What are some ideas for old-fashioned family fun?

We were bored on July 4 and decided to play cards with the kids.

Michael had previously taught our 11 and 9 year old Gin Rummy and they are shockingly good at it. They really understand the rules and what they are looking for. They also understand how to play off of what others lay down and decided after a couple of hands that they were better to lay down a get some points instead of holding out for the 50-point bonus.

We played for two hours the first night. (The 5-year-old is my assistant or sometimes draws at the table while we play.)

We want teach them other card games to play with a regular deck like Hearts and Hi, Low, Jack.

I picked up UNO because I know the 5-year-old can play that one. And I picked up a “Clue” card game thinking that would be more portable for our trip.

They do have a Scrabble card game that I played with my niece and nephew last year at the beach. It was fun and even a kindergartener could play it.

So I’m wondering what are some other old-fashioned activities that families do together? (Maybe they sing or put on talent shows?) What are some other things we can do during these hot months that don’t involved the TV or computer?

42 comments Add your comment


July 19th, 2012
5:35 am

We are playing UNO today, loved it as a kid and playing it with my kids is even better.


July 19th, 2012
7:39 am

Teach them how to use a sewing machine. Let them go with you to pick out a simple pattern and the material, and let them make something for themselves, maybe a pair of shorts or a skirt with elasic in the waist. It will give them a feeling of accomplishment while also demonstrating a skill that is becoming a lost art. A skill that yes, even boys need, they will need to know how to sew on a button when they are away at college.


July 19th, 2012
7:51 am

Any board game, Monopoly (we have several “versions”), Life, Chutes & Ladders, etc. Bring out the board games.UNO is a blast…UNO Attack is a lot of fun too…….Connect 4. and of course, card games……all my kids can play several versions of Solitare.

We have family game night every Wednesday night…..each week one child gets to pick the game we play, either a Wii game or a board game. KerPlunk is a lot of fun too, my youngest likes that one the best……I don’t care for Monolopy, but I’ll play…I think it gets incredibly boring after the second go-around the board…..

But I love the game of Life….


July 19th, 2012
8:18 am

We got a card game for Christmas called Sorry Revenge that we LOVE. We play the game Sorry a lot, but since we discovered this fun game, the Sorry game has stayed in the closet. Apples to Apples (regular and junior version) are also very fun games to play with the whole family.


July 19th, 2012
8:37 am

Cranium is our favorite and they make a junior version as well. We always loved Spoons when we had a group of people (and 5 is a group).

Other than that, how about making ice cream? I’d say baking if your oven doesn’t heat up the entire house.


July 19th, 2012
8:44 am

Old Maid is our favorite game. The whole family plays from grandparents to grandchildren. It has given us hours of fun. We have also played Monopoly and UNO. The kids have a blast playing with the adults.


July 19th, 2012
8:48 am

Cribbage, spades


July 19th, 2012
8:52 am

I used to love to play hearts and spades! We have Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land for DD, and the usual adult games that probably won’t get much play for a few years (Monopoly, Upwords, Risk, Trivial Pursuit). I confess that we also have Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, and predict that DD will beat her Daddy within 10 years.

@Augusta – Would UNO Attack be good for a 4-5 year old? That’s the one that shoots the cards out, right?

@Techmom – We love to make ice cream, but our machine is a put-it-in-and-wait-till-it’s-done. So I guess you could say we enjoy eating ice cream :o)

Our other fun ‘game’ is to take all the various sized bouncy balls into the basement and throw/bounce them around. Nothing to break, so it’s a great way to work off some energy.


July 19th, 2012
9:11 am

We play Bananagrams and Monopoly Deal. I am in Houston TX but will try to see what else we have that younger children might enjoy when I get home. My mind is spent after 6 hours of training teachers. I LOVE it when kids play games…so many skills involved.

@pws…I was a seamstress all though HS and college. I was talking about this to my sisters a few weeks ago. Today, it may cost more to purchase everything to make a garment than to buy it. I have a BRAND new sewing machine, still in the box, that I intended to use to show my daughter how to sew. That was 2 years ago. It was on a great sale at Costco and I picked it up. Ridiculous I know. She is very craftsy and could probably learn. Maybe after I get back from Orlando next week for work. She has a few weeks off before classes start back up at UGA. I learned how to sew my freshman year in HS. We lived in Chicago. I took a sewing class the entire year and the teacher was very persnickety. I talked and sewed during the entire class as I can multi task…haha. Once, she moved me to the teacher’s lounge to do handwork. Apparently, the other girls were talking to me and not sewing at all. That was almost 40 years ago!


