Family Reunion Games and Activities

Games, also see Family History Focused Fun for games

Old Fashioned Games are still some of the most fun to play. Our daughter-in-law planned a family reunion with an afternoon at a park playing  many of these old games. It was fun for everyone–old and young! It can be used for family-history themed reunions as well.

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What games did our grandparents play?

Click on the names to go to websites with rules for old games.

Red Rover

Anti I Over

Three-legged Race

Gunny-sack Race

Kick the Can

Capture the Flag

Eat Donuts off a String

Guess Who? We had square pieces of paper for everyone to write something about themselves that most people don’t know. They all go into a jar, and the M. C. reads them out and everyone tries to guess who that is. For instance someone wrote that she loved to dance and would lock herself in her room, turn the music up, and dance. Most people were guessing teenagers, but it was not a teenager. Someone wrote that a helicopter had landed in her front yard, etc.

About You   (These questions start conversations as other people remember something that is relative, so the point is not to get to everyone, but to engage everyone in conversation and reminiscing)

Have questions in a bowl for people to draw from. Each person answers the question, such as  Which sibling were you closest to and why? What chores did you do when you lived at home? What was your favorite piece of clothing you had as a child? What store did you shop in the most when you were young? Who was a neighbor you didn’t like and why? What was the best advice your dad gave you? What activity did you like to do the most when you were young? Where did your dad or mom work? Did you go to work with them ever? Where was your room located in the house, describe it. Where was your favorite place to play? Sing a childhood song you knew back then. What do you remember about Grandma (or Grandpa, or Aunt? Uncle? ) What was your favorite treat as a kid?

Did You Know?

Have a box with pieces of paper, and invite all the guests to write a little known fact or story about the family–anonymously.

Confessions

The host of the game reads something about an ancestor and asks everyone there to admit it, if they have done the same thing. This one can be used as a fund raiser. If you have done the same thing as Grandpa, Grandma, or some Aunt or Uncle, you put a quarter in the pot. Such as, ” Grandpa used to drink beer. If you have ever drunk beer, put a quarter in the pot.” Grandma one stole a piece of chalk from her teacher. If you have ever stolen anything…” Grandpa loved to drag State Street in his souped up car. If you have ever had a “souped up” car or drug State Street…” Grandma used to die her hair,  if you have…” Grandpa started fights at school. If you have ever been in a fist fight…” Grandma never would miss an episode of her soap opera. If you have ever watched soap operas…” Grandpa used to swear…” Aunt Lizzy could never keep a secret, if you have blurted out something you shouldn’t have…”

(This one could also be played with a basket of candy–if they had similar experiences to Grandpa…take a piece of candy.)

Who Am I?

Have names of family members on sticky notes, stick one of the names on a person’s forehead. He has to go around asking yes or no questions about who he is, such as “Am I male?”  ”Am I young? ”  ”Am I a farmer?”  ”Do I make delicious bread?” “Did I live in Oregon?” He can’t ask the same person more than once, so everyone has to mix and mingle. If children are playing this game, then you could use the names of people at the reunion–just cousins and aunts and people they know.

Name This Baby

Gather baby pictures of all those attending. Place them on a wall or board with numbers on each one. Each guest gets a paper with the list of all attendees (whose pictures you have), and places the corresponding number of baby picture with the name. If it is an extended family, then have everyone gets to play. If it is the more immediate family, then maybe just the kids should guess.

Who does this baby belong to?

In an extended family reunion we had all the mothers with babies –up to two years old  stand in a row holding someone else’s baby. Guests had to guess which baby belonged to which mother. This was really fun because some babies look just like their mothers, and others look nothing like their mother. We had a blond, blue-eyed mother with a dark haired, brown eyed baby that a stranger would never have guess belonged to her.  But that baby looked a lot like others in the family. It’s a fun way to look at family resemblance.

