One of my kids has recently taken an interest in chess, which I found surprising as I have never shown him how to play it. Maybe he’s tried it at school or seen one of his friends play the game? We’ve played a few times, but he doesn’t like it when I take one of his pieces!
Games are great fun for all ages. They get us interacting with one another and are a brilliant way to spend time together as a family. Let’s have a look at games which you can play sitting down for both kids and adults, as well as with different sized groups. Some of these games can be played at a table, on the floor, or both.
What games can you play when you’re sitting down?
It’s useful to know some games you can play when you’re sitting down. Sometimes it’s a case of space, or a lack of it and at other times games like this help to focus in and connect with each other. There are endless games to play, plus each of us can put a twist or spin on an existing game and make it entirely different once again. Bear this in mind as you read this list of game ideas. Feel free to make them your own and adapt the rules for your friends and family.
For children and adults
Here are some games you can play as a family which are suitable for both kids and adults:
Sit in a circle and place 10-20 objects in the middle on the ground or a table. Give the kids a minute or two to look at them and try to memorise each one. Ask everyone to close their eyes and then remove one object from the centre. Tell the kids to open their eyes and guess which item you took away. Repeat as many times as you’d like. Make it more challenging and take away 2 or more items each time.
Follow the leader
Ask one person to stand in the middle of a circle of seated kids and close their eyes. Next, choose one person sitting in the circle to be the leader. Explain that when the person in the middle opens their eyes they will need to guess who the leader is. In the meantime whatever the leader does, everyone else in the circle must follow. So if the leader claps, everyone else must clap. The leader keeps changing their actions until they are identified, then swap out the person in the middle and play again. Kids love to try and figure this one out and it’s a great game to play at parties.
Steal the bacon
Steal the bacon has loads of other monikers. It’s a popular children’s game with plenty of variations to keep things interesting. Sit one kid in a chair, blindfold them and put an object underneath it (such as a small toy or book). Then challenge the other kids to steal the item under the chair without being noticed by the kid sitting on it. Every time the sitter hears a noise the sneaky kids must start again.
Board games are a good way to pass the time together and you can play them at a table or on the floor. If you have young kids you can start with classics such as Snakes and Ladders or any other simple game which involves moving around a board using a dice as they are easy to follow. There are also some kids’ versions of classic board games such a Junior Monopoly and Cluedo Junior. You may also wish to try playing chess with your son or daughter. Once they understand how each piece moves, you can explain some basic strategies (if you know some yourself!)
Try card games like UNO or Cheat that appeal to all ages. They require little set up and can entertain both small and large groups. I keep a deck of cards in the car so our family can play together during a lunch stop on a long journey or even when we are waiting for soccer practice to end for my eldest.
Ask the kids to sit in a circle or line. The first child whispers a sentence or a movie title to the first person. They in turn whisper it to the next person and so on until the last person shares what they heard out loud with the group. Often the message gets muddled along the way and it can be really funny. An alternative name for this game is ‘Chinese Whispers’.
This is such a popular game and it appeals to all ages. Just when you think there are no bricks to pull out, it’s amazing when your opponent manages to find one and put the pressure back on you! This is a great game for both young kids and adults.
This is another classic game which you can quite easily play sitting down or at a table. Pick a color and try and get 4 in a row; vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
Most kids should be able to start playing dominoes around 4 or 5. It’s a fun a game, which is fairly easy to understand, but it takes a while to start using an effective strategy and tactics. Kids also love it because you can create different shapes every time you play the game as you join the pieces together.
I used to love this game when I was younger. It’s fun to play for all ages and it’s not too hard for youngsters to understand (it gives them a basic grasp of how to understand coordinates!). The hardest bit it trying to find those pesky subs which only take up one square!
This isn’t a game I’ve ever played, but I know it’s popular. When it’s your turn, you roll five dice three times and try to achieve certain combinations. It’s a good way for younger kids to learn about scoring and numbers.
Puzzles are always a good shout. While they are usually done individually, whether it’s a crossword, word search or a Sudoku pattern, you can make a game of it but seeing who can complete a particular challenge first.
For adults and teenagers
These next set of games are probably best for adults and older kids:
Who am I?
