Say the same thing

say-the-same-thingWhat it is: A cooperative talking game where players try to say the same word at the same time.

Best for: Two players. I’ve seen it done with three, which is more difficult but could be doable.

What you need: You don’t need anything to play, other than your brains.

How to play: This is a simple game that can provide hours of fun. It’s kind of addicting, almost, once you get started.

After I learned the game, I found out it’s from the band OK Go (you know, the ones with all the awesome music videos?). (This one isn’t really official, but I think it’s my favorite…except a lot of them are kind of my favorite.) OK Go actually has a video that explains the game really well, as well as an app that lets you play even when you’re not with friends. Go check them out! So though I know this post won’t be as entertaining as OK Go’s video, I’ll go ahead and explain how to play here, too.

You start by having two people each say a word at the same time. Any word. It will be a random pair, and that’s okay.

Let’s say Adam and Liz are playing. These are the two words they say:

  • Adam: See saw
  • Liz: Trip

To make sure they say their words at the same, one or both of them can snap their fingers three times. After the third snap, or on an optional fourth snap, they each say their word.

After that first round, Adam and Liz go again. But this time they’re going to try to say the same word. They do this by trying to find a word that connects the first two words, or something they have in common. You could also think of it as finding the intersection between the two words. So the second round might look like this, with the players’ thought process included:

  • Adam: Playground (because this is where you’d trip over a see saw)
  • Liz: Fall (because if you tripped over a see saw, you would fall)

Everyone thinks a little bit differently, so it might take a while for Adam and Elizabeth to finally say the right word.

  • Adam: Push (because if you fall at a playground, someone might have pushed you)
  • Liz: Merry-go-round (the most likely place to fall at a playground)

It’s good for them to take time between rounds to think and come up with the right word. Otherwise, if it’s just about speed, it could get difficult.

  • Adam: Exercise (because pushing a merry-go-round is essentially exercise)
  • Liz: Spin (because when you push a merry-go-round, it spins)

But it can be a little bit about speed. They don’t want to sit around waiting forever.

  • Adam: Treadmill (a form of exercising that involves spinning equipment)
  • Liz: Dancing (because this is a way you can spin and exercise at the same time)

Finally, though, they’ll end up on the same word.

  • Adam: OK Go! (because they have the best treadmill dance music video of all time)
  • Liz: OK Go! (because they have the best treadmill dance music video of all time)

It’s a very rewarding feeling.

This game could be over quickly, in three or even two rounds. Or it could drag on for a while. It’s fun to see the way someone else thinks, and to laugh (or get frustrated) when you think an opposite way. It can also lead to some funny moments, too. Once my husband and I were playing and, I can’t remember what the preceding pair was, but we said Luke Skywalker and Mark Hamill at the same time. (We weren’t sure if that should count as a win.) Another time my sister and I had the words love and brown to work with, and we both came up with chocolate.

I like this game because it’s cooperative instead of competitive. It’s a great time-killer and fun to play. So thank you, OK Go!

Build a cabin in your mind

cabinWhat it is: An imagining game where players talk out loud, describing a dream cabin or house.

Best for: A small group of players. It’s ideal for playing on long car rides.

What you need: Nothing. It’s just a talking game.

How to play: My husband introduced me to this game. He said he and his family played in on car rides often. (He’s the oldest of six boys, and they took a lot of road trips.) The game starts with everyone agreeing to build an imaginary cabin. Then each player takes a turn and adds a feature to the cabin. My husband said these usually included things like these:

  • Rooms full of bunk beds
  • Soda machines around the house
  • A movie theater in the basement with an all-you-can-eat popcorn machine
  • Observatories
  • Underground pools
  • Slides or firemen poles leading to lower levels
  • A big beautiful bay window right outside the dining area (This was the type of addition my mother-in-law would make, as opposed to the brothers, if you can’t guess.)

Kind of along the same lines as the dream homes my sisters and I would draw as kids. The features can include things inside the cabin, the structure of the cabin, and the surrounding landscape.

My husband did say that sometimes the game tended to break down, as arguments might erupt about placement or functionality of features (e.g., “You can’t put a giant trampoline that catapults into the lake! I already added the boat dock there!”). My husband said this often led to an alternate version of the game where, instead of everyone building onto one collective cabin, each person has their own. Players then still take turns adding on features, but this time to their own personal cabin. Maybe everyone can still be neighbors, at least. 😉

Variations: My sisters and I did a similar activity growing up where we would draw our dream houses. I think it’s kind of neat that when my husband was ten years old growing up in Colorado, describing the indoor slides his dream cabin would have, I was ten years old in Texas, decorating my dream house with indoor slides, too. :)

Chubby bunnies

chubby-bunniesWhat it is: A challenge game involving players stuffing as many marshmallows into their mouths as they can. (So it can get kind of gross.)

