The Games We Played

Play­ing games with your kids is a great way to spend time inter­act­ing with and get­ting to know each other. Here’s a few games that were our favo­rites.
Hide the Rabbits
When she was about four, our oldest sur­prised us one day by ask­ing us to play Hide-and-Seek.  But we’re both full-sized adults, and nearly every cor­ner of our house already had some­thing in it, so for us, a game of Hide-and-Seek was out of the ques­tion.  On the spur of the moment then, we invented this game.
Ever since they were infants, our kids have been get­ting stuffed animals as gifts, especi­ally bunnies at Easter.  At that time, we had about eight stuffed rab­bits on hand.  We added more later.
So, here’s how the game goes:

Gather toget­her all the stuffed rab­bits (or whatever you have a lot of, bears maybe, or skunks) and count them, so you know which ones and how many you will be look­ing for.  Choose one per­son to be “it” first.

The rest of you go off into a part of the house where you can’t see what the per­son’s who’s “it” will be doing.  (We used the part of the kit­chen around the cor­ner from the door.)  The per­son who’s “it” then hides the rab­bits.  There are only two rules:

  1. Some part of the rab­bit has to be able to be seen with­out using one’s hands.  Hid­ing a rab­bit under some­thing is OK, as long as some part of it is still vis­i­ble.  This rule keeps the kids from tear­ing up the house while hunt­ing.
  2. No opening closed doors.  This keeps the kids out of your room, if the door’s closed.  I think we also closed the bath­room door, to keep things from get­ting damp.
Once the rab­bits are hidden, the per­son who is “it” comes back and tells the others the hunt is on, and then gets to watch while they hunt.  If there’s a great age or skill diff­er­ence between your child­ren, you may wish to impose limits on how many bun­nies each person can claim.

Once the rab­bits are all found, it’s the next per­son’s turn to hide the rab­bits.  Some­times it was nec­es­sary to use warmer-colder clues, or give cryp­tic hints to help things along.

That’s about it.  We devel­oped tra­di­tions, of course, such as count­ing out loud (no limit) while wait­ing, or taking a favo­rite stuffed dog along to “help hunt.”  If you try this at home, or have ques­tions, send me e-mail.

The Alphabet Game, played while travel­ing.
Once kids know their let­ters, this well-known game helps a lot on long car trips.  The rules vary from family to family, but the idea is the same: Find all the let­ters of the alpha­bet, one-by-one, in order, on signs and bill­boards you see as you travel.  Some of the rules we use are: Feel free to make up your own rules.

Commercial Games

Kids can play games like UNO long before they are in school.  I’ve heard of child­ren as young as three play­ing.  And inten­tion­ally not saying “UNO” because they’d rather keep on play­ing than win.
Games like Monopoly help a child learn how to take turns, be patient, accept dis­ap­point­ment, and count out change.  I won­der if that’s why both my daught­ers wound up in retail sales after grad­ua­tion...
Another game that kids and adults can play together is Milton-Brad­ly’s Con­nect-4 or one of the var­i­a­tions thereon.  There’s some­thing about the sim­pli­city of the game that makes a grown-up drop his guard, and the kid can often win fair-and-square.
Last updated 4/27/2020