Do’s and Don’t for Large Group Game Playing

 DSC05388Don’t plan games that make people feel uncomfortable mentally or physically

Don’t force people to participate.

Don’t allow “leaders” to choose sides.  This will lead to hurt feelings and discouragement.  At one of our family reunions we had everyone put their name in a hat and then we drew out names to make teams- what a disaster.  It took forever to get people to put their names in the hat and then everyone was so noisy they couldn’t hear whose name had been drawn.  Try this idea for choosing teams.  Line your family up tallest to smallest and count off into as many teams as needed.  If you need four teams count one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four etc.   For variation use Colors–Red-Blue, Red-Blue, etc. or by first letter of their name (not their last name if you are at a family reunion- veryone might be on the same team.)

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Another idea for separating into teams is to pass out cloth hair elastics for people to wear around their wrists to designate whose team they are on and you still keep some amount of control over whose team people are on.

Do keep the instructions for the games as simple as possible.

Do keep control of the game.  Explain the rules and demonstrate the procedure if necessary but after that stick with the rules.  Children are notorious for wanting to change the rules especially if they have played some other variation of the game before.  Explain that there are many different ways to play the game but that your family is playing it by the rules you’ve already explained.

Do have a back up plan and be ready to improvise if necessary.

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Do vary activities.  Even if your family is enjoying the game don’t let it go on too long.  The idea is to stop while everyone is at the peak of fun then waiting until interest is waning.

Do plan circle games.  To separate into two circles make one big circle then break in half, having each half become a circle of its own.

Do have more than one game leader.  If you have more than one game leader you can take turns leading the games.  That gives leaders time to prepare their props and get their game ready while the family is playing the current game.

For fun family reunion games click here.

Aunt MO

By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed

African Proverb quotes

Brain Teaser and Mind Reader Party Games

Brain teasers and Mind Reader party games are great fun! They can be used for family reunions to draw people together.  Brain Teasers make great ice breaker activities because they get everyone working and talking together to come up with a solution.  I still remember the first brain teaser I ever heard- 

ONE DAY A FATHER AND HIS SON ARE DRIVING DOWN THE STREET AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY HAVE A CAR ACCIDENT. THE FATHER DIES AND THE SON IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION. FIVE MINUTES LATER THE AMBULANCE COMES AND TAKES THE BOY TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. THE NURSE TELLS THE DOCTOR THAT THEY NEED TO DO SURGERY ON THE BOY AND THE DOCTOR SAYS, “I CANT DO THE SURGERY”  AND THE NURSE SAYS “WHY?”. THE DOCTOR SAYS, “THATS MY SON.” …WHO IS THE DOCTOR?

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That brain teaser drove me crazy and I finally asked, no begged for the answer.  You’ve probably already figured it out but just in case you need a little help- the doctor is the MOTHER!  So obvious!!

Research has long been touting the positive effects of playing brain teaser games but brain teaser games are actually fun too. Our family has several brain teaser games and activities that we can get together on a moments notice.  If we have some down time and need to find something to do we pull one of our favorite brain  teasers out of the hat and immediately have a fun activity for those that want to participate.  It doesn’t take long before some of us are pulling out our hair in frustration and others are laughing hysterically from the sidelines. Here’s a few of our favorite brain teasers  and mind reading games and activities.

Spoon Pictures Game

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At least two people will need to know how to play this game. One is sent out of the room (the mind reader), and the other remains inside to take a picture of someone. This is done by holding up a spoon or some polished surface to a player’s face. When the picture is taken, the mind reader is called in, given the spoon, told to look at it, and guess whose picture it is.  The mind reader studies the spoon and then says whose picture they see on the spoon. The mind reader leaves the room again, while another picture is taken, is called in, and guesses that, and so on.

If any family member thinks he can be the mind reader, he may have a trial, but he may fail.

The secret- the person that took the pictures sits in exactly the same position as the person whose picture was taken.  If his feet were crossed and his hands folded, the leader will take that position. If another person is in that position, the one who guesses waits until one makes a change, and thus the name can be guessed.

Chinese Silverware Reading Game
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Drop a pile of table knifes, or forks or spoons and it writes someone’s name. So your partner goes out of the room. Everyone in the room picks a person to be "IT" You then arrange the utensils in some random supposedly meaningful way. Partner walks back in looks intently at the utensils and then pronounces whose name they spell. What they are really watching is the way you are sitting because you are imitating the person who’s IT. (You could use any thing as your props- sticks, matches etc.)

Crystal Clear Game

This is a fun brain teaser game to do right before dinner, perhaps while everyone is waiting in line to get their food.  (They can think about the game as they move through the line.) Line six glasses up in a row. The odd ones are full, the even ones are empty. The object is to move only one glass, and by so doing line up three full glasses next to three empty glasses.

