Rock-paper-scissors-instructionsWhat it is: An easy, fast game that everyone probably already knows. But I like to be comprehensive, so here we go with some rock-paper-scissors instructions. Rock-paper-scissors is a quick win-loose game that is often used to determine who will go first or who will win some other small privilege.

Best for: Two players. But you could have a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament with tons of people!

What you need: Nothing! Well, technically speaking, each player needs to use their two hands.

How to play: In rock-paper-scissors, two players will each randomly choose one of three hand signs: rock (made by making a fist), paper (made by laying your hand flat), or scissors (made by holding out two fingers to look like scissors). Both players show their signs at the same time to see who will win. Here are the rules that determine which sign beats another:

  • Rock wins over scissors (because rock smashes scissors)
  • Scissors wins over paper (because scissors cut paper)
  • Paper wins over rock (because paper covers rock)

(If that last one doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you…you’re not alone.)

If both players show the same sign, it’s a tie. And that’s basically the whole game! It’s often played in a best-two-out-of-three format as a quick contest to decide who gets to go first or something like that.

To make sure things are clear, here’s a short video on the game:

It’s essentially just a game of chance. But if you’re young, rock-paper-scissors is a legitimately exciting game that can provide hours of fun…or, if not hours, at least minutes.

I did find this video that gives some interesting insight and tips at winning rock-paper-scissors. Who knew there could be that much strategy involved in a game of chance?

Variations: I’ve never played it, but there’s a variation invented by Sam Kass and Karen Bryla that includes five options instead of three: Rock-Paper-Scissors-Spock-Lizard. And I guess you could include the rock-scissors-dynamite variation. 😉

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. 🙂

Walk on the ceiling

walk-on-the-ceilingWhat it is: A game, or really more of an activity, to play around the house. It’s ideal for one to two players, really entertaining for little children, a new favorite of my four-year-old, and the reason my handheld mirror is broken.

Best for: One, two, or three children in a house.

What you need: You’ll need a handheld mirror, not huge, but big enough to see your whole face in. If you have more than one person, you can have more than one mirror (more fun). Or you can take turns (less fun).

How to play: This is a simple one. You take a handheld mirror and use it to pretend to walk on the ceiling. To do this, just hold the mirror parallel to the floor, pressed against your face right underneath your nose. Then look down into the mirror, which will be displaying a reflection of the ceiling.

If you walk around and use your suspension of disbelief, it kind of feels like you’re actually walking on the ceiling, especially if the mirror is large enough to cover up the view of your feet and the ground beneath you.

So then the fun part comes in the novelty of walking on the ceiling. There are light fixtures to avoid, door frames to step over, and sometimes giant pits (aka, vaulted ceilings) that you could fall into. The ceiling is a dangerous place. It can be fun to play with two people, so you can plan and explore together. You can definitely add more imaginative play too, like a mission to complete or ceiling goblins chasing after you or the spacetime continuum to restore to balance. Something like that.

Just be sure that when you’re playing you’re not totally unaware of the ground you’re actually walking on. Me and my sisters loved to play this when we were little, and I remember getting banged shins from coffee tables in the process. Make sure the rooms are tidy, without too many toys or objects to trip over or step on. (Like Legos. Legos are the worst.)

It’s funny, I recently taught my son Carson to play this. He loved it from the get-go. And asks to play every time I’m doing my hair and makeup and he sees my little mirror. Did I mention he broke one already? Now I know why my mom was always reluctant to let us play when I was a kid. She was worried not only about the safety of her mirrors, but us, too.

I never got it before. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to take away all our fun like that.

I understand now, Mom. I understand.

Christmas gift pass

'twas the night before christmas gift pass right left gameWhat it is: A Christmas gift pass/exchange activity, kind of like a white elephant gift exchange, but for younger kids. It’s easier and faster than a white elephant gift exchange and, because there’s no actual choosing involved, will probably lead to less gift-picker remorse/tears.

Best for: A classroom of children, anywhere from 12 to 30ish.

What you need: Each child will need to bring a wrapped gift for this gift exchange activity. It would be nice to set up some rules or a theme beforehand, like everyone bring a wrapped book, or the gift should be anywhere from $3-$5, or please keep it gender neutral, etc. You’ll also need this printable poem to read.

How to play: Have everyone sit in a circle on the floor. Then you can start one of two ways. You can have all the children put their gifts in a pile in the middle of the circle, then let everyone go up and pick a gift. They can probably all go up at the same time. Tell them they’re not going to end up with the gift they pick, so it’s not a decision to stress over. For an easier way to start or for younger children, just have each child hold the gift he or she brought.

Once everyone is seated in a circle and holding a gift, explain how the gift pass will work. You’ll read a poem aloud, and every time you say the words right or left, the children will pass their gift in the direction you say. (So the children will need to have at least a basic understanding of right and left.)

Then start reading the poem aloud. It’s an adaptation of the famous “‘Twas Night Before Christmas” poem. The key difference is words have been added – the words “right” and “left,” as many times as I could get them in. 🙂 (It unfortunately messes with the rhythm a little bit, but it’s for the sake of the game.) Any time you come to one of those words, bolded and underlined for your convenience, really emphasize it. Make sure all the children pass their gift in the right direction. If your class is young, it might be nice to have another parent or teacher helper to oversee the passing.

Hopefully the kids will enjoy it, listening in anticipation for the words and watching the gifts move around the circle. And it’s a great way to practice directions, too. At the end of the poem, everyone keeps the gift he or she ends up with. Then all the children can open their gifts, either together or one at a time.

Note: I didn’t come up with this game. I remember playing it as a child at a class party, but I can’t quite remember when. I couldn’t find the text anywhere, so I wrote a new version. The original author of the poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is Clement Clarke Moore.

Printables: Here’s the free printable poem you can read! The instructions are also included on the printable.

'twas the night before christmas gift pass activity right left free printable

Printable-markerChristmas Poem Gift Pass