Team Building Games

We have played team building games like they do at business retreats, and they work really well at family reunions, and they can be hilarious. I can’t remember the rules to them, so look online. There are tons of them. Here is one website: Team Builders 

Herding Pigs

We played this team game at our Cowboy and Outlaw themed Reunion. You blow up pink balloons and let the kids draw faces on them. Then you have an area that is enclosed on three sides to act as the corral. Each team takes turns herding the pigs into a corral with flyswatters. This is a lot of fun because balloons are as hard to herd as pigs would be. It can be done at the same time, if you have two “corrals” or one team at a time with a stop watch. There are lessons that can be applied to this activity such as being unwilling to follow the crowd, if that is a teaching that is needed, or it can be of following rules for safety and happiness reasons.  I try to adapt games to a lesson when I have the kids around.

Charades

Charades is a classic game that most people really like to play. I have a container that is about the size of two cups filled with Popsicle sticks. I have written a names of movies, books, and songs on each stick. I geared these to children to play charades. They pull out a stick and act it out and have their team guess, as any game of charades is played. The popscicle sticks are a good way of preserving the titles for the next group of kids is ready to play. Kids tend to entertain themselves with this for a long time. It, of course, could be geared for adults as well.

OUTDOOR GAMES

It would be fun to have rotating yard games–three or four games going at once, and every 15 minutes two people from each game rotate to the next game and pick up where the other players were (other players rotate as well), so not every rotates at once, but everyone gets to play with many people.

Croquet, Bad Minton, Volleyball are always fun, but we found two new games last year that our family loves.

Kubb-Viking Bowling

This game is very fun. It is difficult, but a child can do it as well, almost as an adult. My husband made us a set because our family enjoyed playing a borrowed set so much. There are rules online.

We love this game, and we take it with us. We were camping last year at Pete’s Hole, and people who passed would stop their cars and ask what game we were playing. There is a lot of laughing.

Washers –Urban Horseshoes

This is a very fun toss game. There are lots of sites that have the rules online

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Self Defense and Safety

It is a great place to talk about self defense to kids as well as adults. There are safety councils in all cities that have people who will come talk about self defense, neighborhood watch, drunk driving, etc. My daughter was the EMT Director in her town for many years, and she brought some of these things to our family reunion. Impaired Driving Goggles were a big hit, as everyone tried to walk a straight line with them on. It is a very effective way to teach about drinking and driving.

Water Slide

My sister set a water slide up at a park in Bountiful with a very steep hill. She bought the visqueen at a home improvement store. They secure it with tent pegs (this time they forgot them and used rocks). There is a water tap close by, and they took a hose to hook up to it. (Their ward had done this for a couple of parties.)

Hawkins water slide1

Everyone  had a ball with this homemade slide. We had dinner lunch before and during the water activity at the pavilion in the park, and watermelon afterward. Awards were given to the kids. Awards can be purchased at thrift stores and painted. Kids love getting an award, even if they have a bowling ball on them and they won the award for bravest slider.

Roller Skating

My mom used to rent a Roller Skating Rink every year the night after Thanksgiving Dinner as an activity to keep us together having fun on that day.

Family Fun--Roller Skating-001

 

 

 

 

 

Family History Focused Reunions

FUN ACTIVITIES THAT FOCUS ON FAMILY HISTORY

When I was little, I remember our reunions were always at a park. We at lunch and visited, and hugged everyone–even those people I didn’t know. We always brought our own lunch for our family, but there was always sharing. I remember one year, after my mom had married our uncle, we took Kentucky Fried Chicken for our family. It looked like a lot because there were 25 of us, and so Uncle Loren/Dad told everybody to come get some chicken, we had plenty to share…there were lots of takers, so many of our family didn’t get any chicken.

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“Come help yourselves, we have buckets full!”

 Many years later, after he had died, my sister emailed everyone on his birthday and said, “I think we should all go buy a bucket of KFC and give it away to someone to remember Dad.” We still have lots of laughs about that memory.

