Family Game Night Ideas

Forget the TV- grab some fun, hands-on games and hangout with your family! If you have a toddler, this is the perfect time to introduce board games, cards and anything that uses their imagination! In this episode, our parents chat about what games their kids like the most and how family game nights are creating awesome memories for their kiddos (and some pretty funny inside jokes too)!

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Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
Family Game Night Ideas

Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: As babies get older, and become toddlers, the possibilities to play begin to open up. Instead of abstract play in short bursts, attention spans and coordination mean longer and more complex play is possible. For families that love to play together, toddlerhood is the perfect time to start playing board games and other more organized games. I'm Johner Riehl, dad of three boys, and today we are talking about tips and ideas for family game night. This is Parent Savers.

[Intro/Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome everybody to parent savers. We’re just singing the theme song there, is that what you were doing?

SUNNY GAULT: Yes I was. Tu, tu, do

JOHNER RIEHL: Broadcasting from the Birth Education center of San Diego, Parent Savers is your online, on-the-go support group for parents with infants and toddlers. I'm your host, Johner Riehl. As I said, we are recording in the Birth Education in San Diego. It happens to be the Miramar Air Show, so from time to time you might hear the sound of freedom overhead.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh, is that what that is?


SUNNY GAULT: I thought those were planes interfering.

JOHNER RIEHL: As the jets screech by. But, I want to check. Have you guys subscribed to the Parent Savers newsletter? It's a great way to learn about new episodes. You can also subscribe to our podcast through iTunes or Sticher and have new episodes automatically download to your device. You can listen to our shows through our parent savers app, available on Android, iOS and Windows. And we also have a new network app, where you can easily listen to all the new Mommy Media podcasts. Easy for me to say. Of course, all our apps are free and you can find direct links on our website at ! Now, Sunny, our head mom at New Mommy Media is going to tell us all about some cool ways you can become involved with the show.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so we have a couple of segments I think you guys will like. In just a couple of minute, we are going to talk about an app that we really like. And we want to hear from you guys as far as what apps do you guys use with your kiddos. We're kind of looking at the age range from 2 and 5. So, if there are some apps that your kiddos just love, tell us about it we'll talk about it on the show and we'll tell other parents about it. So, that's a cool way you can get involved. We have a fun segment that is called "Parenting Oops!" where we like to share out funny parenting stories with our kiddos, and then you can ask our experts questions, too. So, could be an expert from a previous episode, or we've got a whole group of experts on the website that are just waiting for you to ask them questions. That's what they do, day in and day out, they just wait for your questions. Forget the regular patients, they are just listening for you.


SUNNY GAULT: So, anyways, if you want to submit to any of those segments, you can go to our website to the contact link and submit via email, or you can post it on Facebook, we are always checking that. And another great way, if you want to actually tell your story yourself or ask the question yourself with your own voice, you can call our voicemail, which the number for that is 619-866-4775 and what’s great about that is that no one is going to pick up, that is strictly a voice mail line. So you don't have to deal with any weird, awkward moments. It's just you leaving the message and then we'll play that on a future episode.

JOHNER RIEHL: Awesome, so many cool ways to connect and not have to really talk to someone.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s right. If you're just like 'I just don't want to talk to Sunny' that's a good way to do it.

JOHNER RIEHL: Great, alright, so today we've got a roundtable discussion. And so it's myself, I'm Johner, I'm 41, dad of 3 boys, we have an eight year old, a six year old, and a four year old and we love playing games together. We do play board games together, we sometimes play video games together as well, and also do pretend play and all sorts of stuff. Love playing together, love having fun with them.

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so I'm Sunny, owner of New Mommy Media, and I'm 37 I believe. I believe. I do have four kids of my own. My oldest is five, a boy, and a three year old boy, and then twin girls who are almost two. I have to say, it's really my five year old that spurs the game nights with us. We've tried to kind of instigate it on our own, but really you know, my husband and I, we like playing games, but you know, how life takes over and there's so many things, other things that you know, you think you need to be doing. But it’s really our five year old that keeps us grounded and is always bringing up different games. We have a game drawer that we pull stuff from, I can share later on in the episode about the different things we like to do. But yeah, yeah I have to give my five year old credit for it. He really keeps us on track.

JOHNER RIEHL: Nice, and it’s hard to say no, when they say, they want to play a game.

SUNNY GAULT: Right, you know, and then, they’re, he’s learning, and I'm like oh, this has developmental.


SUNNY GAULT: Benefits, so whatever.

ALICIA BRAVO: I am Alicia. I'm a mom of four, I’m a huge game night fan, even before I had children. I was always doing game nights with friends. I had the standing Friday night game night at my house for many years because I am just a huge fan of these group games that gets everyone active and involved. My kids right now are ten and eight, those are girls, and six and three, those are my boys. I'm lucky because they are all at ages that they can play some games, but they have all been playing some games since the second they could.

JOHNER RIEHL: That's awesome, and I think that it should be a great conversation and you know, I love playing games even before we had kids. It's interesting, I still have some games that are kind of on pause that maybe we'll get back to in a few years. Like, for now.

ALICIA BRAVO: Yes, oh I pull those out after the kids have gone to bed and people are over. And, you said, you mentioned game drawer, our entire hallway wall closet is all games. It's a mix of board games and fun, like big activity games and we love it.

