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!

License plate search

license-plateWhat it is: A road trip game, one of those seek-and-find games that gives you something to do on long car trips.

Best for: A long car trip across state borders, for however many players you want (even one).

What you need: A list of all 50 states, or a piece of paper or some way to write the states you find down. I have a free printable below.

How to play: The game is pretty simple: as you’re on your road trip, look out the window at the cars you see. Find the state name on each license plate, and try to spot a license plate from every state. You can cross states off of a list you already have, write them down, or just keep a list in your memory. You can play competitively, with each person in the car playing against everyone else. The player with the most states crossed off at the end of the trip wins. You could create teams. Or you could play cooperatively as a whole car or bus together.

It’s a pretty ambitious goal, I’ll admit. (My list includes Alaska and Hawaii, so I think you really might have to do some traveling to cross every state off.) I think it would be cool to save this list for multiple car trips, especially if you have several coming up. At the start of the summer, for example, you could print off the list and plan to take it on every car trip you take that year. You could even do it over a lifetime. See how long it takes you to cross off every state!

Printables: Here’s a printable I made that lists each of the 50 U.S. states. You can use it when you’re playing the license plate search game to cross off the states you find.

License Plates

Airport scavenger hunt

airplaneWhat it is: A good way to pass the time when you’re flying somewhere. Look for items on a list and cross them off when you see them.

Best for: One to 5 players.

What you need: A list of things to find in an airport! You could make your own, or I have some free printable ones below. Also a pen.

How to play: It’s easy! When you’re sitting in an airport waiting for your plane, or waiting in an extra long security line, or stuck somewhere with a longer-than-expected layover, pass the time by doing a little scavenger hunting. Make or obtain a list of common things you might see in an airport (the items could be as easy as an airplane or a person with a hat, for younger players; or much harder, like the Southwest Shamu plane). When you’re in the airport, keep your list and a pen handy and cross things off as you see them. First player to cross off all the items (or the player to cross off the most) wins!

Rules and Variations: This is a very adaptable game. It’s a great one-player or two-player game, and you can play competitively or cooperatively. You could even stretch out one game over a whole trip or multiple trips. If you want to play competitively, you probably want to set up some specific rules (when to start looking, when to stop looking, whether photographs of things count, etc.).

Printables: We’re flying this Thanksgiving for my sister’s wedding. (Incidentally, the airplane illustration above is in her wedding colors – I guess I have her color scheme on my brain after some fun clothes shopping for me, my husband, and our two kids.) In preparation, I made these scavenger hunts and I want to share them with you! Feel free to download and use. There are two lists: the first one is pretty easy, and the second one is harder. Just print, cut, and use whichever fits your needs! If you do use them, I’d love to hear any feedback on how they work. Happy flying!

Airport Scavenger Hunt

Airport Scavenger Hunt

I Spy Bingo: Halloween version

scarecrowWhat it is: I Spy Bingo is a version of classic bingo. In classic bingo, everyone has a 5 x 5 grid of randomly placed numbers. Someone reads off a number at random, and players look for the number on their playing card and mark it off if they find it. Players try to get 5 marked-off squares in a row. First person to get 5 in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) shouts out “Bingo!” and wins. In I Spy Bingo, instead of listening for numbers called out loud, you’re watching for things you might see in real life.

Best for: 1 to 6 players.

What you need: Everyone will need a game card. You can make your own or use my free printable ones! (see end of post). Everyone will also need a pen or something else to use to mark off squares (like candy, especially M&Ms, which are our favorites). You also need somewhere specific to play: in this case, a Halloween costume party, or the day at school when everyone comes dressed up, or trick-or-treating night…basically anywhere you can see lots of people in Halloween costumes.

How to play: Halloween costume I Spy Bingo is pretty simple. Everyone gets a 5 x 5 grid of squares. In each square, write a costume you think you might see someone wearing this Halloween. (My free printable cards already have costumes written out.) Once you’re at your party or school day or wherever you’re going to play, just keep a lookout at all of the cool Halloween costumes going by and cross off any costume you see on your card. First player to get 5 in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) shouts “BOO!” (instead of “bingo”) and wins!

You can also play the blackout version – where you have to cross off all your squares, not just 5 in a row, to win. Other than that, you can set up your own rules however you’d like! Here are some suggestions.