July 19th, 2012
9:12 am

Posting from Houston TX and comment gone…no time to retype TWG.


July 19th, 2012
9:16 am

We go hiking a lot too….or take a picnic at the park…..Sometimes we pack up dinner and go eat at the park.

Suwanee Town Center is a perfect picnic destination. The kids can ride their bikes, play in the water fountain, and just run and have a great time. Then we go stroll the trails at George Pierce Park.


July 19th, 2012
9:24 am

These are not old fashioned but my kids love them: Scattagories and Apples to Apples. They are great for building vocabulary skills.

American Idol is another common game. Just go be together… Shut off the tv. Sit on the deck and just see what happens…mine end up singing, dancing and of course catching fire flies.


July 19th, 2012
9:34 am

Yahtzee and Trouble were our favorites. Connect Four is good once kids really understand the logic of the game. Kind of sucks when all they do is put chips anywhere randomly. I don’t like Monopoly because it takes forever but it can be fur in a large enough group. We played a lot of Spades, Pluck, and dominos too.

Man I miss being at home! Life is so different at home than it was during “those days” that we wouldn’t be doing these things anyway so I guess I’m not really missing out on THIS.


July 19th, 2012
9:45 am

We used to put on our bathing suits and run through the sprinklers in the back yard. Getting wet was a real treat on a hot day. Maybe a slip & slide would be fun for your kids?


July 19th, 2012
9:52 am

@Carrie – I was just about to post the exact same thing! I loved my slip and slide!!!

What about hopscotch? My 4 year old niece plays her version of hopscotch and it is hilarious to watch.


July 19th, 2012
9:55 am

Well.. when it’s not crazy hot, we love to play dodge ball at our house. We also have the Junior Monopoly and Junior Scrabble. My kids are 6 and 11 so the Junior versions allow everyone the ability to play. Uno and Go Fish are some card games we like along with Slap Jack. We do love baking and cooking but that is something we do on a regular basis as contribution to the household, not necessarily as a game.


July 19th, 2012
9:59 am

I believe TWG mentioned in a past blog she has a pool at the house in AZ…


July 19th, 2012
10:16 am

@FCM ~ Well in that case.. Marco Polo and Sharks and Minos is always a winner with us!!


July 19th, 2012
10:44 am

Crazy name…but “Farkle” is a fun game. You can pick it up at Target or Walmart for about $5. It is a dice game with a lot of strategy. I have two of them in my classroom for rainy recess days. Once they get the hang of it they love it. (5th grade) However, we have been playing it at home since my youngest was in 2nd grade. He just needed a little help with his score keeping. Some other things we play for indoor recess (or family car trips, waiting at a restaurant, etc.) are hangman, twenty questions, whiz kids-card game, name that tune and charades. Oh..one more…I use this one as a review for vocabulary tests in my class as well. You tape a word/words (famous person, food, location, etc.) on a person’s back, then they ask questions to try and guess what is written on the card. There is a game similar to this that you can buy where they put the word to be guessed on their forehead, but I can’t remember the name of it.


July 19th, 2012
10:53 am


July 19th, 2012
11:12 am

At our family reunion, our kids played the Flux card game and loved it. It is a game with constantly changing rules (hence the name). Each card you draw could change the rules about how many cards you may draw at a time or may let you steal cards or may change the importance of one set of cards. It keeps everyone on their toes and makes strategies go out the window as you see the cards you had been gathering become meaningless… at least for that round of play.

My kids still enjoy classic Battleship and Clue. War is an easy fun one-on-one game for cards.

They also will play a one-word-at-a-time story (you go around with each person adding just one word to the story) or a one-line drawing (each person adds just one connected line to the drawing, curved, straight, shape or otherwise until it becomes something recognizable, then they usually loosen the rules a little to allow adding a detail even if that is multiple lines). Both of those are easy, on-the-go kind of games.


July 19th, 2012
11:22 am

My two love Old Maid and 21…Sorry..Monopoly..Checkers..Chutes and Ladders..

As I have mentioned before, my two love to play “restaurant”..They make a menu, then one cooks and one is a server..They both enjoy word search puzzles..

@Carrie..Mine do that also..They have a “ELMO” that turns and sprinkles water for them..They have a slip and slide, but they don’t care for it as much..They have spent a lot of time this summer at White Water/Six Flags, so they have had all the water cooling off that they can handle..

The Dixie Diarist

July 19th, 2012
11:40 am


In the Oakland Cemetery visitor’s center, Clark asked the nice volunteer fellow where he could find his great grandfather and the nice fellow gave Clark a map and showed him where his great grandfather was resting. Clark said thank you and walked out to the porch with the map and the fellow came trotting out there and told Clark the maps were four dollars.

