Even though my daughter is still just a baby, these variations on "Hide and Seek" have been favorites with my former students, nieces/nephews, and other various kids that needed something to do.
Variation 1: Kid Collecting Hide and Seek- Two kids act as the seekers and everyone else hides. The person who finds the most kids wins that round. Rotate two new "seekers" in for each game and have a "Seek-Off" for the winners of the rounds.
Variation 2: Object Hide and Seek- This is similar to a treasure hunt, but so much easier to do... Just find a bunch of objects, 2 or 3 for preschoolers, 5 objects for five and six year-olds, and 10 objects for anyone older. Either use separate items for each kid, or use different rooms for each child so no one has their stuff "found" by someone else. They hide their eyes, while you hide the objects. They can even hide them for each other and then you can stay out of it! (Or let them hide things for you, if you want to get more involved!) Start hiding things in easy places and then make it more difficult as they learn your tricks and you can see how well they do at finding things. If they are struggling, just use the "hot-cold" game to help them get closer. Some favorite objects to hide? Try matchbox cars, "Litt.le Peo.ple", crayons, hair bows, leg.os... just don't hide anything that you don't want to lose for awhile!
Variation 3: "I Can't Share" Hide and Seek- If kids are having trouble sharing a toy, find a few other toys that also cause sharing difficulties (which shouldn't be too hard) and hide one for each kid. Put them all in one room so you can monitor. Once they find one, they sit down with it and that's what they get to play with for 5 or 10 minutes, then switch. Often they forget all about fighting over the toy, but would rather play variation 2... see above.
Variation 4: "On Our Way Out the Door" Hide and Seek- This is great if a friend is supposed to pick you up at 10 am to go to the zoo and they call to say they are 10 minutes late. Rather than letting the kids get involved in something that they don't want to finish (or might be hard to clean up), hide things that you planned to take with you in your front room (so you can watch for your ride), like sunscreen, juice boxes, snacks, shoes (if they are slip-ons), etc. The kids can find them a few times while you wait. Just count the objects carefully so you don't leave home without anything!
Variation 5: Circuit Hide and Seek- Write activities on different pieces of paper and kids have to run around in a circuit and find the items and perform the tasks. They can be physical tasks, like "do 10 jumping jacks", "spin 5 times", "do 15 sit-ups" these can be a great way to burn off extra energy. Or you can use mental feats, like "say the alphabet backwards out loud", "sing any song you know that has the word 'dog' in it", "solve these math problems aloud- 10 divided by 2 is... 6 times 3 is..." Each child can run around alone, or in a group if younger children, who can't read yet, are involved. Make sure they know how many "tasks" are in the circuit so they complete them all, and then you can hide them in different locations. Kids actually like doing jumping jacks more than once, if it's in a different place!
Variation 6: Team Hide and Seek- Have kids get into two equal teams (rotate kids as "timer" if there is an uneven number) and try to make the teams as fair by ages, skill level, etc as possible. If there are less than 10 kids per team, 1 is the seeker, the rest hide; for 10 to 20 per team, 3 kids are the seekers, the rest hide. The challenge is to find and bring back everyone from the other team first. You can play it multiple times for best out of 3, or best out of 5, or best out of 51! If you want a longer game, the "found" kids must go to a central meeting point immediately and have kids call out "we found Sally" to make sure they come straight back. For a shorter and very crazy game, the "found" kids can join the seekers! You can also use more time by having them pick team names and cheers, etc. This also gives them a chance to really spend a few minutes with the kids on their team, so they make sure they remember who they are supposed to find. The hardest part... being quiet and letting your own team members go back into hiding if you accidentally find them. It's fun to watch them discover that they can "send spies" to watch the other team and see if they find their own team members that they can then seek. You can discourage this by sending each team to hide in only one section of the house or hard and the other team to another section, with no crossing over. If they can't remember who is on their team and each team isn't hiding in separate rooms, you can use two different colored stickers or arm bands to make sure they know who to find.
And of course, don't forget regular Hide and Seek and "Ghosts In the Graveyard", which is Hide and Seek in the dark. We used to play this at night outside when I was a kid, but these days who knows if that's safe anymore, so play inside with the lights mostly off, (have night-lights, etc. for safety and lights on in stairwells). Enjoy!
Want some REALLY great ideas? Visit the host of Works-For-Me-Wednesdays at Rocks In My Dryer.