a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Jan, 2013

Revisiting Family Game Night

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy

Finally organizing our board games in our custom book/game shelf !! #FishbowlRenoFor awhile there, every Tuesday was Family Game Night around here. And then, for awhile, life got in the way and we totally forgot about it.

For me it’s very much an “out of sight out of mind” thing. All of our board games used to be stored on a shelf in the basement and as a result, were more likely to be forgotten. But not anymore! Our recent renovation gave us the opportunity to build a giant wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and there’s ONE WHOLE COLUMN devoted to board games. I kid ye not. (Click on the wee image on the right to see a full-sized version.) The shelf goes waaaaay back, so those awkwardly long boxes fit in there perfectly.

Family Game Night is a good thing. I’m happy to do something as a family that doesn’t involved electronics for a change. And somehow we always end up laughing our heads off. AND, don’t tell my kids this, there is SECRET LEARNING happening too. Shhhh.

There is no excuse NOT to have a family game night anymore!

Last week we played a game called Amonia. The 11-year old smoked us all. It’s an excellent word association game and players with better recall will prevail. Regardless of my big loss, I think it provided some much-needed brain exercise for me.

Last night we played Word Thief, which was fun too.

Playing Word Thief

This game is reminiscent of Scrabble. Players are dealt cards. Each one has a letter of the alphabet on them. Players use the cards to form words and earn points, but the twist here is that words can be “stolen” from other players. If someone takes an opponent’s word that person loses their points and the stealer makes a new word (or two) out of it and wins points. There are poker chips for scoring, which, oddly enough, was a big part of the appeal for the kids.

ONCE AGAIN the youngest family member walked away with another big win. Sigh. I am chalking up my loss to old brain matter okay? Or perhaps next time we should pick something harder so she can’t beat us. Hmm. Maybe Monopoly? :)

Does your family have a favourite board game? Spill it! I’d love to hear your recommendations.

15 Responses to "Revisiting Family Game Night"

1 | Tricia

January 9th, 2013 at 10:32 am


If you love board games, you should really check out this online program called “Tabletop”. They pick a game, explain the rules, and then actually play the game, so you can get a good feel for if you would like it or not. It has introduced my friends and I to some awesome new games.


2 | Sarah McCormack

January 9th, 2013 at 10:53 am


We love Scrabble UPWORDS- it’s like Scrabble but you can build on top of the words!

3 | Jennifer

January 9th, 2013 at 10:57 am


Our new favorite is ‘YUM’. It is the kids version of Yahtzee. So much fun to yell ‘YUM’ when you roll the highest! It is also a great/sneaky way to learn math skills / concepts. Even the littlest ones can play as the only real skill you need is the ability to shake and roll dice. You can even do this game DIY, as all you need is 5 dice, a cup to shake and a scorecard (you can find them online or make your own).

4 | Giulia Doyle

January 9th, 2013 at 11:02 am


As a kid we had game night. In Switzerland there are libraries (Ludothek)that only have games, so you go each week and get your board games. It was a great way to get something new and not spend the money. I find board games to be quite expensive. Can you ‘borrow’ board games here as well ?

5 | Wanda

January 9th, 2013 at 11:23 am


We Love playing board games here too. No technology, just good old sitting down as a family and having fun. We have about 20 kid relevant games and it’s hard to say which is our favourite. The kids (5 & 7) love “Don’t Wake Daddy”, “Yum” is one we enjoy too…lately the one we play most is “Clue Jr” :).

6 | Kim

January 9th, 2013 at 11:57 am


We received 3 new games this Christmas that are lots of fun. Blokus, Volcano Island Countdown, and Squarrels. The last one we picked up after reading about it on your blog!
We also enjoy Zooreeka, Scrabble, and Whoonu. I agree with you about spending time without all the electronic gadgets. There’s much more fun and laughter in our house when playing board/card games and that feeling helps us stay close as a family.

7 | Lil

January 9th, 2013 at 1:01 pm


I love family game night! While we don’t have a set night per week, we definitely make a point of fitting it in when we can. Our kids (7, 10, 12) love it too and have made a point of giving a game as a gift to relatives for Christmas so that we can all play together when we go visit. One of our current favourites is Apples to Apples – much fun and laughter go with that one (although I usually play with our youngest on a team since its a language game and requires a bit of explanation for her). We also have a lot of fun with Pictureka – great for all ages.

8 | Ginger

January 9th, 2013 at 3:31 pm


We have just started playing games with the boys. At almost 4 1/2 they are finally ready. Their grandma bought them Candy Land for Christmas and I have lost count of the number of times we have already played it. We are learning about taking turns and that you don’t get to win every single time! They also received a math bingo game which we have played many time already as well. I am looking forward to our game playing years!

9 | Lorrie Douthwright

January 9th, 2013 at 3:45 pm


Hello, my name is Lorrie and I am a boardgame addict, (and I’m trying my best to raise a couple more.)

I have a 9yr old son and a 5yr old daughter and we play a variety of games. Our current favourites are
Hey That’s My Fish, Labyrinth, Forbidden Island, Mastermind, castle Panic, Settlers of Catan, Ticket To Ride, Zooleretto, rat-a-tat-cat, Set, Hive, Mousetrap, Carcassonne, Blokus aaaand Dungeons & Dragons…Did I mention I was an addict?

i just love the social part of gaming and watching the kids develop their own strategies. Some of our games at co-op and others pit player against player, but it never seems to matter. We enjoy the games so much everyone feels like they are winning.

You’ll notice that we do not have a lot of the traditional games that many of us have grown up with on this list. I do not like random, luck heavy games like snakes and ladders and hoped my kids would not be glued to Candyland and the like. Once we started playing these games the luck games were never asked for again. Whew!

I second the mention of TableTop on youtube. It’s a great way to test drive a game. Also there is another site I quite like, http://www.the boardgamefamily.com

10 | andrea

January 9th, 2013 at 4:45 pm


GUYS. You are awesome. Thanks so much for the recommendations. I’m loving Tabletop already. What a fantastic idea!

11 | Lynn

January 9th, 2013 at 5:25 pm


We are super duper board game addicts, too. For Christmas my mom gave us Rummikub – seemingly simple, but SO addictive. It’s a lot like Rummy, but when people make a set or a sequence and lay it on the board, anyone can use it and break it up or move things around to make new sets that incorporate some of their tiles. It’s been great for the whole family.

We are also super into Dominion. It’s a card game where each person builds their own deck over time – he with the best deck wins. I could talk about Dominion all day long, so if you think you’re interested, email me :)

12 | Lorrie Douthwright

January 9th, 2013 at 10:27 pm


You might also want to check this out too

13 | Mommy Marshall

January 10th, 2013 at 10:26 am


Settlers of Catan is LOTS of fun, and my 9 year old can now play (with a little help). It’s a game composed of tiles and men. You build roads, cities, farms and cloisters, and it’s fast paced and won’t take forever, 45 minutes per game!

We also love Yahtzee, Monopoly, Twister, Memory, and the kids like Apples to Apples too.

PS: we used the tickets to the Museum of Nature and everyone loved it. The highlight was the very last thing we visited…the cave in the special rock exhibit. Thanks again!

14 | Mommy Marshall

January 10th, 2013 at 10:28 am


Oops, got my games mixed up. Carcassonne is the game I was describing, but Settlers of Catan is also good. ;)

15 | Nikki

January 10th, 2013 at 8:59 pm


I’m a board game addict. I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendations for Blokus and Settlers of Catan. I also really like Pandemic, which is a co-operative game where you work to stop a global pandemic. It’s an interesting concept and well-executed.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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