
Football 36
Singing and dancing 21
Arts and crafts 16
Board games 15
Trampolining 15
Xbox 15
Reading 13
Swimming 12

10-13 years (87 children)

While this age group was included in the study, the results were limited due to a lot of parents not completing this question. We've therefore chosen to leave it out but may include it once we have more data.

Share this research with other mums

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