This classic indoor game is a great way for kids of all ages at home (and adults on Netflix, apparently) to use their imaginations, get the wiggles out, and have some fun.

By Christin Perry
July 23, 2020
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If you haven't seen Netflix's Floor Is Lava, there's a chance you haven't been living your best pandemic life. The popular new game show features teams who have to make their way through a challenging obstacle course without falling into the "lava" covering the floor. Thanks to the easy concept, people everywhere are making their own version of the game emulating the show, but spoiler alert: Kids have been playing Floor Is Lava for decades and parents are masters when it come to the most fun ways to play.

Want in? This simple game can be played by anyone, just about anywhere. It's a great way to infuse a dash of humor into your day. Here are different ways to play that'll suit just about any age group, from toddlers to teens. Add these to your arsenal of summer activities so you're prepared the next time you hear the B-word. (That's "bored" by the way.)

The Floor Is Lava Rules

The basic rules of the game are as follows:

  • Someone walks into a room and casually shouts, "Floor is lava!"
  • Everyone has 5 seconds to get both feet off the ground in any way possible.
  • At the end of 5 seconds, if someone still has any contact with the ground, they lose.
  • If everyone successfully gets off the ground, life simply resumes as normal... until the next time!

How to Play with Toddlers

The Floor is Lava show features adults performing daring feats that include jumping four to five feet from one thing to another. You'll have to scale that back a bit for your toddler, of course, but they can totally still get in on the fun. Simply set up a bunch of pillows or blankets on the floor, and let your littlest players jump from one to another. It's sure to be an afternoon of fun and giggles!

How to Play with Preschoolers

Help your budding learner with number or letter recognition when you try this fun variation: Instead of using pillows or obstacles to avoid the "lava," use a marker to draw letters or numbers onto large pieces of paper or felt. Spread them randomly on the floor, spaced a foot or two apart. Then, call out a letter (or a number), and challenge your little one to find it and jump to it. It's a great way to reinforce these important early concepts while having a ton of fun at the same time.

How to Play with Elementary Schoolers

Elementary-aged kids can make a game out of just about anything. Mix learning with fun when it's time to work on sight words or basic math skills by playing...you guessed it—Floor is Lava! Similar to the version above, all you need to do is write your child's sight or spelling words on pieces of paper and spread them out for a fun and challenging way to learn.

Math practice getting them down? Using the same method, you can help your kids learn simple skills like addition and subtraction, or more difficult operations like multiplication and division. Call out a problem, then have your kids jump to one of the spots that displays the correct answer. But don't get it wrong, otherwise they'll end up in hot lava!

How to Play with Older Kids

When it comes to finding engaging activities for older kids, you'll have to make it pretty rad in order to keep their attention for more than a few minutes. This age group may prefer a set-up closer to the game show; think items placed far apart, a rope for swinging, and possibly even ladders they can jump to and climb. If your kids are super into it, you could help them DIY their own course in your basement or backyard. Or encourage them to play Floor is Lava at a neighborhood playground if it's open.

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