“The Spider Game” Lets You Exhaust Kids Without Leaving Your Seat

Why run around the house when you can simply throw a blanket at them instead?

by Alexis Barad-Cutler
Illustration of a parent and kid playing the spider game

‘The Spider Game’ is a parent-friendly take on the classic ‘cat and mouse’ chase. It’s one of the best activities for kids for parents who want to tire them out without breaking too much of a sweat themselves. Amazing, right?

We created the game one night when my son was reading a book about spiders. He was fascinated by how spiders wrap their prey in “silk” before sinking their fangs into them, and suggested that, instead of our usual game of hide-and-seek, we play “Spider.” I would be the spider, and he and his brother would be the bugs (or prey). They would run past me and try to escape being caught in my web, or the blanket I was going to throw at them. After confirming with them I was indeed expected to remain in the same spot, I wholeheartedly signed off despite mild reservations about playing a game where parents ‘eat’ their offspring right before bed. It’s the stuff of nightmares!

Prep Time: None

Entertainment Time: Up to 20 minutesEnergy Expended by Child: A lot

What You Need:

  • A smallish blanket, ideally the size of a crib or stroller blanket. You need to be able to both throw it and wrap it around a child’s body.

How to Play:

The player who is designated as the ‘Spider’ (usually the parent) finds a spot on the floor and holds the blanket like a toreador. Again, you will remain more or less on that spot for the duration of the game. (You’re welcome.) The other player (usually the child) plays the role of ‘Prey.’ The game begins with the Prey running around the house in a designated circle or predictable path. Every time the Prey passes you, you attempt to “catch” them with your “spider silk” by throwing the blanket at them. If the blanket touches a part of their body as they run by, they are considered “caught.” If it does not, retrieve the blanket and return to your web.

If your Prey is like mine, they will most likely become emboldened with each missed throw and will foolishly attempt to run closer and closer to the Spider. This, of course, will inevitably lead to your Prey’s imminent demise, as their close proximity will mean an easier target for you. Silly kids, so much to learn.

A round is “over” when the Prey is caught. Once touched by the blanket, the Prey must crumple into a little ball as you slowly crawl over and wrap them tightly in the blanket. Kids tend to like the snuggly feeling of being spun in the blanket. For extra silly fun, you can pretend to eat your prey, too. My boys love the idea, at least in the game, of being “nibbled” by a spider and they laugh while being devoured.

You can also make the game more challenging by changing the meaning of “caught.” Instead of the blanket merely touching any body part or the body, it has to land on the child’s head. Kids can also take turns being the spider too.

Wrap Up:

Indoor chase games aren’t ideal for grownups, especially when they frequently involve stubbed toes and banged up knees. A game where I can lie in wait and pounce is much kinder to my body. Not only that, but kids love playing because it combines the thrill and anticipation of avoiding getting caught with the desire of actually wanting to get caught ⏤ since that means my arms around them, a soft blanket over their shoulders, and a big snuggle. For kids who enjoy both physical play and touch, the Spider Game is a wide web of fun.