Family Games


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Family Games

"Take time for fun." - Michael Popkin in Active Parenting

Games, or family games, as noted by an early scholar mentioned in the book, Wisdom for Parents, can be a social and fun way for helping children to reinforce aspects of learning and abiding by rules. Here are a few family games which 'our' family has found to be favorites among adults, kids, and grand kids. Other suggested games are welcome (other than the obvious, like Rummy, Kings Corners, Hearts, Spades, etc.).

The following three games are mentioned here because they are lesser known or have variations not noted elsewhere: Keepers, Bananagrams, and Spinner Dominoes.



(Someone has said it is similar to Chicago 5000,
which could not be found on a search.)

Good for all ages about 10 and above.
This game utilizes dice (5), but it does not involve money, just the spirit of the game.

KEEPERS -- How to play Keepers

Five dice, counted as follows:
one = 100
five = 50
three ones = 1000 (five would be 1000 + 100 for each other one, or 1200 total)
three fives = 500 (five of them would be 600, 500 plus 50 for each other 5)
three of any 2, 3, 4, or 6 = 200, 300, 400, 600 respectively. (only three of them
     count; an extra one or two do not add any count; only the extra ones and fives add more count)
Straights = 1000, either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (need not be thrown on one roll)

A 'KEEPER' is a one, a five, any three of a kind, or a straight.

Each player rolls one dice and the one with the higher count begins play, rotating to the left, clock-wise. On each player's turn, he/she can keep rolling remaining dice after setting aside a Keeper or as many Keepers as s/he wishes, in order to improve the score. On each roll, all new Keepers rolled need not be set aside, only the one or ones the player wishes, having to set aside at least one. The player can stop rolling whenever s/he wishes. On any roll, if there are no Keepers, any accumulated count is lost and the next player rolls.

Also, upon any roll by a player, if all five dice are Keepers, s/he can keep that score and roll again, as long as another Keeper is rolled on each subsequent roll; however, if on any turn, sooner or later, if you roll and no new Keeper appears, you lose all previous scores on that turn. So it may be wise to stop rolling when a player feels it is unwise to keep rolling for fear of not getting a Keeper. Example: If three twos are rolled, and the player rolls the two remaining dice and gets a five, keeping it and rolling the last dice and gets a five, the score would be 300 and all five dice could be rolled again, adding any future count, as long as a Keeper is rolled and set aside on each roll. One person has been known to have rolled a score of 4,900 and stopping with that score. The first player to get to 10,000 or higher wins, with one condition: all other players have one last turn to see if s/he can get a higher score and become the winner.



(Noted here because of a variation not mentioned in the official instructions.)

To BUY, click here.

NOTE: One can search to buy a double size version for playing with larger groups of 5-8 players.

Good for ages of about 12 and above.
This is a great game for improving ones knowledge of words, spelling, and the use of the dictionary. One is basically playing at his or her own pace, not worrying about the value score of certain letters as in some other word games.

Our family makes one modification. Official instructions of the game provide a basic approach, with several variations. We feel that the following variation improves upon the game, reducing frustration.

BASIC INSTRUCTION: During the game, when a player uses up his/her letter tiles, s/he says "Peel" at which time all players are to take another tile from the stock in the middle of the table, doing so until all tiles are taken. This leads to frustration, since all of the letters z, q, x, etc., have to be taken. In the game, one can "Dump," which involves placing a letter tile which you do not like in the middle stock and taking three others (all the stock tiles being turned upside down). Still, to finish the game, all of those dumped tiles have to be taken.

OUR VARIATION: When all players have taken their initial number of tiles (15, 18, or 21, depending on how many players), we create two stock piles (not one) in the middle of the table: one is used for Peeling and the other is used for Dumping. The game ends when all of the tiles in the Peel stock are taken and a player uses all of his or her tiles in making words, then saying, "Bananagram." The tiles in the dump stock do not have to be used; that Dump Stock is merely used for the Dumping of tiles which you do not want to keep, taking out three tiles in exchange. One can adjust the length of the game by the size you make for the Peel Stock and how many tiles each player takes in the beginning. It would be good to read the basic instructions which come with the game first, then, remembering the variation just described above. We hope your family enjoys it.



This game is an interesting variation of Double-9 Dominoes, played with a special set of dominoes having an extra set of 11 dominoes with 'spinner' pieces, used as a wild card, or wild domino. This adds an interesting dimension to the usual Double-9 game. When a player does not have a matching number, when desired, s/he can play a spinner. The double spinner is not used as a wild domino, but as any other double number, where the next three plays must be a spinner played on it as with other doubles, as a chicken foot. Of course, however, the first double played in each round may be played on all four sides of it (some versions require the 2nd and 3rd play of the round playing on the original double before a player is free to play anywhere else; another version requires the next four plays to fill all four sides of the double, before free to play elsewhere).

Fuller instructions come with the set.
One can buy the special Spinner domino set by clicking Here