Running Out of Games? Remember These Old-School Favorites

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That “cooped-up” feeling is real as we all do our parts to halt the spread of the pandemic, and it can be particularly tough to find things to do with your children. It’s important to have as many ideas as possible in your back pocket for getting through the day.

So, here are a few games, possibly from your childhood, that meet the important criteria for our time at home: The games can be played in your house, they require no equipment, they can be modified for different age groups and best of all, they require little or no touching. (Some of them may even qualify as educational.)

But why should the kids get all the fun? Set up a virtual game night with friends and relive your childhood favorites.

20 Questions is a guessing game in which people try to identify a person, place or thing the leader is thinking about in 20 questions or less. Group members ask “yes” or “no” questions until the mystery item or person is guessed. It’s stationary, meaning there’s no running around or mess and it can be played in small groups. A similar game is I Spy.

Ghost was one of my favorite games to play with my parents on long car rides! Players try to add a letter to a growing word fragment without ever actually spelling a word. If they accidentally spell a valid word, they lose the round. If they add a letter but a word is no longer possible to be made using that combination of letters, another player can “challenge” them.

Animal Alphabet asks players to think of an animal that begins with the letter A (like ant). The next person has to think of an animal that begins with the last letter of the last animal thought of within a certain time limit. For example, after “an(t)” someone could volunteer “(t) urtle.” Continue the pattern until someone fails to think of an animal.

Make Me Laugh is great for cheering up the housebound. Choose one person to be on the “hot seat.” Set a timer for 90 seconds. The rest of the group has one simple goal, which is to make the person on the hot seat laugh without touching them. (No tickling!). Laughs, smiles, giggles and snorts can create disagreement, so one simple rule applies: If you show your teeth in the hot seat, you are out, and you join the group trying to make someone else laugh in the next round.

Chopsticks is a two-player math game that may be familiar to families with children in elementary school. (First, wash your hands, as this game requires light hand tapping.) Players put out their hands in front of them with the index finger extended on each hand. The person chosen to go first taps the other person’s hand. The number of fingers the tapping hand had extended get transferred to the receiver’s hand. And the turn moves to the second player. The goal is to keep going and adding fingers to your opponent’s hand by tapping. If you accidentally give your opponent more than five fingers, they are still in and display the “overage.” (For example, if they were given six fingers, they only have to show one.) When someone’s hand has five fingers extended, that hand is considered “out” and is no longer in play.