The rest of the group went on ahead to the Confederate soldier section. Clark and I went to pay our respects to Clark’s great grandfather. On the way, Clark, being the good Atlanta native he is, placed a golf ball on the gravesite of Bobby Jones. When we found Clark’s great grandfather, Clark asked if he could call his father to tell him where he was standing.

Give him a holler, I said.

After Clark talked to his father he seemed like he didn’t know what to do next. He would walk away for a few feet, and then come back to his great grandfather’s grave site, and then walk away again.

I told Clark to just stand and gaze at his great grandfather’s headstone and his great grandmother’s, too, and just be silent and calm and think about how important family relationships are. Just gaze and think. That’s what you do.

Clark’s great grandparents died a long, long time before Clark was born, but Clark still seemed like he was going to cry. But he didn’t.

As we walked back toward the buses in the cold wind, I could tell Clark was moved. He takes deep breaths and blows them out when something heavy is on his mind and has a hard time forming words at first. I put my arm around his shoulder and gave him a squeeze. I told him he did a good thing today, and that it had been a great pleasure to be with him.

On the way back up the highway we came to the only toll booth in the historic state of Georgia. I started reaching into my coat pocket where I had put some toll booth money earlier in the morning.

Clark tapped me on my right shoulder. He held out his palm. He had two quarters in it.

I thanked him and told him I had it covered.

Clark insisted that he pay our toll. It was something he really wanted to do today. He said he’d been planning it.

I took the two quarters from Clark, and told him he was a mighty good citizen, too, just like his great grandfather, the famous mayor of a city he helped make a better place, too.



July 19th, 2012
11:52 am

@Scooby – are you talking about Chickenfoot with double-9s dominos? If so, I LOVE that! I can’t get anyone to play with me. Admittedly I cannot remember how to do the score but I could find that out if I could convince people to play…


July 19th, 2012
12:51 pm

@newblogger – We LOVE Farkle! We also like Life, Backgammon and Checkers. Lately, we have been on a Rummikub kick. It’s like rummy, but with tiles.

Fred ™

July 19th, 2012
12:53 pm

Fred; Name jacking with pride and joy to be an asshat for months. Now THAT’S a good old fashioned game.

tiger ochocinco returns

July 19th, 2012
1:46 pm

My 8 year old likes playing Hold ‘em with me and the poker buddies….when he’s not raking in tips grabbing us beer and handing out cookies. I swear that kid made 20 bucks last game.


July 19th, 2012
1:49 pm

@Denise – I think our dominoes go up to 12, but could be played with 9’s. On scoring (and I don’t know if this is the official scoring), when the 1st person runs out of dominoes, everyone else has to add theirs up. Double blank is worth 50 pts. After you go through all the hands (blank thru 12 or 9) the person with the lowest score wins.


July 19th, 2012
2:02 pm

We didn’t have many board games when I was growing up. I was never really interested in board games. I did enjoy a few we had, or my friends had that we’d play when I went to their houses.

I had a friend that had the MAD Magazine Game. It was a board game that was the satire of all board games, like the magazine itself. It worked like Monopoly, but in reverse: Whoever LOST all of their money first, wins. There were spaces on the board you would land on, and some of them had sayings like “If there is someone with elbows on the table, lose $200″. If you landed on a “Take a Card” space, you had to take a card and do exactly what the card said. Some of the instructions on the card included “Walk backwards around the table with the card on your head. If the card does not fall off, lose $200; if it does, you win $200.” Just like Monopoly, there was a “Jail” space, but you didn’t pay; you earned. I don’t think you’ll find it in stores anymore, except maybe thrift stores, garage sales, or eBay.


July 19th, 2012
2:20 pm

Thanks Scooby! That sounds about right. I’ve never seen Double 12 dominos. I’ll have to look for them!


July 19th, 2012
2:58 pm

@Denise – Pressman Double 12 Color Dot Dominos In A Tin. $12.89 through Amazon. I think I got ours at Walmart. Remember to get the color ones. Although 9 would make the game a little shorter.


July 19th, 2012
3:03 pm

Fred(tm), once again, I have not name jacked you, my name is Fred, I do not post as Fred(tm). Since my name is Fred, that is the name I will use and continue to use, you can go ahead and use your “trademarked” name. Never once have I made a rude comment towards you or anyone else on this forum, and I would ask the same of you. I may not be a regular poster, but I have been reading and posting using the name Fred for years, I am sorry you don’t like it, but I will not change my name due to your whining.