JOHNER RIEHL: That's awesome. That's great.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Alright, before we get started with the conversation, we're going to talk about an app. It's actually a really fun app. It plays right into the theme of our show. The app is called 'Heads up Pictures' and it’s from Warner Brothers, and its 99 cents. You guys may have heard of 'Heads up'. There is actually a board game 'Heads up' as well where you put cards up on the head and it’s got words on it.

ALICIA BRAVO: That's Head Bands.

JOHNER RIEHL: Oh, got it Head Bands.


JOHNER RIEHL: And head, Heads up, it's the same sort of idea, that’s right, Head Bands.


JOHNER RIEHL: And so Heads up is a little like that, except you use your device. In the Heads up pictures, what's really cool about it is it uses pictures. So it makes it a lot more accessible to people and people who can't read, like Toddlers, for example, that can recognize the pictures but can't necessarily read the words. This game is hilarious. So what happens is, we were just playing here in the studio, and we actually will post the video of that as well, because that's one of the built in things. But you put the device on your head, a picture comes up, and then the other people in the room try to get you to guess what’s on it, and you can't see it. You get it right, you tilt it forward and if you want to pass you can put it backwards. It records the whole time that they are talking to you, so it's actually a really fun and funny thing and something that kids love too, because they love seeing themselves on camera.

ALICIA BRAVO: Exactly, they love being recorded. So this is perfect.

JOHNER RIEHL: So what did you guys think about it, having played it?

ALICIA BRAVO: Oh, I loved it. I think it’s perfect for kids. Kids see other people playing this game with the words and they can't read it so they can't be involved, so the fact that there's now a version that allows them to be involved is so exciting to them. And anything that is made for them to access it, makes it even more exciting.

JOHNER RIEHL: Totally, and the videos are just icing on the cake. So, it's a 99 cent app, and with that you get like 5 decks. One of them you can customize yourself, go around and take some of your own pictures. But then you do have the option to buy additional decks for 99 cents each, and so I mean, it could add up. If you bought all the decks you probably be spending 10-15 bucks. But, if you think about it, you'd spend that on a board game.




JOHNER RIEHL: You'd be happy to spend that on a board game.



JOHNER RIEHL: Ooh, you got a $10 board game. So if you put it in context, it's not that bad. The app economy is so weird. You feel bad that it's 99 cents sometimes for each of those, but it’s a really, really great deal and some of them are topics that you really like then it’s totally worth it. And you can also download the one that lets you customize and build your own deck, so, that’s 99 cents. And then you can go around and with your toddlers, things that they recognize, their toys, maybe action figures, or things they like, even the octonauts, they're really into the octonauts.

SUNNY GAULT: We love the octonauts in our house.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, exactly. You got like the barnacles, and the claws and they can be named like the Gub backs and the Gub D and all the different

SUNNY GAULT: I am like, oh, you're way too involved because I don't know enough of that.

JOHNER RIEHL: Alright. Okay, we aregetting more into the octonauts, hypothetically speaking okay, about the octonauts.

ALICIA BRAVO: And you can take it with you.


JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, exactly.

ALICIA BRAVO: So you're waiting in the line at the grocery store


ALICIA BRAVO: Or the department store.


ALICIA BRAVO: It’s the hardest time for them to stay with you and behave then they are distracted and they don't even notice the wait.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, and what I loved about it is my five year old has, he has been going to speech for a few years now and what I love about this too is that it kind of forces him to think on his feet, use his own words, and I kind of like the timer too because sometimes I’m like "OK, what are you trying to say, spit it out" kind of thing, and I feel like this could actually be a nice learning tool for him and he recognizes something and he has going to kind of make it very descriptive okay, and try to you know, get other people to guess what the item is, and I actually think it could really help him with his, with his speech.

JOHNER RIEHL: Same with spouses too. Sometimes spouses need to spit out the word

ALICIA BRAVO: I wouldn't say that if I were you.

JOHNER RIEHL: Hypothetically speaking, of course.

ALICIA BRAVO: Not yours, right?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah of course not.

SUNNY GAULT: Of course not.

JOHNER RIEHL: Anyways, it’s a really cool app, we love it, 99 cents, we'll have a link to it on the website, it's called 'Heads up Pictures'. Definitely check it out.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back everybody to Parent Savers. Today, we're talking about family game night with our round table here with Me, Sunny, and Alicia. Welcome everybody to the conversation.


JOHNER RIEHL: So, at what age, you talked about your kids being able to play from the first second that they could, Alicia. Like what age would you say they were able to start playing games with your family?

ALICIA BRAVO: My oldest probably started around two. I remember, I think it was for her second birthday, she got one of those memory games. Now, I will admit, at that age, I always changed the rules. I'm not going to follow the rules on the box, they can't do that.


ALICIA BRAVO: So, I adapt that to whatever their level is right then. I remember with that memory game is that we would, is lay them all out, and you know you start by picking two, and if they don't match you put them back, well you pick two and if they didn’t match, whichever one you wanted you could leave up, and then put the other one down so that you pick two more and hopefully get a match. And so she at least had a chance to get a match, because the memory skills of course aren't there. But, it did build her memory skills for later on, just even adjusting the rules a little bit definitely paid off.

