With shorter days there’s one foolproof way to keep the fun going after dark: flashlight games. Turn the longest night of the year (or any night) into a memorable evening with these twists on old classics and a few new inventions, too. Read on to light up your night.

photo: iStock

In-the-Dark Treasure Hunt

They’ve got the treasure hunt down pat. Now throw them for a loop with one staged in the dark. Simple items like pirate’s booty (gold coins) or even figurines will do the trick. For older kiddos, consider making a list of the items being hunted. Be sure to have enough flashlights for everyone involved; it’s a lot more fun when each participant has their own beam.

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photo: istock

Flashlight Tag

Hiding in the dark and being spotted by beams of light can be fairly thrilling — just be sure to clear the way for kiddos running around in the dark. You'll need either an outdoor space that isn't well lit or an empty-ish basement or gym. Get all the rules for variations over at wikihow.

Make Your Own Constellations

Create your very own universe at home with DIY constellations. The crafty masters at Handmade Charlotte dabble in the dark and offer an easy tutorial with materials you’ve probably got in the crafts box already, including black paper, scissors and a pencil.

Shadow Puppet Theater

Take shadow-making fun to a whole new level with puppet theater. With a cardboard box, foam figures and a flashlight an entire fairy tale adventure comes to life. Mama Valerie, blogger at Inner Child Fun, explains the easy steps in creating this awesome activity

Morse Code Messages

Morse code is kinda like the original form of texting (SOS, anyone?) so kids will get a kick out of learning how to flash-chat with buddies. Create little messages and get familiar with the flashlight for easy code clicking. Daddy Mark of My Kids Adventures provides a full Morse Code Alphabet and even offers up other tutorials (like using your iPhone as the light.) Get all the info here.

Flashlight Word Game

Play this game and they’ll be working on their reading skills, too. Find the biggest, most empty wall in your house and sprinkle the space with word cards. There are several variations of play, including having Mom call out a word and finding it, or flashing light on a word and reading it. Be sure to use painters tape to stick up the words, otherwise you’ll lose some paint in the process! Head over to Kiwi Crate for more ideas.

Shadow Dancing

Turn a dance party into major flashlight fun with some shadow dancing. Shine a light against a wall, put on a groovy playlist and get moving! It’s fun to watch shadows boogie or even try to make different shapes. Gabrielle Blair breaks down one of her favorite before-bed activities over at Design Mom.

Flashlight Limbo

You don’t need a sandy beach, broom stick or even the classic Limbo song to re-create this game. It’s a classic camp activity that’s perfect for a sleepover. Just flash the beam of light on the wall and have everyone wiggle their way under it. The only real question is: How low can you go? Get the details over at Ultimate Camp Resource.

I Spy

Do they really know what’s in that room? Try out I Spy in the dark for a chance to spot familiar toys and gadgets. Toni Tui, mama in charge over at Wifely Steps, loves to play this game before bed but we’re betting this would be a blast at any time of night.

— Gabby Cullen

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