On the printable cards I made below, some of the costumes might overlap (e.g., fairy and Disney character; if you saw someone dressed as Tinkerbell, that could count for both). But I say you can only use each individual costume to cross off one square on your card. However, it’s up to you if you want to use Tinkerbell to cross off fairy or Disney character, bringing in a slight element of strategy. But if you do see two or more Tinkerbells walking around on Halloween night (from what I can gather, it’s a pretty popular costume), you can cross off both. You might have to settle some disputes as you play (like whether Princess Leia counts as a Disney princess), but that’s all part of the fun.

You can set a time limit, or just make the game last the duration of the party. You can play at a costume party, at school, or Halloween night (especially if you’re the one stuck at home alone handing out the candy. Why not call up another friend at home and have them play, too? Text each other pictures of your finished card when you win). Play by yourself or with a small group; it’s a very adaptable game. You can even have prizes for the winner(s), like pre-purchased candy bars, or some sweet deal like winner gets all the Snickers bars of the Halloween candy haul. Make it fit your group and make it fun!

Variations: There are lots of variations to I Spy Bingo. In addition to holidays or holiday parties, you can play on a road trip, in the airport, at the mall while people watching… I have some other ideas I’m working on that I’m excited to post, so stay tuned!

Printables: To make your Halloween Bingo easy, here’s some free printables! The first one comes with 6 unique cards already filled out. (But even if you want to play with more than 6 people, it would probably work just fine as long as there’s enough variation in the costumes you all see). The second one is blank so you can fill in your own costumes. This would be a great way to play and encourage creativity. Just come up with some basic rules, especially if you’re playing with a lot of people, and let the fun begin!

Halloween Bingo thumbnail

Halloween Costume Bingo

Halloween Bingo blank thumbnail

Halloween Costume Bingo: blank cards

Happy Halloween! I hope you all enjoy!

Draw your dream house

What it is: More of an activity than a game, but one that kept my sisters and I occupied many a time in our childhood. Just like the title says, you draw your dream house.

Best for: One person or a smaller group, maybe during a time when you need to be quiet.

What you need: Everyone needs paper and a pen or pencil. Optional: colored pencils, crayons, markers, or other supplies for making your dream house pretty.

How to play: Really, it’s a simple activity. You just draw your dream house! And when you’re a kid (or an adult), you can let your imagination run wild, which is where the fun comes in. I thought the best way to show this activity would be an example, so imagine how happy I was when, during the move my family recently completed, I was going through a box of old memories and found this:

I wish I had dated it! My best guess is that I drew it when I was 7 or 8? But this is exactly what I’m talking about! Usually my sisters and I drew kind of a floor plan layout like this, and of course our houses were always ginormous and held all sorts of cool extras. Which seemed to mostly be themed rooms: a party room, a toy room, a ferris wheel room, a rock climbing room, a pet room, a maze room, a museum room, a candy room, of course…oh, and a manatee room. (My sisters and I were in love with manatees. We thought they were the coolest things ever.) There also has to be a mini airport, of course, and indoor swimming pool. Anyway, I’m so glad I found this priceless drawing. Maybe I can convince my husband to build this floor plan for us one day. 😉

And as a bonus, here’s another, more recent example. I think I drew this shortly after my husband and I were married; I was babysitting some younger cousins and wanted to show them one of my favorite drawing activities. So, since I was older this one is of course more realistic…(uh, kind of…)

Notice I kept the indoor swimming pool (this time with a dolphin) and now have a private helicopter pad instead of a mini airport. And complete with home theater, exercise room, large kitchen, hot tob, play room, and star-gazing deck, this dream home is perfect. Oh, and slides to reach the lower levels. Who hasn’t wanted a house with slides at one point?

Anyway, this second drawing shows another way you can draw your dream home: as a cut-away side view instead of a bird’s-eye view. And you can use words to label rooms (like in the first drawing), or you can just draw (like in the second). Either way, whatever you want to draw, go for it! Draw your dream home. Adding as many details as possible is always fun.

Variations: We often played this with sidewalk chalk, too, except it was more of a “draw your dream room.” Each of us would take one large square of the driveway (the squares formed by the seams in the concrete) and pretend it was our room, drawing in beds, dressers, rugs, and usually bean bag chairs and lava lamps (things we always wanted but never had), all from a bird’s-eye view. Then you can play house in your new room. :) My husband also played a similar game in talking version called build a cabin in your mind.