JOHNER RIEHL: That's awesome. Yeah I-memory is such a great early game and it, I mean underscores and you see it in a lot of things that- their- these kids are really smart.


JOHNER RIEHL: Even at a very young age and even if they can’t fully communicate and express it you can really see their brain development and how smart they are in a game like memory where you see them remembering things and where objects are, even if you're tweaking the rules.

ALICIA BRAVO: She used to amaze me, she was into Princesses, Disney Princesses, and so it was all princesses, there's only you know, like six or whatever that come out on these games, and so they were in different positions and stuff so she would pick two up and I'd say "Oh, you got two Cinderella’s!" and she'd say "Oh, no, this Cinderella is not smiling and this Cinderella is really happy." Like she would notice the little differences between the two to know they didn't match, which was really good too.

JOHNER RIEHL: That is awesome. That's really cool. So as we have started playing games, there are some games that I know our families really liked. And one of them that's always ahead and continues to be, and that's cool because young kids can play, is Apples to Apples: Picture Edition. They have, many of you may be familiar with Apples to Apples, where they have they words written out, and there's the adult spin offs of certain games that are not kid appropriate for family game night, but they have, and it's similar I think, to the heads up game that we talked about the app, Apples to Apples Pictures.
And so, the way that that game works is that, I don't know if you've played, but there's a judge that sits the table, so they have to judge a word like 'sad' or 'hilarious' or 'smart' and then everyone plays a picture card and then the judge decided which one fits it. So even young kids can look at pictures if you tell them what the word is and even if they play a crazy card, they still have a chance to win, the way that the game is set up, and, but also when they are the judge, they love having the power and then you have to remember that they're the judge and then what's my two-and-a-half-year-old going to think is smart.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh, yeah.


JOHNER RIEHL: And you can’t throw one. So I think that having the older kids have had us expose some our kids at a younger age to games. That's been a really big success that we found has been able to work with young kids. Have you seen any more games like that that you guys are playing now?

ALICIA BRAVO: You know, a lot of the ones that we used were the typical young kid, the candy land games, where they learned map shapes, or not shapes, but colors.


ALICIA BRAVO: Anything that they are learning something they get excited about, so.

JOHNER RIEHL: You know what they have now for Candy Land now is a spinner. Because the thing with Candy Land is you see these freaking cards all over the place with like a double orange or, they want to cheat so they came up with one that's a spinner now, so.

ALICIA BRAVO: Wow, I still have the old school one. In fact, I think I have the themed ones, you know, I might have the Disneyland version or something, but yeah.

JOHNER RIEHL: Very sensitive. Candy land is great though, because it really is teaching some really easy counting, but I feel like it also teaches cheating because the kids, they want so bad to just like "you don't go a lot, and I'm going to like three." Maybe it's just my kids, but they go. And, but you do have this line then, where when you're playing with your kids and you're talking about bending the rules is how much because you love them, and they're the apple of your eye, do you just be like "yes, sweetheart, you can go 8 oranges now and I'll go 1" and how much do you enforce the rules on them?

SUNNY GAULT: I'm pretty strict on the rules, actually. Not, not necessarily, like, we were talking about earlier, you know, you have to go with the rules that came with the game, I'm not a big, like stickler on that, but whatever the rules are.


SUNNY GAULT: I feel like if I start you know, like, some sort of precedence, like "Oh, you don't need to follow the rules" then that’s going to somehow carry with them and then I'm never going to want to play games with them later.

ALICIA BRAVO: Exactly. I was lucky because my first daughter was, she is a complete rule follower, like she gets anxious if she’s not doing what she thinks she's supposed to. However, my second daughter, is the biggest cheater in the world and the worst sore loser. And, so I have one who is like following the rules and one who is like breaking every rule and trying to keep them working together in a game



ALICIA BRAVO: Is very challenging at that.

JOHNER RIEHL: But that's one of the skills that the game teaches. And I know for our family, for me, it’s more about the playing as having fun, but there also are lines of winning and losing that board games can kind of start teaching.

ALICIA BRAVO: And they have to learn them.

JOHNER RIEHL: And dealing with losing. And you- and they have to. The kids have to learn how to accept defeat, that you're not always going to win, but they want to win so bad. But there has been some epic tantrums in my house for not winning.

SUNNY GAULT: My six-year-old, my son who just turned six, Battleship is big in our house, he gets so upset if he is getting all of these hits on ships and then someone wins because they sink just his battleship. He just thinks that it is so unfair that you have to sink just one of his.

JOHNER RIEHL: Wait, is that a rule?

SUNNY GAULT: Apparently so, I never know this until recently.

JOHNER RIEHL: Wait, I never knew

ALICIA BRAVO: I don't know the game

JOHNER RIEHL: Okay, wait is that a rule that you can sink just the battleship?

SUNNY GAULT: From what I learned recently, yes. If you just sink the battleship then, you've won the game

JOHNER RIEHL: Oh, that's crazy.


JOHNER RIEHL: I always thought you had to sink the whole fleet.


JOHNER RIEHL: Interesting twist to the game. That would frustrate me too.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, he goes crazy, because he’s like, "I’m hitting all of these ships of yours, and I'm not winning, and you've got one of mine".

JOHNER RIEHL: Alright, so before we talk about a few more games, let’s talk about the keys to a successful family game night and what it looks like maybe in your guys' house. Have you guys done it a little bit with Sayer?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, no we've done it and we've tried to incorporate Urban, my three year old as well, but we have to do it after the babies are in bed or.

