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Five Fantastic Ideas for a Family Games Night!

Added by Heather Idoni

Monday, April 30, 2012
Vol. 13 No. 9, April 30, 2012, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2012, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

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Guest Article
-- Family Game Night
Winning Website
-- TutPup.com
Helpful Tip
-- Connect the Thoughts
Reader Question
-- Canadian History
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information


Guest Article

Five Fantastic Ideas for a Family Games Night
  by Andrew Low


A family game night is an excellent way of promoting deeper relationships between all the members of your family, which is one of the main goals for most homeschooling families. It can produce life-long memories between parents and children of all ages, and even grandparents if they can join you regularly. Here are five top ideas for your next family games night.

Games should be chosen to include every family member, so that they are not too hard for younger children yet are complex enough to provide a challenge for older players. They should also be suitable for any number of players so that no one is excluded. These five family games fulfill these requirements.

Rummy is a thinking card game using a normal deck of cards without the jokers. Two or three players have ten cards each, four or five players receive seven cards each, six players each receive six cards. The rest of the cards are placed face down as a pick-up pile in the middle of the table, with the top card turned over and put face up beside the pile to start the discard pile. Players look at their cards to see if they can form any 'melds'. A meld can be three or more cards that either form a run of the same suit (for example; Ace, 2, 3, 4 of Hearts) or are of the same rank (for example; three Jacks). Note that in Rummy an Ace always counts as a "1" and is never higher than a King. Player One has the choice of picking up the top card from either the discard pile or the pick-up pile, before getting rid of any card by placing it face up on the discard pile. This means that he or she will end their turn with the same number of cards they started with. Players continue in a clockwise direction. The first player to form two or more melds of all the cards in their hand and discard their final card wins the game.

Table Story is a fun word game that requires no preparation or equipment. It has become one of my family's favourite word games. An adult or older child starts a story, which each player adds to as it proceeds around the table. For example, she may start the story by saying, "Michael and his family had been driving for a long time. He was bored. He looked out the window and was rather shocked to see ... " The next player completes the sentence and then continues the story for a few more sentences before the next player takes over and so on around the table. There may be many twists and turns in the story but it must always make sense. When everyone has had a few turns adding their part to the story the original story teller can end the story.

Mute Spelling is another word game that requires no preparation or equipment. Every player starts with their score on the letter "A". Player One is given a word to spell. The word should be fairly easy to spell, but the player can only say the consonants. Vowels are given by using the following symbols:

  • "A" - raise your right hand
  • "E" - raise your left hand
  • "I" - point to your eye
  • "O" - point to your open mouth
  • "U" - point to any other player.

As an example, when spelling the word "APPLE" they would raise their right hand, then say P-P-L before raising their left hand. A player who makes a mistake progresses from a score of "A" to "E", then "I", "O" and "U" for any other mistakes before they are out of the game.

Pig is an easy dice game for any number of players using only one die. Players take turns rolling the die and adding their scores for each roll. They can choose to stop at any time and keep their score for that round, but a roll of "1" wiped out the score for the round and ends their turn. Scores are added for each round, and the first player to get an overall score of fifty points or more wins the game. In my family, one son plays cautiously and stops when his score reaches ten points in any round, while another son tries to score the full fifty points every round.

Anti-Um is a spoken word game that can really help language and public speaking skills as well as being fun. A topic is chosen for the player, such as "Books" or "Painting". They then have thirty seconds to consider the topic before speaking about it for one minute or more. They must not pause or say "Um" (or any similar word) during their speech. Every player has a turn, with a different topic chosen to suit each player. It is quite hard when you first try, but after a few weeks practice it becomes easier.

Family games nights can include commercial games like Clue or Monopoly, but it is often more fun to use a simple deck of cards or a few dice. After all, homeschoolers recognize that it is the quality of the time spent together rather than the cost of the game that is most important. See our website if you would like more details on these or other family games.


Andrew, with his wife and seven homeschooled children, owns Family Games Treasurehouse which has rules for over two hundred family games. Visit Family Games Treasurehouse and sign up for our free newsletter to download our ebook, "25 Family Dice Games".


Your feedback is always welcome! Just send your email to heather(at)familyclassroom.net.


Winning Website


This is a site where children can compete in fun, educational games against other kids from all over the World! They have games with spelling, times tables and even algebra. No registration is required unless you want to save your scores -- and it is completely FREE! :-)


Helpful Tip

Curriculum to Encourage Independent Learning

"Recently I stumbled upon a curriculum called Connect the Thoughts.

It is a very comprehensive, in-depth study on a variety of subjects. It has a professional, detailed feel to it. One of the reasons I like it is that it encourages independent learning. The material is the 'teacher'. There are wonderful pre- requisite courses that hit on life skills as well: How to do Connect the Thoughts, Determining Right from Wrong (covers fact, falsehood, an opinion, etc.), and a course on How to do Research. There are versions for these for elementary and upper levels. We do Classical Conversations and we'll be using CTT for our history next year.

I have found that since my son has begun CTT that he is a better student and takes more ownership of his overall studies. It's still a work in progress, but I like what I've seen so far.

The writer is Jewish but has a very solid approach toward studies and what students should be learning. We're skipping the stuff about evolution and starting with the history of Egypt.

They have freebies on their website that might be worth checking out."

-- Paige, HSGifted Group


Do you have a tip to share with our readers?
Just send it to heather(at)familyclassroom.net!


Last Issue's Reader Question

Canadian History Suggestions?

"My family has recently moved from the US to Canada, and we are wanting to teach Canadian History to our upcoming 11th grader. Does anyone have suggestions for a good course and/or book of Canadian history? Thanks!" -- Sonya


Our Answers

"Donna Ward has a wonderful package to teach Canadian History, including a textbook called 'Canada, My Country' that she wrote herself. She has another textbook geared for slightly older children.

Her website is www.donnaward.net. (I had forgotten until now, but she also has a curriculum on Africa.)

CBC produced a wonderful DVD series that dramatizes Canadian History, but it is not for young children: A People's History.

Also, check out 'The Kids Book of...' series. The one on Canadian History is by Mantha/Hacker. They also have Canadian Exploration and Canadian Geography. I'm pretty sure this series is available on www.Amazon.ca.

Good luck!" -- Talena Winters, www.wintersdayin.ca


Editor's thoughts...

Sonya -- in additon to Talena's suggestions above, you could also supplement with an excellent series of older living books called 'Great Stories of Canada'. Here is a look at some of the front covers and a fairly complete list of the series:


I would have no problem using these for high school level history!

Although most are out-of-print and harder to find, they are very worth acquiring if you have a son or daughter who loves reading. It looks like a few might be back in print at Amazon -- you might have to look them up by title to find the best prices on each, though. If you get stuck, email me and I can give you a deal on some. I think I have a dozen or so (reasonably priced) at my bookstore in Michigan. :-)

-- Heather


New Reader's Question

Latecomer to Unschooling

"I just started reading up on the unschooling method even though I've homeschooled for years now. Can anyone offer advice on this method -- especially during the teen years? It sounds very interesting the more I hear about it. Thanks!" -- C.M.


Would you be willing to share some unschooling advice and/or personal experiences with C.M.?

Just send your email to heather(at)familyclassroom.net! :-)


Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question for our readers? Yours will be up NEXT! :-)

Send it to heather(at)familyclassroom.net and we'll answer it in an upcoming issue!


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