Cut a couple of pieces of paper into 2-3 inch strips and give each player a handful and a pen. Ask them to write the name of a famous person on each one. Then collect their slips of paper in a container. Each person picks out a name without looking at it. Attach it to their forehead with masking tape or have them hold it up. Then they must guess the name on paper by asking questions to the group. When they guess correctly, another player can take a turn.
Mafia or Assassin
This is a great game for older kids, teens and adults. There are lots of ways to play mafia so agree on the rules before you start. Once I played this with a group and there were three or four different versions going on at once! Suffice to say, we had to start again with clear rules! The basic idea is that the mafia have “killed” one of the players and the others need to find out who they and some other characters are. Click here for a clear explanation of how to play.
Two truths and a lie
Sit down in a circle. Ask each person to come up with two true things and one lie about themselves. One by one ask each person to share their three statements. The rest of the group must guess which statements are true and which one is the lie. I always learn something new about someone when I play this game, plus it can be hilarious!
Large groups vs small groups – Which games work best?
Some games suit large groups better than small groups and vice versa. Prepare to adapt the rules and expectations for different ages too. Our extended family likes to play games as a large group and we find that it often helps to pair younger children up with an older child or adult. This way they can join in and still have support to follow the rules and pace of play.
Team games work well with large groups. This way everyone can participate at the same time. Here are a few ideas to try:
This is a classic game that suits large groups who can play in teams. Divide the group into as many teams as you’d like. Ask each person to write down the names of TV shows, movies or books on slips of paper, fold them up and place them in a container. The first team nominates a member to select a piece of paper, read it (but not out loud) and then act out what it says without speaking. Their teammates guess the answer and the next team takes their turn. Use a timer to make things more interesting! Here are some alternative ways to play.
Pictionary is another well loved family favourite. To play you will need pads of paper and pens. Ask each person to write down 5 things on slips of paper to put into a container. You can choose specific categories like objects or actions to guide their suggestions. Each team nominates a player. They draw a slip of paper, read what it says and must draw it for their teammates to guess. They cannot talk or act it out. This game usually gets everyone laughing!
Plan a game of trivia with questions and a winner at the end. People can make teams or play as individuals. Take a round each to lead or appoint a quiz master.
Card, dice and board games work well with smaller groups of up to 8 people. Most card, dice and board games are designed to be played with small groups. And there are a lot to choose from! Individual player games also work well with small groups. Here are a few ideas:
Silly job interview
Give each player strips of paper and a pen. Ask them to write down 5 adjectives or traits (such as invisible, super-fast, power rangers obsessive) and add them to one pile. In another, have the player write down 5 imaginary jobs (traditional jobs like postal worker and some imaginary ones like dragon tamer or wizard) and add them to a pile. The first player takes 3 traits slips and looks at them. The other player selects a job slip. The players ask them interview style questions and the interviewee answers using their trait slips as a guide. There is no winner and loser, but it can get a group laughing and is a good way of learning more about one another! This game works best with adults who know what a job interview is like.
All you need is a deck of cards and a spoon for each person. It’s fast-paced with low stakes and it’s always great fun. Here’s a video tutorial to learn how to play. Older children and adults alike will love this one.
Sit in a circle or around a table. The idea is to tell a story together, sentence by sentence. Upon their turn each person adds a sentence to the story. They can get long and very silly! This game is best suited to children aged 10 or older and adults.
Why is it important for your kids to play games?
First and foremost, playing games is fun and that’s important for kids. In addition, games help children learn to take turns and work in teams. They practise their communication skills and gain confidence as they play with others. Games test our brains too, and therefore kids get to think logically and use critical thinking skills when they play them. This all supports healthy brain development and boosts their social skills along the way.
It is also important for kids to learn it is okay to lose. Games show kids that they can have fun and enjoy themselves even when they are not the winner.
What games are the most popular?
Everyone has a personal favourite when it comes to playing games. Here is a chart showing the results of a poll conducted in 2020 on the Money Saving Expert website. Obviously this poll doesn’t take into account what games children like as virtually all the responses will be by adults. However, some of the games are suitable for kids, and as I mentioned earlier, some have junior versions which children can play e.g. Junior Monopoly and Cluedo Junior.
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Anna is a mum of three who loves exploring the outdoors with her family and border collie. She has an MA in Childhood and Youth Development.