JOHNER RIEHL: Step 1: Get the twins out of the picture.

SUNNY GAULT: Get the twins out of the picture, at least until they're older. Yeah, they need to be in bed. But yeah so, um, and they're both, you know, Sayer is definitely more interested in games and
Urban is at the age where he just wants to do whatever his brother does.


SUNNY GAULT: But I don't know, what really constitutes for a family game night? I mean, we'll play a couple of games, I don't know if I would consider, like we don't have a regular day that we do it or anything like that.


SUNNY GAULT: It’s more just.

JOHNER RIEHL: I think it’s anytime that the whole family is willing to put aside


JOHNER RIEHL: Any of the other stupid stuff, family stuff that they're dealing with.


JOHNER RIEHL: Or stupid, like work, like work, stupid work.

SUNNY GAULT: Stupid work.

JOHNER RIEHL: But put aside all these other concerns, put aside volunteering in the classroom, or whatever and say “we're all going to sit, focus and enjoy the time with each other and play”, and to me that's what family game night means.

ALICIA BRAVO: And I don't think it can necessarily be a certain day of the week when you’re with family. It’s just whenever the opportunity presents itself, it's like "hey, wait we have a few hours”.


ALICIA BRAVO: “Let's not watch a movie, which a lot of people do, let's pull out the games.”


ALICIA BRAVO: “And see what we can get done." and I know my kids, even from very small, we had scrabble junior, which has one side of the board where the letters are on the board, and so what they do Is, they find the letters in their little group and they can put thaton the board. So they don't have to be able to spell to play scrabble junior. You can flip the board and then it's empty, but on the one side.
And I just remembered another one that my kids love, it's called Sequence, which you can play from a very young age because it's all picture based, and you get, it’s kind of like Connect Four, but its pictures of animals. And as you play your cards, you get to put tokens on those animals and your strategy is to get, I believe it's like a Connect Four. But, and the reason I don't know too much about it is my kids play with it just themselves, which is so nice to have a game that they can do on their own.


ALICIA BRAVO: Without parent involvement.

SUNNY GAULT: Because then its building- team building for them and I do know that's a really popular one in our house.

JOHNER RIEHL: Nice. For us, what will happen a lot is, the kids will sometimes usually, if they do play by themselves, they may never pick it up and then there is lost pieces and stuff like that. So when we're playing as a family, we like to play at the dining room table, the table where we eat. Everything is nice and clean. Sometimes we'll even like, do the bedtime routine like, with the take baths or showers and put on pajamas and stuff and get nice and comfy and cozy.

SUNNY GAULT: That's how you bribe them, too. Say “If everyone does their baths really fast, we do game night.”

JOHNER RIEHL: Exactly, and then they’ll go pretty fast. And then usually it's good, I mean, it'll be after we eat, full tummies, you know, everyone is ready for bed but excited to play, and we'll maybe do snacks and stuffs too. Obviously not crazy sugary snacks, but maybe make some popcorn or something like that. And I think each time, and maybe this is a problem, each time we try to make it like it's a really cool special time as opposed to just doing it on the side, and I can see the benefits for doing both, but for family game night we try to make it special.

SUNNY GAULT: So do you have specific nights you do it, or no, you don’t?

JOHNER RIEHL: No. What we do is, we have every Friday night, is sort of supposed to be family night, and usually it's like pizza and movie night.


JOHNER RIEHL: But that can change, that can also be pizza and family game night.


JOHNER RIEHL: Sort of option. But then sometimes things come up on Friday night too.


JOHNER RIEHL: That’s the nature of the evolving . . .

SUNNY GAULT: The beast.



JOHNER RIEHL: But, what other tips do you guys have for like a family game night? Like turning off the T.V. or

ALICIA BRAVO: Yes, well our T.V. tends to be is off all the time, so.

JOHNER RIEHL: Sometimes, sometimes like Ninja go is playing in the background. So we turn it off. Put away the phone for sure.



JOHNER RIEHL: And really just be able to focus on everything for family game night.

ALICIA BRAVO: I think that's a- and I think I probably, tend to do the opposite rather than make it a big deal, I kind of make it a normal thing. We want the family time and those types of things to just kind of be part of life.


ALICIA BRAVO: Rather than- Yeah exactly, and so it’s, like I said, if the opportunity arises, and I’m like wait a second, we're done with everything, lets like you said, get baths done and play some games they're so excited and it happens so infrequently, especially large families when you're everywhere all the time, it happens so infrequently that it means a lot to them even if it’s not something that we planned and they looked forward to for a few days, so. And for weeks, they'll talk about it. "When are we going to do the next game night? When are we going to do the next game night?"

SUNNY GAULT: Games with the kids, and that’s really great. The only thing I struggle with is that they pretty much do it every night, and I’m left with like, you know after we do it for a while, then I’m just like "oh they're totally going to expect this, you know all the time. And, so, then I feel like there is this anticipation, and then after my parents leave I'm like "sorry guys we're going back to regular life". I always have this like downer, like.

ALICIA BRAVO: But they're good at keeping things in boxes, so the problem is every time your parents come.


ALICIA BRAVO: They're going to expect that from them.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, exactly.

