FUN IDEAS FOR FAMILY GAMES TO PLAY TOGETHER
Like millions of other people around the world, my family has been playing and loving Wordle over the last few months. I started doing it on my own, curiosity sparked by all those yellow and green grids in my social media feeds. Then my husband joined in, and now we play the once-a-day game as a family, usually when we’re all in the kitchen after dinner. As people once sat around a piano, we now crowd together around my laptop and throw five-letter words at each other. It’s a fun exercise in words and letters for the children – they have no disadvantage in suggesting the starting word, and the older ones relish in making it as weird as they can. We then work together on the later words, and nearly always manage to get it right between us.
The fact there’s only one Wordle a day is part of the joy of playing it, but I’ve loved spending that little bit of time together as a family and wanted to try and make it last longer. I did find a Wordle ‘copy’ game online where you can play as many rounds as you like, but it felt like cheating; neither good, nor satisfying. Some further searching, of both soul and internet, has thrown up a couple of options, and in case you’re in the market for something similar, I’ve shared them below.
We sometimes use the alphabet letters on the fridge to help spell out options for our Wordle games. It helps to see which letters you’ve eliminated and rearrange the order of those which are left. So, it seemed like a fun idea to add something else to our word-y fridge, and I remembered fridge poetry from my student days.
I bought this basic set and mixed it up with this excellent geek version. We use them both to create mini stories together (the stranger the better), and separately to leave silly phrases or messages for everyone else to see at other times of day.
As a family, we don’t have any games consoles (yet), but I’ve always loved playing online games, from Minesweeper and Solitaire, to Tetris and my all-time favourite, Space Invaders. I set out to find a few new options or variations of these a few weeks ago, and hit a mini goldmine in plays.org . It’s browser-based, so works on our tablet and laptops, and is free with no ads and nothing to download, which I really like. As well as introducing the kids to a few of my childhood favourites, we’ve also been exploring a ton of new-to-us games. My favourite so far is the Snoring Pirates Elephant Game, which is every bit as bonkers as it sounds. Rolling pigs? Sure. Spinning penguins? Of course. Bouncing zebras? Yep. But, while inherently silly, it’s also challenging enough to keep all of us – including one adult with a PhD – on our toes.
The site has a whole range of branded games, including Scooby Doo, Star Wars, Sponge Bob and LEGO, but there’s also plenty of more traditional stuff if, like me, you prefer a bit of balance.
My top tip is to make good use of the ‘Random’ button at the top of the screen to help you discover and try out games you might otherwise not have considered. I can easily get stuck playing the same few favourites over and over again, so it’s a useful way of mixing things up. Our family favourites tend to be games which are silly and short, or have multiple levels, and get everyone shouting at the screen! These can be different speeds – fast and frantic, or slower and more tense, but with similar outcomes.
If you want a few tips, these are our (current) family favourites:
When I was around 8 or 9, I went to a friend’s birthday party. Somewhere between the cake and the dancing, her dad taught us how to play Yahtzee. As a quiet and ferociously competitive kid, I’d never enjoyed a party more, and probably not since. Nerd life, eh? But, Yahtzee is the kind of game that’s easy for children to learn from that age, while still being challenging enough for adults to enjoy. The fact it involves an element of chance – the rolling of dice – means kiddos have a decent chance of winning even if you’re not deliberately letting them. There’s skill involved, but luck also plays a part, which helps to balance things out.
I vividly remember playing this game with my grandma when I was tiny, and I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love it. It’s also another option which is free to play and – double bonus – portable. We’ve always tended to play it with the children when we’re travelling, so they’ve enjoyed doing it at home over the last few weeks, thanks to those holiday memories and a sense of novelty value. We’ve also been experimenting with a picture version, where you draw the head, neck, torso, legs and feet on each section of paper instead of writing words. It’s quicker and easier for younger children to join in with, and quite a bit sillier.
Technically, we haven’t tried this one out yet, as i only ordered the table yesterday, but it’s another game I enjoyed as a kid. Despite none of us being interested in real football, we loved a family game of foosball. It was one of the rare games I played with my sister where either one of us could win, despite the age gap, but we liked it most when our parents joined in. Sometimes, the two of us would team up against my dad, but often my mum would play too, and we’d go parent/child vs parent/child for the most ferocious of all foos-battles. Watching our kind, fair-minded and non-competitive mum shouting ‘foul’ or whooping when she scored a goal was as hilarious to us as Dad’s victory dances, always more heartfelt when it was mum he was beating instead of two kiddos. Those memories are the reason I bought a table for our family, and if I can create even half as much fun as I had playing as a kid, it’ll be worth every penny and foos-bruised knuckle.
I hope there’s something here you might try out with your own family or – no judgements – play on your own while waiting for the kettle to boil or standing in a supermarket queue. Anyone for Tetris?