By Brittany Carlson

 

Want to shake up your family game nights with something new? Or, are you looking for new ways to play games with others digitally, while you’re separated due to social distancing? Here are a few non-traditional game night recommendations curated from my family and friends that you might want to try.

 

Game night in person:

We’re in week four of social distancing now, and my family has played a lot of Candyland, Sorry, Jenga and Hungry Hippos. If your kids are getting a little tired of the games you have on hand, here are a few new games to try:

Flashlight tag at home. Turn off the lights, and give the whoever is “it” a flashlight to tag players with. My friend Rachel says she likes to do this before bedtime to help her kids get all of their energy out. 

Play an escape room game, or make your own. An escape room is a series of puzzles players must solve to escape the room before time runs out. You could theme this any way you want, and scale it to the age level and ability of players. For example, you could set a puzzle out for kids to put together (or make your own by cutting a picture into puzzle pieces), ask them to build something with blocks or tiles, or give them a color-by-number sheet with hidden messages in it. Once they have the exit code, they’ve solved the puzzle. 

Treasure hunt. Hide a few items (inside or outside) and draw the kids a map to find the items. My husband did this last week with my boys (ages 5 and 2.5), and themed it to their favorite characters: Transformers. The boys used their map to find “power rings” around the yard ultimately fight Megatron (read: my husband). They immediately asked to do it again.

 

Game night, digital style:

I’ve really missed playing games with my siblings and parents, especially during the last few weeks of social distancing. We started trying to find games we could play on video platforms (like Zoom or Google Hangouts) that didn’t require specialized board games. Here are my favorites:

Dice games. These are especially good for playing with a group over video if everyone has the same set of die, such as Yahtzee or Pen the Pig (which involves rolling a pair of rubber pigs and getting/losing points depending on how they land). 

Trivia night. There are some trivia programs made for many people to play online simultaneously, such as kahoot.it or jackbox.tv. On platforms like kahoot, you can get more points for answering faster, and see how everyone’s scores stack up at the end of each question. It’s also fun video chatting while playing. 

Photo scavenger hunts. Come up with a list of things for players to find, either inside or outside, and then set everyone lose with a camera to find them. The first team with photos of themselves with each item wins! You could also play this live, by using an app like Marco Polo (which works like a “video walkie-talkie,” according to digitaltrends.com).

 

Game night has always been a staple in my family, but I feel like we need them now more than ever. Personally, I’ve found that having fun and making new memories together helps my family feel calmer and better able to take on the obstacles that come our way. Hopefully, these ideas can help your family as you try to stay connected during challenging times.

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Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and has two sons, Adam (4) and James (2). She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

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