Tag Archives: games

Read it, Write it, Draw it, Pass it!

Critics of homeschooling will often mention that, because the student is learning at home, he’s missing out on socialization with his peers. Such a critic has never met my teenage son John. A ninth grader, he has invitations to get-togethers and parties almost every week, sometimes two in the same day!

For many of these parties, invites are sent out with a note stating to bring along a favorite group game. And each time, I suggest he shows his friends how to play Telephone Pictionary. We first played it with family during the Thanksgiving holidays, and it was a hit with both kids and adults.

*Note: This game is not suited for young children, as players need to be able to read and write sentences.

To Prepare:

Cut or tear plain white paper into small rectangles, approx. 2 inches wide by 3 inches long. Provide each player with a stack of these rectangles. Each player should have as many “rectangles” as there are people playing the game. For example, if seven people are playing the game, give each player seven rectangles of paper.

Provide a pen for each player.

To Play:

1. Each player will write a sentence on the top sheet of his stack of papers. The sentence can be long or short; it can be a quote or a proverb; it can be simple or complex.

When each player is finished, all players pass that sheet of paper to the person on their left.

2. All players read the sentence, then place the paper on the bottom of their stack. On the next rectangular sheet of paper, players draw what the sentence says. They draw it in pen, so there’s no erasing. They can use stick figures, but they can’t use letters or words. The goal is to “show” the sentence the best you can.

When each player is finished, all players pass the stack to the person on the left, leaving the drawing on top.

3. Now it’s time to interpret the drawing! Players will look at the drawing passed to them, decide what it depicts, and write a new sentence on the next rectangular piece of paper. This new sentence will say what the player thinks the drawing shows.

Players then place the picture on the bottom of the stack, leave the new sentence on the top, and pass the whole stack to the person on the left.

4. Time to draw again! After reading the sentence, players will tuck it on the bottom of the stack, then draw what they read. When everyone is finished, the stacks (with the pictures on top) are passed again to the left.

Play continues in this manner until the stacks have gone all the way around the whole table. Depending on whether you have an odd or an even number of people playing, the turn may end when you receive your original stack or the stack the person on your left started with.

Now it’s time to reveal the papers! Players take turns reading the sentences and showing drawings in a stack in the order in which they were created. Most likely, the first sentence and the last are not quite the same!

We have had a lot fun with this game — the pictures and sentences become so strange and so funny as they go around the table. John still hasn’t shared this one with his friends at the parties, but I hope he does soon. It’s makes for a great time for everyone!

I Spy Eagle Eye Game

My youngest loves looking for objects hidden in books, such as the I Spy books by Scholastic. Whenever we visit our library’s bookmobile, he heads straight for the section that holds the “finding books.” So when I found an I SPY game on sale at the store, I couldn’t resist.

Overall, it turned out to be a good game, especially for younger children. To begin, each player is given a playing card made out of very sturdy cardboard with a picture featuring a couple hundred objects, such as marbles, blocks, buttons, toy cars, letters, beads, balls, or tiny figures. Each side of the game board has a different picture, and there are four game boards, making eight pictures in all. The rest of the game consists a bell and thirty double-sided playing cards with eight pictures on each.

Players all play the game at the same time. Each player draws a card from the stack and looks at the eight images on the card, then tries to figure out which ONE object is a match with an object on his game board. The first player to find his particular match rings the bell. So, not only does the player have to find an object first, but he also has to figure out just which object he needs to find.

Sounds difficult, doesn’t it? It was at first, even for me; my six-year-old was finding his objects before I could find mine. It was a good game for our family to play together — everyone seemed to have an equal chance at winning, no matter how young or old they were.

Interestingly, though, the game became easier and easier the more we played. The first few times through, we studied the game boards very closely; after a while, when we drew new playing cards, it was easy to recognize which object we needed to find and easy to find it. So, we switched the game boards around, but again, after several rounds of play, it became too easy, especially for the older children. My youngest became frustrated that he could never win, and the older ones were tired of hearing him fuss about it.

Right now the game is back on our game shelf, but I’m sure we’ll pull it out again. We’ll just have to wait until we’ve forgotten where all the objects are hidden.

Learning With Boggle

During our family camping trip, my mom brought along a Boggle game, one of my favorite games but one I hadn’t played in years. Though no one played it during the trip, it made its way to my house afterward, and my son John got it out. I told him briefly how to play, and he tried it out with his cousins who were visiting. They really enjoyed it.

