Five Fabulous Ideas For Your Next Family Games Night

A family games night can help create stronger bonds between all the members of your family, building deeper relationships between children of all ages, their parents and possibly their grand-parents. Here are five fabulous game ideas for a family games night.

Games should be chosen to include every family member, so that they are not too hard for younger children yet are complex enough to provide a challenge for older players. They should also be suitable for any number of players so that no one is excluded. These five family games fulfill these requirements.

Rummy uses a standard deck of cards (without the joker). For two or three players, they each receive ten cards while four or five players each receive seven cards, and six players have six cards each. The rest of the deck is placed face down in the middle of the table as a pick up pile. The top card is turned over and placed next to the pick up pile to start the discard pile. Players look at their cards. They try to form ‘melds’ to get rid of their cards. A meld can be three or more cards of either the same rank (for example; three Queens) or consecutive cards in the same suit (for example; Ace, 2, 3 and 4 of Clubs). In Rummy, the Ace counts as a ‘1’ and is never higher than a King. Player One has the choice of picking up the top card from either the pick up pile or the discard pile, before putting any card on top of the discard pile, so they end up with the same number of cards as they started with. Play continues around the table in a clockwise direction, each player picking up and discarding cards in an attempt to form melds. The winner is the first player to form melds of all their cards, with one card being discarded at the end of their turn.

Table Story is a simple word game that has become one of my family’s favourite games since it involves everyone and requires no preparation. An adult or older child begins to tell a story that each player then continues. For example, Player One starts by saying, “Bill was walking along the street when an umbrella landed at his feet. He looked around but could not see anyone. Where had the umbrella come from?” The next player then continues the story for a few sentences before the following player takes over, and so on around the table. The story may change dramatically, but it must continue to make sense. After a few rounds, the original story teller can end the story.

Mute Spelling is another word game that requires no preparation or equipment. Every player starts with their score on the letter “A”. Player One is given a word to spell. The word should be fairly easy to spell, but the player can only say the consonants. Vowels are given by using the following symbols:

“A” – raise your right hand
“E” – raise your left hand
“I” – point to your eye
“O” – point to your open mouth
“U” – point to any other player.

As an example, when spelling the word “APPLE” they would raise their right hand, then say P-P-L before raising their left hand. A player who makes a mistake progresses from a score of “A” to “E”, then “I”, “O” and “U” for any other mistakes before they are out of the game.

Pig is an easy dice game using just one die, with the aim of reaching fifty points. Players can throw the die as often as they wish during their turn and add their scores together. They can stop at any time and retain their score but if they throw a “1” their score drops back to zero for that round. Any scores from previous rounds are kept. The die is then passed to the next player who also attempts to reach fifty points in total. Some players are cautious and build their overall score slowly by stopping at (say) ten points in any round, while other players may choose to go for the entire fifty points in one turn.

Anti-Um is a word game that also helps build language skills and public speaking. A player is given a topic, such as “Birds” or the colour “Red”. They can think about the topic for thirty seconds before they must speak for one minute without stopping or saying “Um” (or any other similar term). Players take turns, with a suitable topic for each player. Younger children may have a shorter time limit. It is difficult to speak for a minute without “Um”-ing and “Ah”-ing when you first begin, but after a few weeks practice it becomes much easier.

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