July 19th, 2012
3:50 pm

During a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium, my boys decided to combine their vacation money and buy a game of “Oceanopoly” (neither one had enough by himself). The names of things are different, but the rules look about the same as the classic game we all remember. That should be fun to play.

Patrick@2:02 – My cousins had the Mad Magazine game when we were growing up. I had one advantage over everyone else who played. One of the rules required players to roll the dice left-handed, or they had to take some money. All the other players were right-handed, but I (as my moniker suggests) am left-handed.

mystery poster

July 19th, 2012
3:59 pm

SPUD and Sardines
SPUD is a ball game, everyone gets a number and one person throws up the ball and calls out a random number. Everyone else runs. Whoever has that number has to get the ball and then yell “SPUD” and everyone freezes. The one with the ball takes 3 giant steps and throws the ball at someone. If he hits them, they get an S and they’re “it”, if not, he gets the S and is still “it” Once someone has an S-P-U-D, they’re out. Last one standing wins. My kids always loved it, and we played again a few years ago. Yes, there are winners and losers.

Sardines is the opposite of hide and seek. One person hides and then everyone else looks for him. When someone finds him, they hide along with them. Last one to find everyone else is it. By that time, everyone is usually giggling uncontrollably.

Typing this fast, so I hope I didn’t leave out any rules. If so, just make up your own :-)


July 19th, 2012
4:59 pm

@Leigh we always played Rummikube when I went to see my grandmother. Backgammond too. My kids just turned their nose up at Rummikube, but I still think it is fun.

Spent many summers playing Uno (another popular one at our house) at my extended relatives growing up.


July 19th, 2012
5:11 pm

mystery poster: We played a similar game to your SPUD called Scatter ball. A combination of SPUD and dodge ball. We always had between 12 and 25 kids(all ages) from our neighborhood playing. We also played kick the can – a version of hide-and-seek. As for board and card games we learned cribbage at 5 and backgammon was big in our house. We also had a game that my mom made up and used at school when she taught. City, Country, State. The categories were at the top of the paper along with; name, food, animal, and job. Someone would say the alphabet in their head(fast or slow) and everyone else would say stop. Whatever letter they stopped on was the letter used for the categories. Then, several years later a game called Scattegories came out. Wish my mom would have patented the game! When my kids were little we loved Sorry, UNO, and all versions of Trivial Pursuit. Have fun!!!

Warrior Woman

July 19th, 2012
6:11 pm

For card games, we like spades, UNO, & Phase 10 the best, although we also play spoons, spit, speed, war, and double (and sometimes triple or quadruple) solitaire.

We love Farkle and Pass the Pigs. Pass the Pigs is like a dice game, but you roll tiny toy pigs instead. Lately we’ve been playing Mancala too.

Favorite board/box games are Apples to Apples, Chickenfoot/Mexican Dominoes, Monopoly, Sorry, Life, checkers, and Pictionary. We absolutely love word games, like Scrabble, Boggle, Tri-Bond, Storycube, Taboo, Mad Gabs, Scattergories, etc.

In the pool, tag, Marco Polo and Sharks and Minnows. Horse on the basketball court. Tag, flashlight tag, sardines, and other tag variations are also fun.


July 20th, 2012
9:24 am

The only other board game that stands out in my childhood that my parents played with me was chess. I never cared much for checkers, but I loved chess. I still do, just never got around to playing, except the occasional computer game. It’s not the same.

@pws – I agree that kids today should learn to sew. Would be cheaper to hem or let out fabric than to buy new clothes year after year, and to do small repairs, like sew buttons back on. One project I think TWG and her kids might have fun doing is to make a family quilt. Each kid could pick out a patterned fabric at the local fabric store, or else use an old shirt, bed sheet, or other article of clothing or fabric, TWG could cut them up, and they could work together to sew the pieces together and make a family quilt that could be used as a throw on the sofa, and the kids could lay on during family movie nights.

[...] What are some ideas for old-fashioned family fun?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Michael had previously taught our 11 and 9 year old Gin Rummy and they are shockingly good at it. They really understand the rules and what they are looking for. They also understand how to play off of what others lay down and decided after a couple of … [...]

FCM on my cell

July 22nd, 2012
1:51 pm

You & Michael have a date…music, dinner, dancing out by the pool. If the kids spot ya they will giggle & make ewwwwww noises. Good fun, & they grow up to appreciaye their parents love each other.


July 24th, 2012
2:26 pm

That’s easy! Grow a pet TickleMe Plant