In the era of computerized gaming, character-branded games and handheld electronic games, plain old card games sometimes get overlooked. But they're a great family activity, requiring almost no prep (surely you have a deck somewhere, and if you don't, you can grab one at the drugstore for two dollars), plus they're suitable for almost any age level. And besides all the "skill building" you can do through cards (number recognition, pattern matching, addition, strategic thinking, turn taking...), they're just plain fun.
What you'll need:
- Deck of cards Optional:
- Paper and pencil (for rummy or hearts)
- Hoyle's Rules of Games (if you need some refreshing on the rules)
What you'll do:
Plan your game for late afternoon before dinner, or after supper instead of TV.
From the following list, choose a game that is appropriate for your children's age and skill level. Review the rules with the kids before you start playing, even if they are familiar with the game. Rusty yourself? Hoyle's Rules of Games is more or less the definitive guide to card (and other) games -- invest in a copy and it'll quickly become an often-used family reference. (And even if you're a card shark, an agreed-upon rulebook also helps squelch those "YOU'RE CHEATING!" moments.)
Tips for playing with beginners: You might want to play an "open hand" or two (where everyone keeps their cards face up during the round) with younger children, or even with older kids if they're just learning the game. And while play traditionally starts to the left of the dealer, the "youngest goes first" rule works well with the under-five crowd.
5 and under: Go Fish, War, Steal the Old Man's Bundle
5-8: Old Maid, Crazy Eights
8+: 500 Rummy, Hearts