Great Games to Play as a Family
Games lubricate the body and the mind.
—Benjamin Franklin, inventor and statesman
Want to have fun as a family? Play a game! Whether it’s a video game, a board game, a card game, or a physical game, playing together can bring you closer together and open up communication in new ways. Consider these great game ideas.
Tips for . . .
- all parents
- Find games that encourage interaction rather than solitary play. For example, the video game Mario Kart is a multi-player game that keeps everyone engaged and laughing.
- Keep looking for new, fun games. Part of the trick with games is that they can become ho-hum after awhile. However, new games are being invented all the time. Every year, Parents’ Choice gives awards for the best games and toys. Learn more at www.parents-choice.org. Or visit the games section of Dr. Toy.
- Add new twists to old favorites. Once kids know a game well, make up new rules. For example, play Chutes and Ladders backwards. Go up the chutes and climb down the ladders—after all, don’t most kids like to get to the top of the playground via the slide, and not the ladder?
- Include your kids’ friends in playing games. Nothing is more fun than having a bunch of kids and adults playing together.
- Check out Great Group Games, Search Institute’s collection of fun games for groups.
- parents with children ages birth to 5
- Ask your child what he or she wants to play. Then follow your child’s lead. Don’t be surprised if your child asks you to be a “coat” or a “duck” or a “monster.” Play along with your child’s imagination.
- Play old-time favorite games, such as Candyland and Sorry, but don’t overlook newer games, such as Cranium Cariboo and Boggle Jr.
- Play online games with your young child. Fun, age-appropriate, interactive games can be found on the Fisher-Price website at www.fisher-price.com.
- parents with children ages 6 to 9
- As children begin to learn how to read, your game choices greatly expand. Play games such as Dish It Up! (a memory, math, and matching board game for 4- to 8-year-olds) and Rat-A-Tat Cat, a fast-paced card game for kids ages 8 and up.
- Teach your child simple card games, such as Go Fish, Pig, and Sevens. A helpful web site full of instructions for card games is www.pagat.com.
- Many kids at this age want to play video games. Play with them. If you don’t know how, ask them to teach you.
- parents with children ages 10 to 15
- Play fast-paced games that get kids thinking and keep them engaged. Explore Mexican Train, a double domino game, or Spoons, a fast-playing card game that you can play with a deck of cards and spoons from the kitchen.
- Although kids at this age tend to pull back from their parents, they still like to roughhouse a bit (as along as it doesn’t get too rough). Take a bunch of rubber bands and go outside and have a rubber band fight (from the waist down only). Or have a pillow fight. Or play splash games at the beach or pool.
- During the summer, water balloon fights are a perennial favorite for this age group. A safe, fun water balloon fight can be a great way to bring together neighborhood families with kids.
- Find other adults or families to invite over to play games with your family. Adding outside people often gets kids at this age more interested in playing games as a family.
- parents with children ages 16 to 18
- Challenge your older teens by playing old games in a new way. If your family is fluent in a second language, play Scrabble using only non-English words. Or play Scrabble by using only text message abbreviations, such as LOL (laugh out loud), NW (no way), or PIR (parents in room).
- Introduce your older teens to unusual games, such as Farkle, Scattergories, or DICEcapades.
- Make your home a hangout for your older teen and their friends to play games. Supply the snacks, and not only will you know where your kids are, but you’ll know what they’re doing.
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