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 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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 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 trasvel. Some of the rules we use are:
Feel free to make up your own rules.
- We take turns looking. The others are allowed to
hum loudly if they see the letter first, but otherwise
whoever's turn it is is on their own.
- For safety's sake,
the driver doesn't play, except on stretches of road
known to be particularly long and boring,
if the traffic was light.
- Except for J, Q,
and X, the letter must be the
first one in the word. Usually.
- Trucks sides, license plates, and the word EXIT don't count,
not even for X.
- The game was suspended during rest stops.
- A different person starts each time, so the
same person doesn't get J all the time.
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
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.