ALICIA BRAVO: Maybe not expect it from you.

JOHNER RIEHL: But I think that's one of the cool things about games. It’s a great way, especially if your grandparents are out of town, it's a really cool way to be participating in an activity that everyone is engaging in and you get to see everyone’s personalities.


JOHNER RIEHL: Especially with out-of-town grandparents.


JOHNER RIEHL: They're different kids every time they come.

SUNNY GAULT: It’s true.

JOHNER RIEHL: And so to be able to play games, and it's cool that they like to play that. It's a really good way to be connecting and not just being next to each other and watching a movie, but instead.

SUNNY GAULT: Right, right.

JOHNER RIEHL: And I mean without fail, every time that we play a game together, one of our kids will say something or do something that will just crack us up.

SUNNY GAULT: Right, and they become like an inside joke.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right, and then it’s just it’s making family traditions and it’s great. Alright, so let’s talk about some more specific games after the break, take a quick here and then come back and talk about some games, some more recommendations of games you can play as a family. Do you know you can listen to episodes of Parent Savers anytime, anywhere? Just download the apps, available on iTunes and the Amazon App Store. My mommy listen’s to her smartphone while she’s pushing my stroller on morning walks. She said the show had saved her sanity. Sounds pretty important. My mommy is also a member of the Parent Savers club so she can listen to all the episodes; get extra bonus content, discounts and more. Take my mommy’s advice and visit today.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back everybody, we're talking about family game night and some cool games and activities to play with your family. So let’s talk about some more games that are fun to play. We've got this one game, I think we got it as a present, and I would totally recommend it and It's called Find The Sock Monkey. Have you guys heard of it?

SUNNY GAULT: I have never heard of it.

JOHNER RIEHL: So what it is, it’s a game that comes with a little, a tiny sock money, kind of stuffy, the board is the house.


JOHNER RIEHL: The whole house that you're in. So one player goes, and hides the sock monkey in any room in the house and the only rule is that it has to visible. It can't be totally hidden. So if you're going to put it in a drawer, the drawer would have to be open a little bit and you can see the sock money right? It’s super fun because then, when it’s your turn you turn over a card and it’s a question like, "Is it in a room with a couch?" So you're asking the hider like "ok, is it in the room with a couch? No okay. Is it in a room with a bed, is it a room with a mirror, is it in a room with a window, and then you start narrowing it down where it might be, the ‘yes’s and the ‘no’s and then there’s a timer of like a minute. So when it, it, okay, you have a minute to go find the sock monkey based on what you know. And then the kids are running through the house and trying to find the sock monkey and then it’s a neat game because we like it because it’s sort of its active and it’s playing a game and it gets the kids running round the house

ALICIA BRAVO: So whoever finds the sock money gets to hide it?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, then are the one who gets to hide it next and then it goes back and there’s like, the cards and stuff like that. That's a cool game that you can play with, the only trick is that the younger kids sometimes need a helper to hide it because they don't always remember all the details about the room or they might be like, “Is it in a room with a bed?” “No silly it’s in the kitchen.” Like, alright. But then those are the kind of things that you roll with.


JOHNER RIEHL: What are some other games you guys can think of that you like?

SUNNY GAULT: We have a game, that’s called “left, right, center”. Have you guys heard of this? What I love about this is that it's so portable and it’s such an easy game to play, and especially if your kids are of the age where you're trying to teach them directional type stuff, it works really well. But it's a dice game and then it has like those little chips like if you had a bingo game, or something like that, little round chips that come with it. Ours came in like, well we have a couple different versions of it, but one came in like a small little rectangle box that’s in a- like in a jewelry box kind of thing. The other one came in a like a tube, regardless, it’s really portable. And so the dice, there's 3 dice, and all sides it could have an L, R, or C, so, for left, right, or center. So you roll the dice and everyone starts with three chips in front of them and you roll the dice, and if it says you know, you've got 3 dice so if one says left, one says right and one says center, well then you pass one of your chips to the left, to the person to the left of you, one to the right, and one goes in the center, kind of like a center pot, okay and you go around the room, and you keep doing this, and the goal is that sooner or later, it’s going to come to a point where there’s a ton of chips in the center and there’s only a few people left, right, and the goal is to the be the last one standing, with you know.

JOHNER RIEHL: The last one with chips

SUNNY GAULT: With chips, standing. It has taught both my kids to their directions, like left and right.

JOHNER RIEHL: That's amazing

SUNNY GAULT: The stuff that I still struggle with.


SUNNY GAULT: They're like “mom it’s to your left”, and this is my five year old, and I’m like “wait, I write with my right hand, ok left.”

JOHNER RIEHL: That's hilarious.

SUNNY GAULT: I still struggle with it but he loves playing it, so.

JOHNER RIEHL: That's awesome

SUNNY GAULT: They may be gamblers one day, rolling the die as they're going to Vegas.

JOHNER RIEHL: Give me a hard C.

SUNNY GAULT: Hard C? Yeah. But its fun, they love it.


ALICIA BRAVO: I would say that the favorite of our house is Pictionary still.


