Hit the dirt

What it is: A night game, one you play outside when it’s dark in a big park and you have lots of energy to use up. For big groups.

Best for: A big group of at least 10 players.

What you need: Somewhere to play. A big park is perfect. You want somewhere fairly open, but you’ll also need landmarks (like trees or something). And the more people you have to play, the better.

How to play: First, set up your playing area. Choose an area of the park to be the home base (this can just be a spot of ground, or a tree or something). Then you’ll need to choose several landmarks around home base, maybe about three to seven, depending on the size of your playing area and desired difficulty of your game. These can be trees, playground equipment, etc. They should all be visible from the home base area, which should be in the middle of the play area.

Then choose someone to be It (say it’s Johnny). Johnny stands on home base and everyone else scatters and hides around home base, but not too far; you can set up boundaries for the game at the beginning. Players really shouldn’t need to stray beyond any of the landmarks. And they should also stay close enough to hear Johnny shout.

The point of the game (for everyone but Johnny) is to make it to each of the landmarks and finally to home base without being spotted by Johnny. The point of the game for Johnny is to spot everyone else.

Here’s how it works: Once everyone is situated and hiding around the playing area, Johnny shouts out a number, any number, like “Fifteen!” Johnny should be sure to shout loud enough so everyone can hear him. Then Johnny starts counting out loud up to that number, also loud enough for people to hear. And while Johnny counts, he closes his eyes.

When Johnny closes his eyes, that’s everyone’s chance to move. All the players get up from their hiding spots and book it to their next destination (maybe the closest landmark, or maybe another hiding point somewhere along the way, if the next landmark is far).

When Johnny reaches the number he said he would count to, he immediately opens his eyes, so that’s everyone else’s cue to hide lickety split. (If you’re close to a hiding spot, reach it; if you’re not, hit the dirt and freeze and hope Johnny doesn’t spot you.)

When Johnny opens his eyes, he can look all around the playing area, trying to spot players. If he does see someone, he shouts out to them (he doesn’t have to identify them by name) and they’re out of the game. For example, he might say, “I see someone hiding behind the tall pine tree!” The person behind the tall pine tree (you know who you are) would be eliminated.

(For those of you who don’t like games where players are eliminated, you could modify the rule to say that any player spotted has to go back to home base and start their quest to touch each landmark over, but can remain in the game. This will make it impossible for Johnny to “win,” though.)

Once Johnny is done spotting, he shouts another number and counts again. Johnny will want to choose a good mix and balance of high and low numbers to call out. If he picks a number too low, like three, maybe none of the players will be daring enough to move at all. That won’t do Johnny any good. But if he throws out a bigger number, like thirty, the players might get really daring and aim for something far – giving Johnny the advantage if the players miscalculate the distance to their next hiding spot. It might take some tries to figure out the ideal range of numbers for your playing area.

The whole time, Johnny never leaves the home base. All the other players try to strategically and sneakily make their way to each landmark and finally to home base. They have to touch each landmark on the way, and make it all the way to home base (basically right next to Johnny) before he sees them. The first person to successfully accomplish this wins. Then the winner gets to be it (or maybe choose someone else to be it, if that’s more of a reward for you and your friends).

If Johnny happens to eliminate all players before anyone can touch home base, he wins.

Variations: I’ve also heard this same game called “commando.” And I guess it’s kind of a (more intense) variation of hide and seek.

What if?

What it is: A silly group game that’s played indoors. There aren’t really winners or losers; it’s more a game of being creative/funny and laughing at everyone’s responses. It works well with teens or adults.

Best for: A group of about 10.

What you need: You’ll need paper and pens for everyone to write with. The paper doesn’t need to be big; in fact, index cards would be perfect.

How to play: To start, pass around pens and cards to everyone in the circle. This is a great, easy game for groups because you don’t need a certain number of players and no one has to sit out; everyone can play right away. Once everyone has a card and pen, tell everyone to write a question that begins with “What if…” at the top of the card. For example, “What if people had platypuses for pets instead of dogs?”

These questions can be as serious or as silly as you want them to be. In our games, they usually end up both ridiculously silly and about people in the room, like “What if Joe wore only corduroy clothing all the time?” At any rate, don’t be afraid to let your creativity show!

Then collect all of the cards, shuffle them up, and deal them back out to everyone randomly. If someone gets their own card by chance, you can let them switch for another one.

Once everyone has a card with a question that they didn’t write, tell everyone to then write an answer to the question, starting with the word “Then…” Again, these can be as silly or as serious as you want. If you got the question “What if we all had platypuses for pets instead of dogs?” you might write: “Then we’d all have to live next to rivers and streams.” Or you might write “Then Lassie would have turned out a whole lot differently.” The point of the game is to be kind of silly, so don’t be afraid to. 🙂 Also don’t worry if you think you’re not terribly witty (as I always do in games like this), because it really won’t matter in the end. You’ll still be funny even if you’re not witty. I love games like that.

Then for the last part of the game, everyone goes around the circle and reads their cards, but here’s the catch: you’ll answer each question with a mis-matched answer. So here’s how it works. Say Mike’s playing and he was holding the platypus question. He’d read the question out loud: “What if we all had platypuses for pets instead of dogs?” But then the person to the right of Mike, we’ll call her Kim, would read her answer for her question, which might be: “Then the world would be a much better place.” Then Kim would read the question on the card she’s holding, “What if there were a Chick-fil-A on every corner?” and the next person in the circle would respond with their answer to their question. You’d go all around the circle until you got back to Mike’s answer: “Then Lassie would have turned out a whole lot differently.”

Usually hearing a question with the wrong answer is pretty funny, either because it makes absolutely no sense or it’s surprisingly true. 🙂 So as you go around the circle, you’ll all probably laugh and joke (especially if  some of the questions are about people in the room) and claim the questions. A lot of silliness, but a lot of fun, too. Then if you like it, play another round!

Variations: This game reminds me a lot of paper telephone, probably because both games invariably tend to be about people in the room in ridiculous situations. So silly. But so fun.

Springtime pictionary word list

Happy spring! I love springtime so much. Winter is great, but personally, after Christmas is over I’m just looking forward to when everything will be green again. And the wonderful season of spring is finally here.

If you’re looking to play pictionary or charades to celebrate this beautiful season, maybe just in time for Easter, hopefully this printable word list of springtime-related words below will help you out. Just click the link and print! These words have also been added to the word generator if you want to use the word list online without printing.

Happy spring and happy playing!

Printable-markerSpringtime pictionary list