I love this time of year because there’s an extra focus on fun!
Granted, as we dove deeply into the unschooling lifestyle, we didn’t wait for holidays to pick up things the kids were interested in because we wanted them to be able to continue pursuing fun and learning when their interest was high, rather than insisting they wait until the next arbitrary holiday. Though that wasn’t a hard and fast rule either—there weren’t really any of those. Sometimes what they were interested in was more expensive and we needed time to save up. Other times they were interested in something, but it wasn’t an immediate need, so they said, “let’s put this on my list!”
Our living and learning lifestyle also meant that I kept an eye out for new things that I thought they might really enjoy—I still do that! And depending on what’s going on, maybe I bring it into our lives in the moment, or maybe I save it as a surprise for the next celebration. I love making the choices that work for us.
With the holiday season upon us, I’m reminded how much I’ve always loved hearing about the things other unschooling families have enjoyed and contemplating whether we might enjoy them as well. So I thought I’d share some of our well-loved fun and games, in case they might bring some fun and joy into your lives!
Please note that I’ve tried to make things a bit easier by including links, some of which are affiliate links. That means, at no cost to you, I make a small amount of money if you click through. If you’d rather not, please feel free to go the sites yourself and search for the item directly. No worries!
And if you have any family favourites, please share in the comments! It’d be great to have big pile of fun here for unschooling parents to browse whenever they’re looking to bring something new into their children’s lives. 🙂
Bananagrams—If you’ve been reading around here for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention Bananagrams. It’s kinda like Scrabble, but you build your own crossword and there are no turns, so you just keep working away. Lissy and I really enjoy playing as we connect and chat about things, but the game can be enjoyed even as just a set of letters to play with. Kids might enjoy lining up letters and getting you to try to pronounce their “words.” Or you could use them to play with rhyming words. Or everyone could work together to make one big crossword. I recently saw there’s also a Jumbo Bananagrams version!
Jenga—This has been a recent addition to our game-playing repertoire.
Labyrinth—Michael and I enjoyed playing this card game for a couple of years when he was younger, and then a couple of months ago Lissy came home for a visit and mentioned she had played Labyrinth recently and enjoyed it, but it was a board game! (Don’t tell her, I’ve picked up the board game version for us to play when she’s home for the holidays.)
Dominoes—When we want to play with people who prefer number games to word games, this is what we often grab or bring.
Whoonu—A fun game where you try guess other players’ favourite things. We play with newer friends to help get to know them better!
Monopoly—Michael loved Monopoly and over the years he has collected a number of editions: classic, Pokemon, Nintendo, The Simpsons, and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. And the app—can’t forget the app. Great for in the car.
Life—This is the board game the kids most often bring out to play with friends because it’s shorter than a game of Monopoly. We have The Simpsons edition, so it has the additional fun of referencing Homer’s antics!
Taboo—A really fun word guessing game where you try to get your team members to say a word, but without saying certain words that are listed on the card—because they are taboo! (That word has now lost all meaning.)
Scruples—A game of moral dilemmas. It’s not my favourite, but as teens the kids have had a lot of fun playing it with friends.
Fluxx—I picked this up last holidays for us to try and we really enjoyed it! The rules change along with the game play itself, so sometimes you think you’re behind and in the next minute you’ve won the game! LOL!
Clue—a classic game we played a LOT when the kids were younger. I was always fascinated with how Michael could win by keeping all the clues in his head—he wasn’t yet reading and didn’t want anyone to mark things for him. One year I also picked up a Harry Potter version, Mystery at Hogwarts, which has been our go to version ever since. (I’m checking that these games are still available and getting up-to-date links, and I just discovered there are some fun new editions: Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Big Band Theory!)
Apples to Apples—This game got a lot of play too for a while. I remember one summer visit to my mom’s house, along with their cousins. One evening we all played until my mom and I were exhausted and went off to bed. The five kids stayed up for hours longer and managed to play all the cards in the deck! Good times. 🙂
When I got my own Nintendo DS, the kids and I loved playing Animal Crossing together. We’d cheer each other on as we caught rare fish and bugs and filled our museums, visit each others’ towns, give each other items, and play on all the holidays to collect the special items. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the latest version and we’ve had great fun with the addition of the island!
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is also a family favourite DS game that got passed around between us all! You play as Phoenix and help him find clues, interrogate witnesses and suspects, and then represent the defendant in court. “Objection!” So much fun! I remember one summer their cousins were visiting for a few days and they created their own live Phoenix Wright case and acted it out for me—it’s was great!
I remember one year when the kids were younger, we spent a good chunk of time playing a wonderful puzzle game called Logical Journey of the Zoombinis—I just looked it up, it was released in 1996. We made such great memories that earlier this year I backed their Kickstarter campaign to update it for current technology and re-release it—and it funded! The updated version, now just called Zoombinis, was recently released on on Steam, so you too can have fun honing your problem solving skills with your children. 🙂
Mario Party—it’s Mario Party 10 for the Wii U now! I think we have every one in the series, except maybe the first. It’s our go to family video game, and I’m pretty sure we’ll play a round or two over the holidays this year. I am not known for my gaming reflexes or speed (ha!), so my favourite Mario Party moment came a couple of years ago when a mini game came up where to win, you had to be the first one to lose. And I won! I mean lost! So I won! LOL! We laughed for a long time.
And, if you’re looking for a more complex game, for months now Michael has really been enjoying Kerbal Space Program.
The point is, have fun!!
And again, if you have any family favourites you think others might enjoy, please share in the comments! 🙂