Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Favorite Family Games

January 9, 2007

Randy and I both grew up in game-playing families (although his was primarily a card-playing family), and we are determined to carry on this tradition with our own kids. We like all the traditional games: Life, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Candyland (must be played with real candy placed around the board), Hi-Ho Cherry-o, Clue, Scrabble, Cranium, RummiKub, etc. We are always on a quest for new games that at least 2 out of the 3 kids can play, depending on their ages. I also love games that add an educational flair to our school day. Here are some of our favorite finds:

Secret Square: This is a great game for ages 3-10 or so. It's sort of a 20 questions game, in which 25 picture pieces are laid out in a square. One player hides a token while the others try to find it by asking questions about the picture it's under. If the player asks, "Is it an animal?" and the other player says "No," all squares with animals are removed, and so on. This process continues until players have narrowed down the square that hides the token. The game is simple, yet calls for thoughtful questions to win quickly. Requires no reading. Unfortunately, this game isn't sold new anymore; however, you can buy it on eBay or other used sites. It's worth perusing the web to see if you can find it somewhere!

20 Questions for Kids: This is a game that all three of our kids (ages 6-13) can play, and I enjoy it, too. This is a basic 20 Questions in board game format, with 150 question cards. Each card has a person, place, or thing with 20 clues about the subject. Players take turns trying to figure out the clues ("I am a city in France" "I have a large tower in me"), and both the reader and the guesser advance based on how many questions are asked. Occasionally we'll get a card that the kids just don't know, so we just skip that one.

SomeBody: This is another game that works well for several ages. Each player (up to four players) gets a game-board body with re-usable stick-on body parts. You take turn reading questions from the 50 body part cards and 50 muscles and bones cards and place the appropriate body part on your chart if you get the answer right. This has really helped the kids (and me!) get a great visual of where are organs are located. Even the parts, which are like Colorforms, keep sticking on fairly well after many uses. My only complaint is that there aren't enough cards/questions. I suppose I could make some of my own...

Apples to Apples: This game is way too much fun, and you can play with a huge group of people of all ages, or just a few people. The object of the game is to be the player who has the word card that best defines a given word. Players are dealt five red apple cards and try to make the closest match possible to a word on the judge's green apple card. For example, you may have the following red apple cards in your hand: the Mall, Video Games, Getting a Haircut, Thanksgiving Day, and My Family. Your task is to convince the judge (who rotates) which of your cards (My Family, for example) best defines the green apple card, which may be, for example, the word Frightening. You must persuade the judge to pick your card over your competitors' (why is My Family more frightening than Mt. Everest?). Probably good for ages 7 and up, although a particularly verbal younger child could play. We have the Junior edition, which is great for all ages. The regular version has a lot of words (particularly people) that kids just wouldn't understand (Richard Nixon, Central Park, etc.).

Snapshots Across America: This is a great way to get a hands-on U.S. geography lesson while learning a little bit about each state. The object of the game is to travel to collect famous attraction cards while traveling across the U.S. by car, train, boat, or plane. This is another game that all the kids can play, although Duncan needs a little help and tends to quit before the game is over.

Sequence: Yet another game that everyone can play, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We play the adult version; I'm not sure what the benefit of the Junior version would be. The object of the game is to get a sequence of 5 chips on the board, matching a card in your hand to a space on the board. Lots of strategy involved and great to play as partners.

So those are a few of our favorites, besides the old stand-bys. We're always in the market for new games, so leave a comment if you have a favorite, and--in the spirit of Apples-to-Apples--convince me that we should try this for our family!

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