Sometimes it takes a little more effort and creativity to plan fun activities as a family during the winter months. On the weekends, I find that it is exceptionally easy to turn on a movie or a video game or for everyone to split up and find their own activities. I encourage and set aside time for us to do family activities so we can spend quality time together.
I put together a list of some of our favorite games. Family game night is one of our favorite indoor activities. This, of course, can be any time of day, but it’s exciting at night when everyone can settle down in their pajamas, make popcorn, and open the game closet.
We like to choose game stations, different areas of the room to set up various games, and we either split up or move around the stations as a family. We like to keep score if we split into teams so that we can keep track and switch teams on various days. Some of our favorite games include:
1. Battleship: This game is fun to set up and strategize with your partner. It is fun for kids to make teams with mom or dad and then switch partners.
2. Sorry!: This is also a relatively simple game to learn and can be played with 2-4 players. The game can be reasonably quick or last a while. The only problem is the frustration when your player gets sent home, but I like to use this as a learning tool about patience and good sportsmanship. Sometimes that can be quite a challenge! But it is another good way for us to sit down together and play a fun game.
3. Pictionary Junior: My daughters love to draw. I am not so good. But that is part of what makes it enjoyable. We all end up laughing at some point during this game, and that’s really what it’s all about.
4. Balderdash: This game is really set up for older children and adults (there is a Junior version, but the recommended age is still 8-11 years). It is fun to hear all of the possible word definitions that everyone comes up with. The game also ends up with a lot of laughs.
5. Boggle Junior: Word searches are fun, challenging, and a great brain exercise for the family.
6. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?: This game is challenging and takes patience. It’s a crime-solving and mystery game, so for older children, it can be a great game.
7. Zingo Bingo and Zingo Sight Words: Zingo Bingo and Zingo Sight Words are great games for early reading exercises and fun at the same time. The classic Bingo game is yet another simple but fun game to get involved with a small or large group.
8. Uno, Skip-Bo, classic card games: Uno is a family-friendly game for children of a wide range of ages and can be done with a large group if you’re having a larger gathering. Skip-Bo is a new card game we learned over the holidays, and all the cousins joined in for fun. As a family, we like to play a wide range of card games, including Crazy Eights and Go Fish.
9. Race to the Treasure! (cooperative game): Any game that encourages cooperation between family, especially siblings, is a winner in my book! Players work together to find the hidden treasure before the mean ogre gets there first.
10. Labyrinth Junior: This game is best for players age eight and older (as recommended in the rules). This is another treasure hunting game but more complicated than Race to the Treasure and involves mazes and more strategy.
11. Twister: If you’re up for a more physical game with lots of laughs, this game is excellent.
12. Apples to Apples: Another great card game that is simple to learn and can be played with 4 to 10 players so great for a party with family and friends.
13. Monopoly Junior: If you have a lot of time and patience, this game is fun and a great learning tool for negotiating, math, and strategy. It is a simpler version of the classic Monopoly game.
14. Connect 4: Another fun game of strategy trying to block your opponent and make four in a row.
15. Make 7: This a bit more complicated than Connect 4 and requires more math skills. A great beginner math game.
16. Guess Who: A fun mystery game using the process of elimination to guess your opponent’s mystery person.
17. Scrabble: Scrabble is one of the most challenging games on this list but a great mental exercise using a strategy to make words and place letters for maximum points. Younger kids can play on teams with older kids or adults.
18. Clue: A fun mystery game to solve a crime by eliminating suspects.
19. Life: Great for teaching kids about real-life choices and careers in a simple game format. The action cards are fun and create surprises along the journey.
20. Jenga: test your stacking skills and don’t let the tower fall; a great hands-on and suspenseful game for the family to enjoy together.
Of course, there are many others, but the above list is some of our favorites. I find that if I allow the kids to choose at least some of the games and keep score, they are more involved and engaged with the activities. It’s also fun to invite other families over…the more the merrier! And you can extend the stations to accommodate everyone.
If you have younger children, there are fun games to include them (briefly!) before the night or afternoon of fun begins. I have a three-year-old and Monkey Around and Acorn Soup are a couple of age-appropriate games for toddlers to join in the family fun.
There are lots of laughs, sometimes there are tears, but there are always hugs and great family memories. What are your favorite family games?