Get the whole gang together for some regular family bonding time with these suggestions for great interactive games
Family game nights are a great way for families to get together for some uninterrupted fun. Game nights can be inexpensive and provide entertainment for the whole family. The great thing about game nights is that they can include the entire family.
Where to start
Lots of families lead busy lives and don’t get a chance to sit down and spend relaxed quality time together. Family game nights can do just that, while having fun too.
Family game nights can be scheduled weekly, biweekly or even monthly, although the more often the better. Remember it is always a good idea to turn off the TV during family game nights to help with distractions. To make the game night even more appealing, you can provide snacks. You can get your children to help come up with ideas for healthy snacks and even help with the preparation.
Benefits of playing together
There are so many learning opportunities that can come from a game. For example, lots of games use dice, which can be a great learning tool for a child learning to count, as well as for learning simple addition or subtraction. Also, lots of games use different coloured pieces, which can help a child learn to identify colours. For example, “I want to be the red car.”
Playing a game together also teaches children social skills. Children can learn simple skills such as waiting for their turn and how to express disappointment. When a child rolls a dice and lands on “miss a turn,” they will learn how to control and express their disappointment.
Most games have some competition to them, which is great at teaching good sportsmanship. It is easy to win and feel good about it, but it is also important to learn how to be a good loser as well. Games also challenge children and adults alike to think strategically, work together, follow directions, communicate and problem solve. These are all important skills that will benefit children’s learning and development.
Another benefit of having regular quality contact with your children is the ability to use these nights to get to know your child better. Learn about who their friends are, and some of the things happening at school or in their world that they may not share openly.
You might decide to invite your children’s friends over for a nice change to family game night, too. Any opportunity to bond with your children and open up communication is a good strategy as a parent.
Age appropriate games
When choosing a game to play with the whole family, make sure everyone will enjoy themselves. Remember if a game is too hard for the child, then it might discourage them. If a child wants to try a more difficult game, why not let them partner up with someone older so they can play together. Also many games can be adapted to be more difficult or easier, depending on who is playing.
Board games and card games are great, but don’t forget about interactive games that can help burn off that extra energy before bedtime. Some examples of interactive games are charades, Nintendo Wii sports and even creating an obstacle course in the living room or throughout the house.
Looking for new board games? Why not try a local thrift store or look out for them at garage sales. Family game night does not need to be expensive or even store bought. Lots of games can be made from items you have around your
When playing charades, all you need is scrap paper and something to write with. When planning an obstacle course, you can use kitchen chairs to climb under or have them hop 10 times. Remember to check your house for items before buying new things!
Game ideas for younger children
Candy Land: Age: 3+
This is a great game for young children with all the bright colours and simple directions. Each player is trying to win by racing to the end of the game. The game requires very little reading, and the rules are easy to learn.
Hungry Hippos: (interactive version) Age 2+
You will need:
• Balloons (You can also use socks, tennis balls or sponges)
• 2 laundry baskets (Any box or even hockey nets will work)
You will need one laundry basket for each team. The players will have a time limit to get as many of the balloons into their laundry basket as possible. The team with the most balloons in their basket wins.
Charades: Age 4+
One person will act something out, and their team must guess what they are trying to act out. Or set it up so that the whole family is guessing.
You will need:
• Idea cards or people can use their own ideas (If playing with younger children who can’t read yet, try having picture cards instead of words).
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