Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #12: Let's Play a Game

Today's theme at Homeschool Memoirs is all about family games. I just happen to already have a post called Favorite Family Games, which I'll repost here:

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, Mancala, Mastermind 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 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.

Set: This is a game of visual perception, which is challenging for us because we are more words than picture people around here. Each card contains one of three symbols in varying numbers, colors , and types of shading. The dealer arranges 12 cards and the players, at the same time, scan the images for logical "sets" of three cards. This one has to be played carefully because younger kids can get frustrated easily. I really love this game and think it's fantastic for logic, but I prefer to play it one-on-one with a child. For some reason, this brings out the not-so-pretty-competitive side of my kids!

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!

See Memoir #11 here: Field Trips
See Memoir #10 here: 10 Timely Facts
(I opted out of Memoir #9)
See Memoir #8 here: Study Spot
See Memoir #7 here: Snacks
See Memoir #6 here: Summer Photo Essay
See Memoir #5 here: My Favorite Things
See Memoir #4 here: Something New
See Memoir #3 here: Routines
See Memoir #2 here: Agendas
See Memoir #1 here: All About Me


  1. I love Scrabble, Uno, Life, & many others that you mentioned. I've heard great things about Blokus, which my kids will receive for Christmas along with Triominos & Apples to Apples Jr.

  2. Oh, I forgot about 20 questions!! That was my all time favorite bus ride game. We lived way out in the country and had to ride 35 minutes to school every morning. 20 questions was a lifesaver!!

    I love to play set by myself, it is so challenging!

    My daughter is getting Apples to Apples for Christmas from Grandma.

  3. What a great list! We're familiar with most of those games, though not the ones you listed with pictures. We also love Can't Stop, which is super for fast adding and the kids love it. We played Star Wars Monopoly and even BANCO---Monopoly in Spanish, set in Costa Rica. And don't forget Risk! And LOTR Risk (can you tell I have mostly boys?) LOL

  4. You listed some new games I've never heard of. I'll have to check those out. The Apples to Apples game sounds really neat. My boys love Set as well. Great sharing.

  5. We love Apples to Apples. Set is a good one, too.

  6. Great List! You've given me a lot to think about! The game, Snapshots Across America sounds like it's right up my family's alley! I've heard of Set, and wasn't sure about it. I think I will give it a try!

  7. I have't play ANY of these games. Wow! I'm definitely going to try some of these. I think we're ready to try a few new things. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Great games! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I remember playing SomeBody with my boys when they were younger. It was a good one. Thanks for the reminder about Set...I am going to have to dig that one out. My daughter is old enough to play that one. Also, I am going to have to look into that Apples to Apples game. I have seen it everywhere!!


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