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. :)

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. :)

Presidents’ Day games

Presidents-Day-gamePresidents’ Day is coming up! I wanted to post a Presidents’ Day game this year so I did some research into the holiday, and it was a lot more complicated than I thought! Wikipedia has the full story if you’re interested, but basically it’s not really standardized who exactly we celebrate on Presidents’ Day. The holiday is officially George Washington’s birthday (even though the holiday never falls on his actual birthday…). Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is also in February so he is often celebrated on Presidents’ Day, too, but it is sometimes used as a day to celebrate all American presidents in general. The name varies from state to state. I had no idea! Did you? How does your state celebrate Presidents’ Day?

Well, before I did all that research, I made a version of Who am I? for Presidents’ Day (you can head over to that post for instructions). The Presidents’ Day version has cards with names of American presidents on them and, I admit, would be pretty dang challenging for most people. I’d probably be awful at it. But if you’re a U.S. History class or if you and your friends are history buffs, you’d probably be great at it!

Printable-markerPresidents’ Day “Who Am I?” game

But after doing my research on Wikipedia, I felt bad for not keeping with the roots of the holiday and celebrating George Washington (and Abraham Lincoln) in particular. So I made another game, a matching game.

Presidents Day Game

At a recent birthday dinner for two of my friends, a third friend put this game together. She made a list of  little-known facts about each birthday girl and read them all out loud in no particular order. We all had to write down which friend we thought the fact was about. It was a lot of fun when we played that way, all sitting around the table at our restaurant and laughing as we got to know the birthday girls in new ways.

This Presidents’ Day version may not produce as many giggles, but it’ll definitely keep you thinking! I don’t think it will be easy. (It definitely wouldn’t be for me!) To play, print out the printable. Read the facts out loud to your group. An answer sheet is included for players to write their answers on. There’s also a key so you can read the correct answers at the end of the game. The player with the most right answers wins! I think this would be a great game to play in school as you’re learning about the presidents of the United States, especially Washington and Lincoln. There are 32 facts, 16 about each president. If some of them are too hard or if there are too many for your age group, just leave some off and have students make their own answer sheet.

Printable-markerPresidents’ Day game: Name that president

To complete your Presidents’ Day celebrations, don’t forget to check out my Presidents’ Day pictionary list.

Happy Presidents’ Day and happy playing!

Who am I?

who-am-iWhat it is: A talking and guessing game for a large group of people. You’re assigned a character or person and you have to ask questions to other players until you figure out who you are.

Best for: A medium to large group of people, maybe 10 to 20.

What you need: You’ll need names of characters or people written on cards. These can be themed, like all Star Wars names or all Disney princesses. The broader the theme, the more difficult it will be. You can make your own cards (3×5 cards work great) or I provide some free printable cards at the bottom of the post.

How to play: Before you start, tape a different card on each player’s forehead with masking tape. Do it carefully so they can’t see the name. Once all of the players have a card taped to their forehead, announce the start of the game.

Players are free to mingle throughout the room, talking to each other and trying to figure out which character they have taped on their forehead. They’re allowed to ask yes or no questions, but that’s all. Once they guess correctly, they can remove the card and go stand to the side until everyone guesses their card. (Or they can continue to mingle, answering others’ questions to help them guess.)

Encourage players to move around and mingle and talk to more than one person. It can be a good way to get a variety of clues, and it makes the game more of an icebreaker. Also, sometimes some players may not be familiar with all of the names on the cards, so you might have to talk to multiple people to get enough clues to guess who you are.

If you want an example, let’s say you’re playing in a group where everyone has a Disney character taped to their forehead. Here are some of the questions you might ask and the answers you might receive:

Am I a hero? Yes…

Am I American? Not applicable.

Not applicable? Well, you speak Standard American English, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re American (especially in animated movies, right?).

Am I a person? Yes.

Am I from the past or the future? Present…maybe sort of past?

Am I a boy? Yes.

Am I CGI or animated? CGI.

Am I Woody? No.

Buzz Lightyear? No.

Am I the main character? Yes.

Do I have super powers? Um…no, I would say no.

Am I a grown man? Yes.

Do I play sports? No.

Do I save a girl? Yes.

Do I have a co-star? Yes, several.

Do I have a sidekick? Not really.

Do I sing any songs? No.

Thank heavens.

I’m good, right? At heart…

Am I not good on the surface? You could say that.

Do I have a love interest? No.

Um…give me a hint. Maybe you’re bad guy…but that does not mean you are bad guy

Have you guessed it by now? (Side note: it’s one of my favorite Disney movies.) Leave a comment if you have!

Printables: I made a couple printables to get you started if you want to play this game. There’s a list of female and male Disney characters. (I broke it out by gender in case you have an all-girls sleepover party or something, or if you want to match gender to players.) I only used animated Disney movies, I included Pixar, and, though I didn’t include every movie or every character, there are definitely some obscure ones in there. Each card has the name of the character as well as the movie to make identifying the character easier. If there are some that you think are too difficult or that your group won’t be familiar with, just leave them out.

There are six cards to each 8.5×11 page. Just print and cut along the dotted lines. I would recommend printing on cardstock. Or, you could cut out the cards and mount them on 3×5 notecards.

Printable-markerFemale Disney Character Cards

Printable-markerMale Disney Character Cards

If you play, let me know how it goes! Or let me know if you have any requests of character lists you would like to use. Happy playing!

Feather

feather

What it is: A really simple game kids can play in a car. It’s not so much a game as an…activity to pass the time? Or a way to tease/persecute the person sitting in the middle of the backseat.

Best for: Three or four children, however many are sitting in the backseat of a car.

What you need: A car with a backseat and a road to drive on. The road also needs curves – sharp turns on residential streets are best. Highway driving, not so much.

How to play: In this game, players basically use the momentum of the car to squish each other.

It’s simple. When the car makes a left turn, everyone in the backseat leans as hard as they can to the right. When the car makes a right turn, everyone leans as hard as they can to the left. In theory I guess the passengers are just responding to the natural forces of momentum, but it’s more about exaggerating and slamming into each other as hard as you can.

This game is the least fun for the person in the middle. The people on the edges get smashed against the windows, true. But half the time they get to be the ones doing the smashing. That poor middle-seater? They just get smashed and smushed each and every turn the car makes. Same applies to the smallest person playing. I was younger and smaller than my cousins who taught me how to play. Guess who was smushed the most? Luckily, I’m the oldest of my siblings, so when it came time to teach my younger sisters how to play, I experienced sweet recompense.

The thing is, even when you’re getting squished, it’s kind of a fun game. And luckily the game never lasts longer than a car ride, so if you’re in the middle, the next time you get in, you can hustle for a window seat.

Good luck, and I hope you don’t get squished too bad.