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Turning Every Night Into Family Fun Night

Aug 17, 2007
We play Patty-cake with our babies, Ride-a-cockhorse with our toddlers, and Peek-a-boo with the little ones - then most of us stop playing games with our offspring until they are mature enough to challenge us to a game of bridge.

And that's our big mistake. We shouldn't miss a single chance for fun with our children because we don't have too long a time together. Oh, I know when Jim comes in with a black eye or bloody nose day after day you wonder, "Will he ever grow beyond this fighting stage?" But this troublesome noisy period between cuddly babyhood and interesting young adulthood only lasts about nine years - the grade school years. And if we don't enjoy these young pugilists and tumble tom girls right now we are losing a wonderful chance to establish pleasant relationships with them that stand us in good stead when they reach the supposedly difficult teens.

One time when we were talking about family games, one hardworking mother, hands on hips, snorted, "Humph! With all I have to do I should play games, yet!" She didn't realize that it doesn't take extra time to enjoy a few family games. These games really only take the time often used by brothers and sisters for bickering, or by parents with scolding and worrying.

For instance, at our house when the youngsters during lunch begin to argue, and whose don't, it's fun to say, "I'm going to Chicago. What shall I buy?" Immediately the game is on. The child to my right will respond with three things beginning with the first letter of the town I mentioned. In this case he might answer, "Cows, cats, and corn."

Then he says that he is going to St. Paul and his brother must name three purchases beginning with "S." The rules of this game say that these three items must be mentioned before the next player can count to ten, but for a game to be played during lunch or dinner, we eliminate the excitement of the speed tests and play the game without it. It provides much merriment and takes no more talking than more unpleasant subjects.

Another good game to be played during mealtime we call "Cities." Dad says, "I'm going to Austin." The next one at the table names a city beginning with the last letter of the town mentioned. In this case he could say "New York." That makes the next one search for a "K" like Keokuk or Kalamazoo or Kansas City.

"Cities" has always been a special favorite with our family. We've played it not only during lunch, but in the car when the children get restless, or while we're cleaning up the living room. You'd be surprised how much more willing boys and girls are to dust or wipe the dishes when there's a game on.

"Snap" is a jolly game that in-betweeners enjoy. Start the game off by pointing to one of the family circle, pronounce a word, then spell it, such as "Dog. D O G." Then immediately count to twelve - then say "Snap." Before you reach twelve the lad or lass to whom you have pointed must name three objects, the first beginning with D, the second with O, and the third with G. If he doesn't finish before you say "Snap," he is "IT" for next time. Words of more than three letters can be used after a little practice in the game.

These simple, inexpensive games bring the family together and turn every evening into Family Fun Night.
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