Thursday, January 27, 2011

Make your own board and card games

My family loves to play games! We play board games, card games, strategy games, and video games together as a family and with friends. On nights when the kids eat their dinner, take their bath and get ready for bed early they get to play games with mom and dad as a treat. Some of our favorites to play together are Carcassone, UNO, Cranium and Wii Party. If the game we play is too hard for one or both of the youngest members of the family we split into teams to make the game more fair and fun for everyone.

Because of our obsession with games, we have a LOT of them stashed in cabinets around the house, and as you know, board games aren't cheap. Some of them are very NOT cheap. Many years ago we found a game company called Cheap-Ass games that sold what looked photo copies of game boards in manila envelopes with the titles of the games printed on them. The games were really good, but not manufactured in a fancy way that would make them expensive to produce. That gave me the idea to try to make my own board and card games for the kids.

Charades is probably the easiest game to make at home. I made a Christmas version by writing a bunch of holiday words on slips of paper then putting the paper into an old yogurt container. Shake up the container, reach in, grab a slip of paper and act it out.

Just as easily and using the exact same pieces of paper and words,  you can make your own Pictionary game by drawing the clues rather than acting them. My kids loved playing both of these games over an over at Christmastime. I'll probably make other holiday versions throughout the year on Valentines day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, etc.

Memory is one of those games that is even better when you make it at home. A few years ago I was thinking of getting Son a Spiderman Memory game but kept forgetting it when I was at the store. So, I decided to make one myself and customize it for him. I searched the Internet for pictures of Spiderman and other super heroes. I then printed out 2 of each one on card stock and cut them all to be the same size. We played a few games of this and had a blast, but I realized that we needed more cards to make the games more fun. I had already used all of the super heroes I knew, so I used pictures of people in the family for the next set of cards. I didn't tell anyone I had added the family pictures. So the next time we played the kids were very surprised to see their own faces and faces of mom and dad and grandparents popping up here and there. They thought it was hilarious.

Pictionary Squiggle
This is a really fun one or 2 player drawing game. For Christmas one year I made these Squiggle books for both of my kids by cutting regular printer paper into quarters and stacking it up, cutting card stock for the front and back cover, then punching holes in everything and knoting it with yarn into booklets. I then drew a squiggle on each page in pen. This could be a few straight lines or a curvy line or a circle. Then I cut some slips of paper like in pictionary/charades above and wrote some names of animals, household items, people, and other random nouns. To play this game, a player draws a slip of paper without looking then has to draw that object on a page in the squiggle book and incorporate the squiggle into the drawing. The results are often funny, but always interesting and fun to watch.

Capture the number
I got the idea for this game from one I saw once upon a time. This is a 2 person math game played with a pair of dice and 2 sets of 12 colored stones (12 of one color and 12 of another). Print out a clock face without the hands for your game board. Each number on the board should have 2 circles next to it. Player "A" rolls the dice then adds the 2 numbers together. Player A can then put down one or more stones next to numbers that total to their number. If Player B has a stone on one of the numbers Player A wishes to use then Player A Knocks player B off of that number. To capture the number completely and lock it a player must have a stone on both of the 2 circles next to a number. There can never be 2 different colored stones next to the same number. An example roll could be a 6 and a 2. Added together that is 8. The player could then put stones on 1 and 7, 2 and 6, 3 and 5, or capture and lock number 4 by putting 2 stones on that number.  You can make this game easier or harder by allowing subtraction or adding more dice. Both of my kids enjoy playing it but the 5 year old doesn't get some of the strategy yet. So I'd say it's probably a game for ages 6+.

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