Grandma meant so much to me that I can't cram it all into one article. Here is just one story that I hope will show you a little bit of what she was like and how she shaped me.
My third-grade son and I came up with a game that was a lot of fun and valuable math practice and physical exercise for him, while being very easy for me and using only a few basic supplies that were easy to set up and clean up. This is a perfect activity for families in … Continue reading GAME SHOW!! with math practice
If you've never played Fluxx, this holiday season is the time to start! It's now easier to buy and less expensive than ever before. A new edition of Fluxx has just been released in Target stores, and until December 8, 2012, it is on sale for only $4! After that, it will be $10, still … Continue reading Fluxx: A Fun Card Game for Everyone!
The sky is so blue today. The sun is so bright, the leaves are still green, and the birds are singing. It's a beautiful day, just like the eleventh of this month eleven years ago. I remember walking home after my office closed early on September 11, 2001, thinking how impossibly wrong it felt that … Continue reading Living on the Flip Side
This is one of my favorite games. I like to build these maps using the cards I designed in 2001. I must have built hundreds of suburban developments by now, but I have never posted enough photos to give a clear idea of what this free card game is really like. At first, it may … Continue reading Welcome to Earth Suburb.
My partner Daniel joined a group of computer game programmers who wrote 38 interactive fiction (text adventure) games in tribute to the 20th anniversary of Apollo 18, the They Might Be Giants album with 38 tracks. Each game has the same title as one song on the album. Daniel wrote "Hall of Heads". That is, … Continue reading FREE computer game: Hall of Heads
I ran an All-Ages Game Night at my church last month as both a social event for our members and a way to connect with our community (and maybe attract some new members). It was easy to do, extremely inexpensive, and lots of fun! My family loves games and owns enough to fill a large … Continue reading All-Ages Game Night: A great community event!
Well, maybe not all ages, but children as young as 3 can play Seven Dragons. This card game with beautiful art includes modified rules for preschoolers. It's not just for kids, though; it's a great game for parties because it's easy to learn and involves some strategy without being stressfully competitive. Seven Dragons debuted at … Continue reading 3 Fun New Games for All Ages!
But then Daniel passed me a large paper bag full of yard-sale stuff, and as I took hold of the top edge, the bottom fell out, dumping twenty-seven pairs of wet, dirty, smelly socks onto our kitchen floor. Well, there were enough of them (plus a few other damp garments we found) to make a full washing-machine load. Hot cycle. Oxi-Clean. It was when I was hanging the now clean and fresh-smelling socks on the drying rack that I had a brilliant idea.
My five-year-old son has learned several new things this month. He learned how to ride a bike in an impressively short time, and he learned on the same little bike I rode as a kid, so that was a proud and sentimental milestone. He taught himself to make pizza box stained glass. But last weekend, … Continue reading My kid can play IceTowers!!!
Due to the troubled economy on Mars, you've decided to break into the Earth pizza market. You've developed an assortment of brands that are nontoxic and nicely inconspicuous...you think. The next step is to test-market your wares in a controlled area where you can closely observe the results. Thus, you have dispatched families of Martians … Continue reading Rambling Sprawl Estates
Here are two games that are easy to set up, use minimal materials, and are fun for kids about 2-10 years old at a party or holiday gathering. (See also these knee-bouncing games for entertaining younger kids!) Pass the Parcel You will need a bunch of small toys, costume jewelry and similar trinkets, coins, and/or pieces of wrapped … Continue reading Two Easy Indoor Games
These two games have been enjoyed by little children in my family for at least three generations. They worked for me when I was little, they've been favorites of my four-year-old son since he was about nine months old, and I look forward to trying them on his younger cousins this Thanksgiving! These are the … Continue reading Knee-bouncing Games
Many years ago, I came up with an idea for a game in which you build a map of a suburban area using cards/tiles depicting segments of street. I made a rough prototype, and then my friends the Looneys helped me make a better "alpha deck" on some extra blank cards they happened to have. The next … Continue reading Try my card game!
Daniel and I are gamer geeks. Our first memory of spending time together (we met gradually, both being members of a fairly large student organization) is a party where we played Nomic. We started to hang out together more when I came to the game nights he and his housemates hosted. Attending a gigantic game … Continue reading Growing a Gamer Geek
I wrote this article in 1999, when I was not yet a parent but was noticing that many adults I knew were very awkward when relating to children or actually tried to exclude children from fun activities rather than figure out how the kids could fit in. I mentioned this to Kristin Looney, whose company … Continue reading When Kids Show Up at Your Demo
My dad used to play this game with me when I was little, and now I play it with my son: Place your child in a swing and stand in front of it. Frown. Say, "Go away!" and push the swing. Now open your arms and smile. Say, "Come here, Nicholas!" [or, for best results, … Continue reading Come Here! Go Away!
As we walked along our neighborhood's main street this afternoon, my four-year-old son asked me about a strange-looking contraption on the sidewalk. I explained that it's for the safe, sanitary disposal of cigarette butts. Sadly, Nicholas knows all about cigarettes, even though nobody in our family smokes them, because in our urban habitat we routinely … Continue reading An Everyday Educational Game
A couple of weeks ago, we were making one of our family's favorite dinners: beans, guacamole, diced tomato, and chips. As usual, Daniel was Mexicanating the beans while I made the guacamole. Nicholas decided, for the first time, that he wanted to help with the guacamole instead of the beans. I showed him how I … Continue reading The Way I Usually Do It
On the way back from Fairfield to the Chicago train station, we stopped at an Iowa truckstop restaurant called Gramma's Kitchen. One of the puzzles on the children's menu was this: "How many words can you make out of the letters in GRAMMA'S KITCHEN?" I glanced idly at it and thought, gram . . . ram … Continue reading Some Word Games