."..for everyday life, the mixed society of elders, juniors and equals, which we get in a family, gives at the same time the most repose and the most room for individual development. We have all wondered at the good sense, reasonableness, fun and resourcefulness shown by a child in his own home as compared with the same child in school life." CM
Generally, every Thursday, our family spends an evening doing something together. Sometimes, it is elaborate and well planned but most of the time it is just ‘spur of the moment’ ideas. First, we eat a meal that the children especially enjoy and we have a dessert. Afterwards, we play together. Here are some activities that we have done in the past:
Charades-Mom or Dad writes several ideas down for the children to silently act out. Sometimes we break up into teams, sometimes they are one man shows. Usually there is a theme for the evening to make the guesses easier. Ideas: characters from history or the bible. Famous ladies, Bible or history stories; during the holidays, we have acted out Christmas songs.
Family Theatre- Sometimes we have used these evenings during an entire month to practice a Shakespeare, Christmas or literature play. We get clothes out of our dress up trunk. It is great fun for the little ones to see Mom and Dad dressed as Queen Elizabeth or Hamlet.
Board Games- Some of our favorites are Snatch, Cranium, Pilgrim’s Progress, Rummy Cube, Monopoly and Risk.
Slumber Party- We often did this one when the children were very young. All climbed into Mom and Dad’s bed and we played games. The games were simple but the kids loved them. We played the Synonym game, Antonym or Homonym game, the ‘Make Me Laugh’ game, ‘Name That Tune’, 'What’s that Sound?' I Spy, and the Story game (each member makes up one line of the story as it goes around the circle.) It ended with Dad telling a made up story from a series he has been doing since the children were tiny. Then all went to their own beds
Movie Night- We watch a classic DVD or VHS movie and eat popcorn or roasted chestnuts all together under blankets. Favorites have been Pollyanna, The 10 Commandments, The Castaways, Shirley Temple’s old movies such as The Littlest Rebel, Wee Willie Winkie, and Little Princess, Susanna of the Mounties; also Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang, The Black Stallion, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Old Yeller and Mary Poppins.
Wink- This is our latest game. During the evening meal, we light candles and turn out all lights. All members pick a card, even our three year old. Whoever gets the queen is ‘it.’ He secretly winks at others while they are eating dinner. Within 30 seconds, that person winked at must ‘perish’ in a dramatic way. Every one tries to figure out who the winker is. This is hilarious because the family members act out famous historic deaths. Sometimes it’s a blood curdling scream, or Caesar saying to Brutus, “Et tu, Brute!” or Romeo, Juliet, Boromir of Lord of the Rings, Gandalf-“Fly, you fools!” General Wolfe- “I die happy.” The list is endless.
Literary Society Meetings- Inspired by Little Women and C.S. Lewis’ Inklings, we have started our own little family literary society. We meet once or twice a month and read our latest writings to each other and critique one another. The children love this! Here are some of our rules of order.
- All members choose a ‘non-de plume’ name and must wear a tie. (Mine is Alexander Higginbotham) DH taught everyone how to tie a tie for this important meeting.
- The meeting begins and ends with a gavel rap by the president.
- The elected child president reads the family writings aloud.
- The elected child editor compiles the writings and makes a family newspaper. She then publishes it online here. All criticism must begin with praise.
- No one is allowed to interrupt someone else while speaking.
- After we read the paper, we bring new ideas and plans to the floor to be voted upon such as – should we have a craft bazaar? Can we stay up this Friday extra late and watch a movie?, etc… All in favor says, ‘aye’, all opposed say ‘nay’. etc…
This has been a wonderful source of entertainment and a motivator for the children to write, write, write. We’ve been having these family fun nights since our eldest was four years old and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. My husband even rearranges his schedule so that these nights are not intruded upon. Only on rare occasions, have they been skipped. I hope you have been inspired by some of these ideas.