ALICIA BRAVO: Which it has been out for what, 30, 35 years something like that. It's one of my favorites and definitely a favorite among my kids. So what happens with, well my 3 year old doesn’t get into this so much but my six year old has been playing it for a while and what happens because you're on teams, you're able to have someone tell the nonreader what the word is. And we adjust, of course, if it’s a word they can't do. We have the Pictionary Junior version, but even so if it’s something that it’s more than he can handle we just pick a different word on the card or something that he can do. With my 3 year old is Head Bands, definitely. He’s been playing it since before he was 2, he was 1.5 when we got it. All of us get involved, grandparents get involved, everyone can play Head Bands, and I swear there must be 50 of those bands in the thing to make it as big as possible. And again, when it’s my youngest' turn, one of the other kids sits with him and give him ideas of questions off the question card and sometimes they go write it down or him other questions or they’ll ask leading questions, like they’ll say, "oh ask them this" and it really pin points who his character is, but, which is very cool because you have an older sibling helping a younger sibling instead of competing with them. So that we play a lot, and then the other one my daughter, my oldest got the Disneyland monopoly that when you open it up the castle pops up, it’s humongous.


ALICIA BRAVO: And everything around it is based on Disneyland, and of course because kids love Disneyland but we adjust the rules so much on that, like we pass out all the cards and all that, but the little one, as long as he’s rolling the nice and moving his little thing, that's the only he cares about. He doesn’t care about the money part of it, or


ALICIA BRAVO: He, that's his part. Everybody else does the actual money exchanging, things like that. My son who just turned 6 has been handling the money for, I don't know, over six months, which is a great tool for him to have, and the little guy just rolls his dice and moves his little thing and then its someone else’s turn. So, like I said.


ALICIA BRAVO: I just adjust the rules for whoever is playing.

JOHNER RIEHL: One of the games that we've been able to play, with even with like two year olds, is Hullabaloo. Have you guys have played Hullabaloo? Not the musician, but this is one- there’re these portable little mats. There’s like this red triangles, yellow squares, and they all have images on it, maybe it’s like spaghetti, or, a musical instrument, and there's probably about 15-20 of these things that you scatter around whatever room you're playing in. There's like a speaker deck, and it’s like, "Hello everybody" and it’s like a recorded voice. "Time to play Hullabaloo. Everyone stand on a yellow pad." And so there these 4 yellow pads, everyone goes. "Everyone go to a musical instrument", and you're looking at what the pictures are, it’s got the pictures and the words. There might be silly things, like "slither like a snake to a green one!"

SUNNY GAULT: Oh my gosh.

JOHNER RIEHL: And then it'll end up on one of the shapes or the things, and like, "Alright, is anybody on the guitar?" and then if the guitar, it’s like "you win! Do a dance!" and then it goes into a new one. It's one of those that it’s just verbal instruction, game after game, and it's areally, really fun game, especially even for the young kids.

SUNNY GAULT: Sounds like it

JOHNER RIEHL: It's called Hullabaloo, that's a fun one. We've also been able to really enjoy playing with young kids a game called Picture Charades.


JOHNER RIEHL: Obviously, but, you have to get like a special deck.


JOHNER RIEHL: Or do a lot of preparation. A lot of times you can play Charades yourself by writing down words, but kids can't read and we're probably not that good of artists. May be you guys are playing Charades.

SUNNY GAULT: And the desk is only like a dollar. In the dollar bin.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, and its pictures that kids can understand. The one that we have has three categories. I think it’s an object, an animal, or an action. One of the hilarious things about this is seeing the young kids like, even as young as like the three year old, but even like the six year old or 8 year old sometimes does it, if the clue is a table, they'll just be like “ok, ready go.”

SUNNY GAULT: Just click.

JOHNER RIEHL: And they’ll just. No, no they'll get just get on the ground and not move.


JOHNER RIEHL: And just be like "do you guys know what I am, do you guys know what I am?"

SUNNY GAULT: And they get so frustrated.

JOHNER RIEHL: Because to them they're being a table. And like, you have to end up like sort teaching them like "what would people do with a table?"


JOHNER RIEHL: But they're like, “I’m a bathtub, why can't you see I’m sitting here being a bathtub?” Or like an animal, they’ll be like sitting there “I’m a frog, you know?” But it’s super cute, and it’s one of those things that- you guys are laughing, but imagine doing it.


JOHNER RIEHL: It’s hilarious and so much fun to play Picture Charades with kids, and even super young kids can do it. Like they can pretend they're swimming, or flying like a bee, but there's some really funny parts too.

ALICIA BRAVO: As soon as you mentioned the game, the first thing that I thought of was my oldest, when she was being a tree just standing there, like "I’m a tree", but my youngest, my 3 year old, every card he gets it’s like a dance. Like everything is the same thing. He’s like, “Look, I’m a tiger”, dancing around, in the same dance. Oh, like“now I’m the television.”

JOHNER RIEHL: But it's so funny

ALICIA BRAVO: You just have to be creative with you guesses.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, and you can usually narrow them down too. They get so excited, I mean, and they wait their turn, sometimes there will be a little arguing, but they get really excited about it. We've also played “Jenga with the kids”, even really young and obviously the younger ones.

SUNNY GAULT: That's impressive

JOHNER RIEHL: But you know, just the whole idea of taking something, we can help them put it on the top, even that can go really young. And they think it’s hilarious when it falls down.

ALICIA BRAVO: And even aside from really, really young, it’s great as soon as they're around four. It’s great for them to have that strategy thinking.