Best for: A group of teenagers around a campfire.

What you need: A bag of marshmallows (not the mini kind) and some people who are talked into doing somewhat foolish things like stuffing as many marshmallows into their mouths as they can.

How to play: Basically, players just take turns trying to complete the challenge of saying the phrase “chubby bunny” with as many marshmallows in their mouth as possible. So, if Valerie is starting, she would take one marshmallow, put it in her mouth, and say “chubby bunny.” If she successfully says it, she adds another marshmallow and says “chubby bunny” again, and on and on until she either can’t pronounce the phrase intelligibly anymore, she can’t stop laughing, or she gags and spits all the marshmallows out. (I told you, can get gross.) Players keep count of how many marshmallows she fit, and the player that night with the most marshmallows wins.

An alternate way to play is to have all players add a marshmallow at the same time, then go around the circle and say “chubby bunny,” one at a time. Anyone who can’t say the phrase is eliminated from the game, and the next round starts with everyone else putting in another marshmallow. The last player in the game wins. This way would be harder because you would have to wait for a longer time with a ton of marshmallows in your mouth.

To be honest, I was never a huge fan, but if you’ve got a bunch of teenagers on a camping trip who are in a silly sort of mood, I guess this game could get pretty funny.

But please take caution: any time you stuff a lot of food in your mouth, there’s danger of choking. So don’t do this unsupervised, use your common sense, and play safe.

Variations: If you like semi-gross games involving cramming as many sweets into your mouth as you can, you can try the Skittles game too.

Monkey in the middle

monkey-in-the-middleWhat it is: A throwing and catching game for a small group. Players try to keep the ball away from one player (the “monkey”).

Best for: A small group, maybe 3 to 5.

What you need: You’ll need a ball to throw and catch. It could be a kickball or an inflated ball. You could even play with a soccer ball that you kick and receive, or a frisbee or some other object.

How to play: Monkey in the middle is one of those simple games that’s easily variable. Players toss or kick a ball back and forth between them, but one extra player (the “monkey”) is left standing in the middle. The other players try to keep the ball away from the monkey. The monkey tries to grab the ball, earning him or her a place on the outside of the circle. :)

When the monkey grabs the ball, the last player to have touched it is now the monkey. You can decide on more specific rules, too. Does the monkey have to grab the ball, or will simply touching it count? You can adjust the rules and playing size to the ages of your players.

This is often one of those games that happens naturally to pass the time or (unfortunately) to bully someone else by keeping something they want away from them.

Don’t play like that. We all know it’s not nice.

But when played with people who agree by common consent to play, it can be a fun game that lasts for a while. :)

Speed Scrabble

What it is: A variant of the game Scrabble that’s much faster because it’s all about…

speed-scrabble

There is a commercial game called Bananagrams that’s essentially the same thing. I learned this game as Speed Scrabble first, and I’ve also heard it called Take Two.

Best for: A small group of people, maybe 4 to 6 players.

What you need: You’ll need letter tiles from a Scrabble game (but you won’t need the game board).

How to play: To set up your game, have everyone sit around a table or in a circle on the floor. Turn all of your Scrabble tiles face-down in the center of the circle and mix them all up. Then have each player pull out two tiles, keeping them face-down.

Someone starts the game by saying “go.” Then everyone turns over his or her pieces.

Each player will be building their own mini Scrabble grid in front of them. So when you turn over your pieces, start spelling with them as fast as you can. Once someone successfully uses all their tiles (and for this first round, that’s just two tiles), they shout “go.” Then everyone reaches forward and grabs another tile from the pile. Now you have three tiles, and you use all of them to build another Scrabble grid. Then, just like in the last round, whoever uses all three pieces together in one unbroken grid first calls “go,” and everyone takes another tile.

Each round you’ll get one more piece, making the grid larger and more complex. You can add the tiles you draw onto your existing grid, or, at any time, you can rearrange the whole thing. To call “go” you just need to use all of your tiles, and they all need to be connected in one unbroken grid.

This short video demonstrates part of a game and should make it a little clearer:

The goal is to use all your pieces, not leaving any out. The person who completes their whole Scrabble grid first when no more pieces are left wins. So it doesn’t matter if you’re ahead or behind for most of the game – all you need to do is be the first to finish and you win.

As for rules, blank tiles are wilds; you can use them for any letter. But it has to be the same letter for the whole Scrabble board, just like in real Scrabble. (But if you do decide to start over and change everything, you can switch the letter the wild stands for.) Players can challenge others’ words if they don’t think they’re real, and at the end the winner has to go through each of their words, proving that they didn’t cheat. It’s also often fun for everyone to say all their words out loud at the end, too.

Variations: Although I haven’t played with most of them, the Wikipedia page on Scrabble variants lists some other variations of Speed Scrabble that sound like they could be fun.

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