The Floor is Lava

I play a lot of games with my kids and this one has proven to be a family classic. It’s called the Floor is Lava. The basic premise to this game is what the title suggests. The floor is bubbling hot lava and the kids need to get off the floor before the lava consumes them. You’ll see them jump on beds, hugging trees, or even balancing on a the worlds smallest book. When I play this game with my kids I like to treat it like a classic Nintendo game where the first level or the introduction is always very easy. It lets them understand the rules.

Once everyone understands how to play I bump it up to the medium level. Here, I add the challenge of rescuing their stuffed animal without touching the lava. Naturally there is always that kid that pushes the boundaries and invents things that can go on the lava thus giving a safe platform to stand on, so make sure to thoroughly explain what is lava and what is not and what can be moved, and what is stuck to the ground. Once they navigate the medium level, they advance to the Legendary level.

This is where things really get fun because I can use my dad creativity to make things challenging. Here you can invent obstacles, put crucial pieces necessary to rescue their objects in a seemingly easy area, but let them figure out how that crucial piece will help them get to where they need to go without touching the lava. Also I like to add a destination or end point. Once they rescue their objects, they need to go to the front steps or back to the beginning, or put them into a bucket. Something to make the game come to an end. Once it’s over you can redo the course with new creative challenges.

This game ticks off so many boxes because kids work on team work, physical exercise, gross motor skills, and risk and reward concepts. My wife is a school psychologist and she loves this game because of its social /emotional benefits around growth mindset, perseverance, and problem solving.  

This game can be played inside or outside in any kind of weather. And the best part is that the limits are your imagination. You can play this game at the playground, in a gymnasium using the lines on the court as the lava free safe zones, or even in the mall…. just be prepared to have the security guard reprimand you if things get a little too intense because your youngest son decided to climb the fake tree. 

A few pro tips to make the game fun

  • Limit the rules!
  • If you have a super competitive kid, preface the game by saying its impossible and no one has ever finished it. that way if they find it hard, they won’t melt down, but if they do it, it will motivate them to play more. 
  • Start easy, then work your way to hard. Progression is the key to success.
  • My kids like it when I give the levels names. Like easy stays easy because it’s not worthy of a title. Medium is called challenging, hard is called hero maker, super hard is called legendary, impossible gets them a statue. 
  • If its one of those days… and any parent knows exactly what I’m talking about, you can use this game as way to earn something like an extra book at bed time, time to listen to an audiobook or to help you prepare dessert.
  • Have your child or children, or partner in crime create a course for you to do
  • And record it! Because sometimes you catch some gems. 

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