I Spy dinner games with kids

I spy with my little eye something the colour of… 

I Spy, or Eye Spy, ticks all the boxes of a great dinner game. Why?

  • It adapts to any age group from toddlers to grandparents and yes, that includes smarty-pants tweens and untalkative teens too
  • It’s a turn taking game so you can keep eating while you’re guessing or responding
  • There’s no time limit, but you can set one if you want to keep things moving (like, five guesses and then give up)
  • It’s a learning game for younger children who can progress from identifying colours to choosing initial letters – see my notes below about partnering an older helper if needed
  • It’s a learning game for everyone because Eye Spy makes you look at ordinary objects in a different way and it gives you new insights into the way people in your family view the things around you.
  • It’s fun and you will get a laugh out of any game, even if it’s a groaning chuckle because you missed something incredibly obvious in hindsight!

And so it begins: I spy with my little eye something the colour of, OR, something beginning with… says one player, and everyone else must try to guess what it is.

The colour option is great for a mixed age group as many toddlers or preschoolers will know colours before letters. As children move into reading, playing Eye Spy with letters can be more fun and challenging. For example, the letter C could mean ch for chocolate , a soft c as in ceiling, or a hard c for cauliflower.

When someone guesses correctly, it’s their turn to be the Spy.

As a family, work out what rules you think are fair. You might ban all hints and limit the number of guesses, or you might say the object must be something everyone at the table can easily see.

You might also encourage hints to keep the game changing turns more often: is it light blue or dark blue? Is it on the table or somewhere else in the room?


If you’re playing with preschoolers or new readers it’s a good idea to pair them with someone who can whisper with them to check their objects.

Younger kids sometimes get muddled in the fun of the game and having an older sibling or adult who skips a guessing turn to be on their side  and consult in whispers might prevent howls of outrage later when it turns out the young one said their thing was the colour purple but really meant green!