ALICIA BRAVO: And with most games they can't do that, they’re too mature for them. Jenga is perfect from, from a young age.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah. So how do you- do you have any other games you were thinking of, Sunny?

SUNNY GAULT: You know, we don't have it on the list, but it kind of goes along, I guess with puzzles. I know card games. We do card games with the kids.

JOHNER RIEHL: Of course.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah. We do love “old maid”, I know it’s so old school but like they've come up with some pretty funny old maid cards, so. But that's good for matching you know, and you know, stuff like that. Then also trying to work on your kids' poker face, because it’s just so hysterical when one of my kids gets the old maid and it’s like "oh man!!!"

JOHNER RIEHL: Right, yeah.

SUNNY GAULT: I'm like 'seriously?' or when he’s just kind of looking and smiling and you know that he got it anyway. So, yeah, we do some stuff like that.

JOHNER RIEHL: Uno is a big hit for us, Uno has been

SUNNY GAULT: Oh yeah, Uno is big in our house.

JOHNER RIEHL: The weirdest thing about Uno is they have all these weird Uno decks now.




JOHNER RIEHL: That are like, somehow we got Batman Uno and you're like "wait, what card is this? What’s going on?" and there's like a different wild card, so we ended up going back to just get like we just want normal Uno.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, I know.

JOHNER RIEHL: Especially for my young kids, I would get that, maybe the batman deck or the superman deck would excite them, but try to play normal Uno, because then it helps with the numbers and the colors.


ALICIA BRAVO: Yes. And Uno is so popular at my house, we actually have two put together as one, because my kids can

SUNNY GAULT: Oh we do that too.


ALICIA BRAVO: My girls can play that forever, but like you said, card games are really popular and one thing that I've noticed- the older kids will play the older games but they will get the younger one involved by playing War and then he’s going.

JOHNER RIEHL: They love it

ALICIA BRAVO: They take out the face cards so he doesn't have to figure that out. But they leave the aces. But then there're showing them like "this one has 9, so it has more than this one that has 4." so he’s only 3 years old and he’s learning more vs. less. They did that own their own.I watched them one day and I’m like "I'm not getting involved in this!" This is what you dream of as a parent.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s awesome. Yeah, war is another one. So, we've talked a lot about board games though and buying things, but I know there are some other games that I know we play, and maybe you guys to, that don't involve buying board games and stuff like that. So, family game night does not have to be about "hey I just spend $10 on this app" or "$25 on this game", and certainly they're fun, and if you can hear this laughter that we're talking about thinking about playing these games. But there are other that we, I am happy to share. The other night after dinner, so I don’t think this falls under family game night, but I think if we did it for family game night the kids would love it. If you put your, you put a thumbs up with one hand and a thumbs down with the other hand, and kind of put them together and grab the thumbs, it’s like, you've got 2 fists on top of each other and you don't know if you're going to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. So then we go around the table and ask questions, like "who had fun day at school today?" or like "who wants to go to Lego Land?" Thumbs up, thumbs down. 1, 2, 3, thumbs up. Or "who likes polar bears?" Thumbs up or thumbs down. And you keep going around, and everyone gets a turn to ask questions and you keep going and usually something hilarious stuff is going to happen and it doesn’t cost any money.

SUNNY GAULT: Did you make that up?

JOHNER RIEHL: We did make that one up.

SUNNY GAULT: That's so cool, you should brand that.

JOHNER RIEHL: That's right, yeah. This is our first use right here if you're trying to steal our idea, copyright people. Another game that we play is like a story game. And we do it now with just, like go around the table and everyone says like one word. Like if I were going to do it here, I would say "the".

SUNNY GAULT: Oh, we do sentences. Fish.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, you do sentences. The fish




JOHNER RIEHL: Eggs, exactly. And then you go and then right? That's another really fun thing you could do, go around, you can also that with sentences, right? "The fish ate some eggs."

SUNNY GAULT: The kids love that because they try and trick each other. They give them a really random sentence to follow, so of course my 3 year old, they'll be on a theme and they'll be talking about the fish eating, and he'll say "the gorilla jumps!" and so then they have to take it that way, because he changed it. We love that game. It’s so fun.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, it’s really fun to sort of get the imagination going. Then there is the classic I-Spy. I think a lot of people have done that, especially with their really young kids is spying something in the room that is a certain color.

ALICIA BRAVO: And then they change it 12 times because they don't want you to guess it

SUNNY GAULT: It’s like "no you going to keep the same one!"

ALICIA BRAVO: Yeah. Like you're naming everything black in the room because, the other thing I’ve taught my kids is not to look at what they want you to say, because they'll look at the picture on the wall and say "I spy something blue" while looking right at it. So of course the older kids are like "oh, that picture" and the little kid is like "aww!"

JOHNER RIEHL: Right? And then there are puzzles too. But, I guess puzzles do cost a little bit of money. But puzzles are a great way to connect even with young kids about having them put together the pieces and finding the line between how much do you want to help them, this is especially for families who just have younger kids, who don't have like all of them. But if you're able to sit around and have puzzles to be worked on.

SUNNY GAULT: I think that's a good alternative. If you have time to do game night, consider some of those game nights to be puzzle nights. You do that.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah totally.