Boggle is made up of 16 dice that have letters instead of dots. The dice fit into a container that can be shaken, and the letters then fall in a random order. The object of the game is to make as many words (three letters or more) from the dice, using only those letters that touch each other in some way, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Players have three minutes to find as many words as they can. Points are earned only when a player finds a word that no other player has found.

After most of our company had left, John asked me if I would like to play — he didn’t know I used to be pretty good at the game. My mom played too, and she is more knowledgeable about words than I am, having worked crossword puzzles for years. He was in for some tough competition.

Although I still sometimes let my six-year-old win a game, we didn’t let John (13 years old) win — he had to work for every point he got. Then Cassie joined in (11 years old), and naturally, she found even fewer words. While I wasn’t sure what their reactions would be to such a challenge, I was pleasantly surprised.

Round after round, Cassie came up with no points — someone else had found every word she did. Yet still she continued to play. It wasn’t until we had played about 15 rounds over two days that she finally got some points.

John, being older, did get more points, but he never scored as high as my mom or me. But he too, continued to try.

On the last day my mom was here, my daughter Lillie, age 9, joined the game. She found even fewer words, but she kept at it, too.

These past few days of playing Boggle have turned out to be great opportunities for learning. It was good to watch as the children learned:

*New words, as my mom came up with some old English terms and words none of us had ever heard of.

*Definitions, as we questioned her words and had to look them up

*How to correctly spell certain words

*Persistence, as all three of the kids kept at the game, even though they never won a round

*Sportsmanship, as they continued to play with good attitudes

Boggle has become a favorite game for our family. Perhaps it’s even time to break out Big Boggle.  🙂


At a Doe River Gorge, a Christian campground in Elizabethton, Tennessee, my family was introduced to the game Octoball. An easy game to learn, it’s been a hit with all of my children, and it’s a game they can all play together.

Octoball is an outdoor game played in an octagonal “ring” made of eight boards, each one 12′ x 8′ x 2″. New wood from the lumber store can be expensive, but older pieces can be used. Once the ring is set up, all you need is a volleyball, and you’re ready to play.

The object of the game is similar to that of dodgeball — avoid getting hit by the ball. The last person standing in the ring is declared the winner.

To play, one person starts the play by throwing the ball and hitting it on the side of the ring.  Then players try to hit each other with the ball. If a player hits the ball and it touches another player below the knee, then that player is out; if it hits above the knee, the player is still in the game.

Additional rules include:

  • No player may hit the ball twice in succession unless the ball hits the wall in between hits.
  • If a player hits the ball and it goes out of the ring without touching the wall, that player is out.
  • If a player hits the ball and it touches the wall and then goes out of the ring, that player is still in the game.

While older kids can usually hit the ball with more force and better direction, the younger ones can run and jump quickly out of the way. The last two left in the ring often differ a great deal in age, making it a fun game for everyone!

Telephone Charades

TelephoneMy niece introduced us to a fun party game last week that’s works well if you have a group of people who want to play. It’s a combination of telephone – the game where you whisper something to someone, and then they whisper it to someone else, until it goes all the way down the line – and charades, where you act out a word or phrase.

We divided up into two teams, boys vs. girls, with about 5 or 6 people on a team. Team members line up one behind the other. The first team member is given the word or phrase to act out. The second team member watches the first, trying to guess what the word is. All other team members face away from the first person so they can’t see what’s going on.

When Player #2 thinks he knows what Player #1 is doing, he turns and taps Player #3 on the shoulder. Player #3 turns around, Player #1 sits down, and Player #2 begins to act it out for Player #3. When Player #3 thinks he knows the answer, he taps on the shoulder of Player #4. Player #4 turns around, Player #2 sits down, and Player #3 begins to act it out. The game continues down the line in this manner until the last player is tapped; he watches the previous player, then says out loud what he thinks the word is.

It was so much fun – and so funny!  We watched as the other team turned “plunging a toilet” into “riding a horse.” Our team turned “a melting snowman” into “building an igloo.” The best part is, all ages could play; we had “actors” from age five on up. And since we didn’t keep score, there was no pressure at all.

So if you’re looking for something to do at your next party – give telephone charades a try. My guess is you’ll be laughing long before anyone gets it right.