Five Fantastic Ideas for a Family Games Night

A family game night is an excellent way of promoting deeper relationships between all the members of your family, which is one of the main goals for most home-schooling families. It can produce life-long memories between parents and children of all ages, and even grandparents if they can join you regularly. Here are five top ideas for your next family games night.

Games should be chosen to include every family member, so that they are not too hard for younger children yet are complex enough to provide a challenge for older players. They should also be suitable for any number of players so that no one is excluded. These five family games fulfill these requirements.

Rummy is a thinking card game using a normal deck of cards without the jokers. Two or three players have ten cards each, four or five players receive seven cards each, six players each receive six cards. The rest of the cards are placed face down as a pick-up pile in the middle of the table, with the top card turned over and put face up beside the pile to start the discard pile. Players look at their cards to see if they can form any ‘melds’. A meld can be three or more cards that either form a run of the same suit (for example; Ace, 2, 3, 4 of Hearts) or are of the same rank (for example; three Jacks). Note that in Rummy an Ace always counts as a “1″ and is never higher than a King. Player One has the choice of picking up the top card from either the discard pile or the pick-up pile, before getting rid of any card by placing it face up on the discard pile. This means that he or she will end their turn with the same number of cards they started with. Players continue in a clockwise direction. The first player to form two or more melds of all the cards in their hand and discard their final card wins the game.

Table Story is a fun word game that requires no preparation or equipment. It has become one of my family’s favourite word games. An adult or older child starts a story, which each player adds to as it proceeds around the table. For example, she may start the story by saying, “Michael and his family had been driving for a long time. He was bored. He looked out the window and was rather shocked to see … ” The next player completes the sentence and then continues the story for a few more sentences before the next player takes over and so on around the table. There may be many twists and turns in the story but it must always make sense. When everyone has had a few turns adding their part to the story the original story teller can end the story.

Mute Spelling is another word game that requires no preparation or equipment. Every player starts with their score on the letter “A”. Player One is given a word to spell. The word should be fairly easy to spell, but the player can only say the consonants. Vowels are given by using the following symbols:

  • “A” – raise your right hand
  • “E” – raise your left hand
  • “I” – point to your eye
  • “O” – point to your open mouth
  • “U” – point to any other player.

As an example, when spelling the word “APPLE” they would raise their right hand, then say P-P-L before raising their left hand. A player who makes a mistake progresses from a score of “A” to “E”, then “I”, “O” and “U” for any other mistakes before they are out of the game.

Pig is an easy dice game for any number of players using only one die. Players take turns rolling the die and adding their scores for each roll. They can choose to stop at any time and keep their score for that round, but a roll of “1″ wiped out the score for the round and ends their turn. Scores are added for each round, and the first player to get an overall score of fifty points or more wins the game. In my family, one son plays cautiously and stops when his score reaches ten points in any round, while another son tries to score the full fifty points every round.

Anti-Um is a spoken word game that can really help language and public speaking skills as well as being fun. A topic is chosen for the player, such as “Books” or “Painting”. They then have thirty seconds to consider the topic before speaking about it for one minute or more. They must not pause or say “Um” (or any similar word) during their speech. Every player has a turn, with a different topic chosen to suit each player. It is quite hard when you first try, but after a few weeks practice it becomes easier.

Family games nights can include commercial games like Clue or Monopoly, but it is often more fun to use a simple deck of cards or a few dice. After all, home-schoolers recognize that it is the quality of the time spent together rather than the cost of the game that is most important. See our website if you would like more details on these or other family games.


Andrew, with his wife and seven home-schooled children, owns Family Games Treasurehouse which has rules for over two hundred family games. Visit Family Games Treasurehouse and sign up for our free newsletter to download our ebook, “25 Family Dice Games”. This article is copyright but may be freely republished provided the text, author credit, site links and this copyright notice remain intact.

avatar Andrew Low (3 Posts)

I am an Australian homeschooling father of seven children and married for 22 years. Our eldest son is currently studying Computer Programming at university. Our kids are very musical, studying piano, trumpet, guitar, violin and saxophone. It gets quite noisy during morning practice before they get into their school work!


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