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The family that plays together stays together

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate statio...

Make family bonding fun with group play!

Plan a weekly party that centers around games and activities selected so that all ages can participate and share in the fun!

family playing game

Plan a regularly scheduled family fun night, and spend an evening doing an activity that everyone enjoys. Give your night some party flair: plan a game, a competition or a craft to work on together. Add in some special treats (pizza or simple finger food), gather the kids and start your fun tradition.

Classic gamesTwister

Nothing gets the competition started like a favorite board game, so choose one that's appropriate for the ages that will be playing. Monopoly, Scrabble or Uno are all fun — and with a little parental help, even younger kids can be part of the action. Teach your kids charades, and make a list of topics they'll enjoy. Just divide into teams and start acting out the clues. No kid — big or small — can resist the fun of Twister! Spin the wheel and pretzel yourself to place hands and feet on the colored dots you draw. As each player takes a turn, the squirmy, tangled twist of arms and legs gets increasingly challenging until the pile of bodies collapses in a heap of giggles. This classic Hasbro game especially delights younger kids who can use their small size to their advantage to burrow under larger players and find their mark!

Obstacle Course

In warmer weather, an obstacle course is a great backyard activity, but it also works indoors for family night. You can adjust the physical activity to fit all ages and abilities of children — and time their runs through the course. Make allowances for available space, and clear out clutter and breakables before you begin. Think in terms of challenges that make participants jump, hop, crawl over and under objects, balance and move continuously. Hang a broom between two chairs for crawling under or stepping over, throw beanbags into a laundry basket, do a ring toss, do 10 jumping jacks, skip in place while reciting a rhyme, do a handstand and somersault from one place to another. Have players blow up a balloon before racing to a chair and sitting on it until it pops! Carry an object like a ping pong ball on a spoon to a designated drop-off, or crawl under a tunnel formed by a row of chairs. There are endless variations you can include in this activity.

crafts

Family crafts

Start saving cardboard boxes to use for creating crafty fun. Big boxes can be transformed into whimsical chairs — let everyone test their inner designer! Use fabric scraps, leftover wallpaper, craft paper and imaginative trims. Make a clubhouse and let the kids decorate interior walls and exterior surfaces with markers, paints and other embellishments attached with a glue stick. Save empty cereal boxes and have a contest to style some sandals! Have each person stand on the flattened cardboard and trace around their feet. Then simply cut out the "soles" and get busy decorating. Ribbon, rickrack or even string can make the straps. Fabric, carpet or vinyl scraps can be adhered with a light brush of rubber cement. It's hilarious fun to see what everyone creates!

More tips

7 Creative family bonding ideas
Fun themes for family game night
Dr. Seuss-inspired family games

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