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:

  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 trasvel.  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.