Family activity nights are big deals at our house!  Not that we spend a lot of money or anything, but we do keep them a big priority.  We know that having regular family activities keeps our family relationships fresh.  The night gives us something to talk about and look forward to.

Here are is a list of our top ten activities which don’t really cost anything:

Years ago I read an article in a magazine called Family Fun about this great game.  This is how you play it.  You need at least three players and a blanket.

Lay a large blanket on the carpet or grass and gather round in your stocking feet.  Everyone must be wearing two, and only two, socks.  My children run for their longest ones when we are going to play this game.  You will see why.

The first two people are the players and the third person is the referee.  The two players face each other and then the referee says, “Go.”

How to win.  The idea of the game is to remove the other person’s socks while keeping your own socks safe.  The person with a sock on at the end is the winner.

The match ends as soon as someone is sock-less.

You get out if you hurt another person or go off the blanket.  The referee declares the winner and watches the blanket boundaries.

It is absolutely essential to explain the no one can get hurt rule to the group.  This keeps the game silly and safe.

Here is a video of how the game goes

2- Four Square

This old playground game is one of our favorites.  There is nothing old about it when we play.  We reinvent the rules each round.

Where to do it.  Take your sidewalk chalk to the driveway, the circle or street, or to an empty parking lot nearby.  Draw a traditional box divided into four squares.

The only other supply you need is a bouncy playground ball or basket ball.

Keep the energy high and the people changing positions by changing the rules each round.  The person in the A square can make new rules each round before the serve is made.  Here are the basic rules to the game.

List of fun rules we use:

Vary the number of bounces allowed per square (1,2,3)

Vary how many “Mississippis” a person gets (How long you can hold the ball before passing)

Catching the ball gets you out

Skyscrapers allowed (You can bounce the ball as I has you can in another person’s square)

Babies allowed (You can bounce the ball as small as you can in another person’s square)

Bubbles allowed (You can bump the ball up and down in your hands until you get back to the square or decide how to play it)

Footsies allowed (you can lightly kick the ball)

One handed play (you can only use one hand in that round)

ETC.

Get creative, and give everyone a chance to be the person deciding upon the rules.

3- Puppet Shows

Years ago Spencer and I decided to make a puppet theater for the children for Christmas.  We also invested in and made some puppets to have on hand.

This is a video of how we made it

Puppet shows are not just for children.  Oh no!  They are way more fun if youth and adults take a turn too.

Tell Great Stories:  See if you can make stories where no one gets beat up.  For some reason, puppets beating each other seems like a regular story theme.  Think grander.

Make comedies, tragedies, and family histories.  Tell stories of your childhood, tell stories about your family heritage,  tell gospel stories, tell fairy tales with surprise endings.

If your family gets in the habit of creating in this way your children will have increased confidence and become better writers in the future.

4- Theme Parties

Have a party.  Why not.  You don’t have to be too elaborate.  It doesn’t need to cost a lot.  Just dress up creatively and have a theme.

Medieval parties are cool.  Eat on trenchers instead of plates.  Have talent from the court during the meal.  And, use the proper medieval rules of etiquette.  Of course using the party as a learning or culminating activity is always perfect.

Mother Goose parties are our favorites.  We love memorizing poetry.  Have a dinner where everything on the menu is from a Mother Goose rhyme.  Come dressed as your favorite character and make people guess who you are.  Have Mother Goose games and a time for reciting and acting out the rhyme you represent.

Hero parties are inspiring!  Come dressed as your favorite old time or scripture hero.  Have moments when you stand up and give inspiring speeches like your hero would give.  Play hero games and do hero plays.

5- Obstacle Courses

From the time I was a little girl I have loved doing obstacle courses.  They don’t need to be elaborate to be fun.

Here is  a list of household things you can use:

patio furniture

buckets

card tables

blankets

rope

soccer cones

chairs

children play equipment like crawling tubes and slides

side walk chalk

skateboards

bicycles

balls

umbrellas

ETC.

6- Garden Fun

Give your children their own garden spot to tend to. So that they can learn responsibility and feel success in the crop they produce.  This will also inspire Mom and Dad to share the work load at home.  Children are improved greatly by being given small adult responsibilities at young ages.  Having a family garden night is so great for relationships and family unity.

I will always remember the gardening and working with my parents, but have forgotten many of the games and play time.  The reason for this is that during family work time I was learning from my parents.  I was developing life skills and I knew I needed to pay attention.  I also saw my parents differently during these times.  We were a team and had a common project.  Working in the yard with my parents will always be some of my fondest childhood memories.

7- Drama Games

Drama is a confidence building, and unifying skill to know.  By practicing speaking and acting in a a safe environment, as a family, the children develop the skills they need to present at church, school, and community activities.

We have many activity books we use for drama games, but one of our favorites is : On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids by: Lisa Bany-Winters.

We use these great games for birthday parties, school groups and family reunions too.

8- Shopping Trip Scavenger Hunt

This is a hilarious, quick game for all ages.

Divide the family into teams putting one older person with one younger person, or two if you have to.  Then give each person a piece of paper and a pencil.  Have them make a column or two and write the letters to the alphabet.  The teams have a specific amount of time to go through the store and find a product which starts each letter and meet back at the appointed spot.

When you meet back, the teams exchange lists.  Now, the teams race to see who can find all the items, write their isle numbers and make it back to the meeting spot first.

9- Yard Games

Playing active games in the yard or at the park is always fun.  It also encourages good exercise.

Regular exercise invigorates the mind and body and boosts self confidence.  Boys and girls both feel bad about themselves if they know they are not strong and fit.

These are outdoor games we like to play:

Jump Rope, Hop Scotch, Kick Ball, Badminton, Volleyball, Dodge Ball, Chinese Jump Rope, Side Walk Chalk City, Bike Ride, Soccer, Jumping in Leaves, Croquet, water fight, tug of war, Footsies, and playing on the trampoline.

One indoor exercise our family loves is Chicken Fat.  When I was a little girl my family did Chicken Fat together for fun, and our family does it too.  This is the video we have.    This looks like the same one on DVD.

10- Cards, Puzzles, and Board Games

Playing card games and board games is great social training time.  Home is the safest and best place to teach social skills.  Families can learn how to share attention, how to communicate effectively, and how to loose and win graciously.  Game time also teaches family members things about each other they didn’t know before.  As we talk and play together we better understand how each other thinks.  This helps the whole family in day-to-day communications, and in future relationships outside the family.

List of games we enjoy:

Twister – Boom-o – Uno Attack – Apples to Apples (play it in reverse too) – Ticket to Ride – Wits and Wagers – Scum – Yatzee – Zilch – Slap Jack