SUNNY GAULT: One rule I have is that, even for the harder puzzles, the more channeling puzzles for them I'll never put it together. I'll prompt them, "Oh what does this look like it goes with?" or if there's a face "let’s find the rest of the face" and still let them do it. Which I’m pretty much doing it for them without actually putting it together, but them putting it together makes a big difference.

JOHNER RIEHL: I think it took about four years, so let’s say I start doing puzzles with Quinter about when he was two, by the time he was 6, and I saw him do the edges first of a puzzle, I was like "finally! The advice comes through!" so for those of you that do puzzles with young kids, it'll eventually go through. I imagine that's parenting in general. Eventually, they're going to hear what you said, but probably not right away.

SUNNY GAULT: Cross your fingers.

JOHNER RIEHL: And probably not show you that they're listening.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, never admit.

ALICIA BRAVO: But I have to say that Charades is an easy one to do without buying anything.


ALICIA BRAVO: If we're out somewhere and we have some downtime, then I just whisper, and I don't even play it, I whisper in their ear what they should do, and just them playing among themselves keeps them occupied and they love it, especially if you're- he most recent time we did, I was vising my aunt who is 99 years old at her home, so we're sitting in the living room and there’s not much to do in a house like that so I said let’s do that and so she had a great time watching them play this, even though you know, it was a little active, and they have a great time 1) showing her how they play and 2) playing with each other so you never have to have a board game there do anything.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah I think family game night could be a lot of things are what we've learned here. It can be a special night, like sometimes we set it up, and like I was saying it, it doesn’t have to even be special. When you guys have the time to find some fun ways to engage. I think there are a lot of board games, is there any you guys can think of that we can throw in here, um.

ALICIA BRAVO: Another board game?


ALICIA BRAVO: Twister. Twister is still huge in our house.


ALICIA BRAVO: Yeah. From oldest down to youngest, they love twister.

JOHNER RIEHL: Nice, that's awesome. I don't know if we've played that with our kids. Even the, and I can see the young kids could do that too.

ALICIA BRAVO: Oh yeah easily. And if they get tired of trying to reach everything, they spin. They love being the spinner. But the kids really love mom and dad on the twister board with them. That’s the main thing about it. You can't just lay it out and make them do it. You have to be involved.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right, you do have to participate and get involved. But even if it’s not board games, there's all sorts of fun ideas and if you, you can invent your own games and whatever works for your family.

SUNNY GAULT: Just like you did.


SUNNY GAULT: The thumbs up, thumbs down.

JOHNER RIEHL: The thumbs up, thumbs down game, exactly.

ALICIA BRAVO: And for some families, video games are very important. Like a big part of their life.

JOHNER RIEHL: It’s sure.

ALICIA BRAVO: So family game night includes video games

JOHNER RIEHL: And I mean and that's something that, I think we're going to actually dig into this in a future episode, but you can play video games together. There are different kinds. They don’t have to be beat-em-up, shoot-em-up games, and they make all sorts of different games. But even some games are like a story or adventure game where you're making choices and solving puzzles and you can legitimately play games together and enjoy it. Those are games that we try to seek out. That's a whole other

SUNNY GAULT: I have to say, I know a lot of moms who would never play a video game, however when they got the Wii, I think it is, and there are so many interactive games, the sports games, the dance games.

JOHNER RIEHL: It’s a perfect, yeah.

SUNNY GAULT: All the sudden these moms are spending Friday nights playing with their kids on this, on those things where, before the kids would have been playing video games.

JOHNER RIEHL: And the truth is that the kids love it. You're meeting them kind of on their turf, they’re the ones, and they love that as well. So don’t rule that out by any means. So, hopefully you guys got some ideas from this episode. Thank you Alicia and Sunny for the conversation.


JOHNER RIEHL: Thanks everyone that’s been listening. For more information about this episode, visit our website at . The conversation is going to continue afterward, though, for members of our parent savers club. After the show we will reminisce about kids that we really liked playing with kids. For more information about the Parent Savers Club, visit the member’s portion of our website.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Question from our listeners on Twitter. Blaire from Canada asks: What do toddlers about two years old think besides milk and water? I'm afraid to get into realm of juice but maybe it’s not as bad as I think.

Fredrick Johnson: Hi, it's Doctor Fredrick Johnson calling in Blaire. Juices aren't so bad, the problem with juices is generally that they are high in sugar and kids tend to get too much of them because they're sweet. What may be a reasonable alternative is if you want, you can make a baby smoothie, which would include things like Yogurt, fresh fruity, blend it up and see if your toddler would like that. But otherwise, juice isn’t so bad but you probably only need about 6-8 oz. in a day if that much. So, hope that answers all your questions and I'll talk to everyone later. Bye.

JOHNER RIEHL: That wraps up our show for today, we appreciate you listening to Parent Savers.
Don't forget to check out our sister shows,
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed and
• This is Twin Talks for parents of multiples and our newest show
• Newbies- It’s going to be weird when that's not the newest show, cause it doesn’t make sense then.


JOHNER RIEHL: Newbies. Yeah. Newbies will always have to be the newest one. But that is for the ones who are going through it for the first time. Thanks again for listening. This is Parent Savers- Empowering New Parents.

This has been a New Mommy Media Production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute professional medical advice or care, and should not be used for diagnosing for treating healthcare problem or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

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