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Answer- Pour the contents of glass number five into glass number two and replace glass number five.

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Magic Squares Game

Once again it will necessary for two of the players to know how to  play this brain teaser game.    Arrange nine books or magazines on the floor in columns and rows of three.  Send the “magician/mind reader” out of the room.  As a group, choose one of the books or squares.  When the book is chosen, the magician is called in. Ask everyone in the room to concentrate on the chosen book.

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Begin by pointing at different squares repeatedly saying "Is it this the one?” The magician will tell him to stop when he is pointing at the correct square.

The trick is simple. The first time the accomplice points to a square, he points to the relevant part of the square to indicate where the correct item is in the grid of 9 items. So if he points to the top right of the first square, the correct item in the item is in the top right of the grid. For instance, the picture below shows us that the book is the one in the top right corner.  Keep pointing to a couple of books before pointing to the book that is “it”.

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You can vary this a bit so the accomplice shows the magician on  his second or third point if you want to. As people catch on they can become magicians and see if they get it right.

Scissors

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For this brain teaser game, all players will need to sit in a circle, and one is given a pair of scissors.  In turn, the scissors are passed around the circle, from one player to the next.  As a player passes the scissors to the next person they say either "I pass these scissors CROSSED" or "I pass these scissors UNCROSSED", and will be told if they are right or wrong.  The object is to try and find out what the rule is.  To make things more interesting, make a great play of turning the scissors around and opening and closing them.  The game continues until all have solved the mystery, or you take pity on those family members that remain clueless. 

The secret of this game has nothing to do with the scissors- it’s whether you have your legs crossed!

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“I pass these scissors open.”

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“I pass these scissors closed.”

Aunt MO

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”  ~e.e. cummings

Family Reunion Church- Discovering the Roots and Branches of Your Family Tree

Our family reunions are full of fun games, unusual activities, creative crafts and delicious things to eat but we also take time to learn about and honor our ancestors during “Family History Church”.

Most of our family history church meetings are relatively simple but we have done some amazing and memorable things. Several years ago, we included an airplane ticket to Scotland with our family reunion invitation.

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During the reunion, we made a huge “airplane” out of tents, tarps and lawn chairs and took off, in our makeshift plane, for a visit to our ancestral home. We lifted off to the sounds of recorded jet sound effects, and our flight attendants served us peanuts and pop. As we approached the halfway point, our plane developed engine problems and we crashed.

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After the crash, we were greeted by a beautiful angel dressed all in white who led us to a secluded area of our campground where we were visited by six of our ancestors who shared their life stories with us. These “ancestors” were actually family members who memorized a script and dressed in costumes from the era in which they lived.

This was a very elaborate family history church and took a lot of advance preparation but it’s an activity that family members still talk about.

Most of our family history churches are not nearly as complicated.  We always begin our family history church with a prayer and a song about family history/genealogy.

http://www.lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=2&searchseqstart=94&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=94&searchsubseqend=ZZZ

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A few years ago we began spotlighting two family members, a child and an adult. We tell a little about the person and give them a few inexpensive gifts such as their favorite candy bar or soda. The next year those spotlighted choose another person to spotlight and so on.

I have the fun opportunity of giving a family history presentation about one of our ancestors each year.  These aren’t long, boring presentations but often include games such as “Wheel of Ancestors” or “Family Feud” and other fun activities.

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We have made crossword puzzles, coloring books and word searches to help our family learn about their ancestors. We have even acted out fun family stories and experiences that make us laugh.  Everyone in the Stewart family know the story of Aunt Ann and the banana because we acted it out during our family history church.

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We value the life stories of our ancestors so much. I wish I could say that all of our family are keeping wonderful descriptive journals for their posterity but we aren’t, so for more that 20 years we have asked our family to take a few minutes to fill out a journal page at our reunion. On the journal page, they record their experiences from the past year and then Grandma stores the pages in binders in hopes that some day we will compile them into family histories. Questions that are typically asked on the journal page are- What is the best thing that happened to you this year? What is the saddest thing that happened to you this year? What was the best movie you saw this year? For a more complete list of questions and sample journal pages, please download Journal Page Samples & Question Ideas.

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Anyone who has delved into the history of their family knows that, the more information they discover about their ancestors, the more real these people become, and the more fascinating. I love to learn the stories of the people that came before me and I love to share them with my family. Family history church is a wonderful way to join the past with the present and by learning about ones ancestors, it helps us understand ourselves, our heritage and the roots and branches of our family tree.

Aunt MO

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present and future."

Author: T.S. Eliot