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April 10, 2013

Top Ten Family Games, Part 1

by Anne Paddock

Family activities are important ways to spend time together and although a family member or two may be reluctant to play a game that’s not on a screen, the attitude usually changes once the game gets underway, especially if television and the internet are not options  In our home and especially during the summer after dinner, we gather around a big circular table and often play one of the following games:

pMAT1-6592963regApples to Apples: A game about making comparisons between different things which can be hilarious when the game is played with members of  various generations because people, places, things, and events mean different things to each player  (or nothing at all to some as in “Who is Cary Grant?).

Easy to set up and quick to learn, Apples to Apples will have everyone in hysterics. The game is for 4 or more players and is for ages 12 and older (although there is a junior version for ages 9 and older and a kids version for 7 and older). Priced at about $20 and available at toy stores, Target, Walmart, and on-line at Amazon.

prod190063_H12Scrabble:  Whenever we visited my in-laws, my father-in-law was always happy to see us but was especially happy to see me because he knew I would take his place playing Scrabble with my mother-in-law every afternoon; a duty he gladly gave up for the duration of our stay. My mother-in-law was a wicked Scrabble player who knew all the 2-letter words so she usually beat me but I never tired of playing this game.

Scrabble is one of those games, we never outgrow and although the game is typically played with 2 players, up to 4 people can play. There are many versions of Scrabble but my favorite (pictured at right) is made by Restoration Hardware:  a large sturdy wooden vintage looking board that rotates around to accommodate each player as they try to formulate a word.

Available at toy stores, Target, Walmart, and on-line at Amazon, the standard version costs about $15. Super Scrabble costs about $25 and Scrabble Junior is about $10. Restoration Hardware sells the vintage edition for $199 and the Giant vintage edition for $279.

81S++8Dk0IL._SL1500_Jenga: Recently added to our game shelf, Jenga is a fun (but often tense – in a good way) and simple game for children and adults to play together. A classic wood stacking game where each player takes a turn carefully removing a block from the tower and adding it to the top without knocking the whole tower down. Whoever makes the tower fall, ends the game. It’s not unheard of to do a victory dance after a particularly grueling block removal or to feel like the roof is coming down when the tower falls.

Jenga sells for about $11 at BJ’s but is also available at toy stores, Target, Walmart, and on-line at Amazon.

Unknown-32Blokus: A game best played with four persons although there is a 2-person version also available, Blokus is a strategy board game that challenges spatial thinking. An award-winning game (Mensa, Teachers Choice),

Blokus is especially enjoyed by older kids (10 and above) who enjoy thinking in three ways: offensively, defensively, and as a team because the efficient use of space benefits every player.A fun and challenging game that takes about 30-45 minutes to play, Blokus is a family favorite. Available at toy stores, Target, Walmart, and on-line at Amazon for about $20.

Quiddler_box_front_onlyQuiddler: A card game in which each player arranges their entire hand of cards into words, Quiddler starts the first round with 3 cards, progresses to 4, and so on up to 10 cards. Each card has a letter and a small number indicating how many points the letter earns when used in a word. There are no limitations on the length of the word so both short and long words can be made.

Players draw and discard until someone has combined their entire hand into words using two or more cards per word. Once a player goes out, everyone else gets one last chance to draw and put down the words they have made. Points are tallied and the player with the most points after round 10 wins. A great game for up to 8 people. Quiddler comes with 118 cards and costs about $12. The game can be purchased  directly from the company – Set Game – or through Amazon, Target, or Walmart.

To be continued….

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