But anyway, I was talking about our old reunions and how we ate lunch, and then after lunch the adults got together and had a “Genealogy Meeting.”They tried to get us kids to come, but I tried it and it was so boring, I went off to tend the little kids on the swings. They were ALWAYS boring unless it was my mom’s turn to host the reunion. She brought out lots of ideas and made it a great time. That is the first I had heard of a  kiddie pool full of sawdust or sand with money in it. All kids loved digging for the money. She was sure there were better ways to teach family history, so I’m going to list things she did, and we have done that I consider fun ways to pass along appreciation for our ancestors.

Her ideas through the years included:

READER’S THEATER

  •  One time beside a bonfire at the end of a full day of activities, she had people dress up in costumes of old, and gave them a script to read as a Reader’s Theater about my great grandfather Thomas Sunderland Hawkins.
  • Grandpa Thomas Hawkins Trial
    • He was a polygamist, and as was tradition, the first wife gave consent for him to marry a second wife, but then she changed her minds. Those who were stirring up trouble over polygamy convinced her to spy on her husband and take him to court, which she did. Outlawing polygamy had not quite happened, so she was convinced to sue him for adultery. The court reporter had a sense of humor and wrote it mostly as a farse, making fun of everyone and everything. My mom had a court stage set up with an attorney,  Thomas Hawkins and his wife Harriet Hawkins on the stand. Each character took turns reading the parts where they were quoted. We thought it was very funny, except my brother who is an attorney; he was disgusted and called it “a travesty of justice”.  I didn’t know anything about this ancestor until this reunion, and I have never forgotten him or how awful that trial must have been for him. He was the first one tried for polygamy, and so the courtroom was filled with spectators, mostly Mormons.
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      “Mormon Troubles–The Trial of Thomas Hawkins” published by “Harper’s Weekly, November 1871.

 

PLAYS AND SKITS

  • Grandma Ann Jewell Rowley
  • She wrote up a one-woman plays was written from many diaries and bios, and stories that she heard growing up about her great grandmother, Ann Jewell Rowley. She performed it for us all. Everyone who was there loved it, and felt like they knew this ancestor so much better.
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Ann Jewell Rowley

STORY TELLING

  • Grandma Maggie Rowley
  • She wrote up a story her mother had told her about taking a midwifery class from Dr. Ellis Shipp. Her mother, Maggie and her friend were both expecting babies and promised each other they would deliver the babies with the cleanest, hygienic methods they had just learned. The story goes on to be hilarious as she helps her friend clean and put a stove back together, finishing barely in time to catch the baby with soot all over them and the house. My mother told that story to the reunion of her brothers, sisters, and the next two generations attending. Grandma Maggie ‘s stories were the entertainment for that reunion.
Sam and maggie-001

Margaret Ellen Black Rowley

Games for Family History

CONFESSIONS The host of the game reads something about an ancestor and asks everyone there to admit it, if they have done the same thing. This one can be used as a fund raiser. If you have done the same thing as Grandpa, Grandma, or some Aunt or Uncle, you put a quarter in the pot.  Here are some ideas. Telling the full name of the relative helps people know some details about their ancestors.

  • Uncle Preston used to drink beer. If you have ever drunk beer, put a quarter in the pot.
  • Grandma Sammy  stole a piece of chalk from her teacher. If you have ever stolen anything…
  • Grandpa Dave won trophies at the Drag Races with his ’56 Chevy. If you’ve ever  raced your car, or owned a Chevy…
  • Grandma Ginny used to dye her hair, if you dye your hair…
  • Grandpa Menco started fights at school. If you have ever been in a fist fight…
  • Grandma Nina  never would miss an episode of her soap opera. If you have ever watched soap operas…
  • Grandpa Parker used to swear. If you’ve ever said a swear word…
  •  Aunt Lizzy could never keep a secret, if you have blurted out something you shouldn’t have…
  • Great Grandpa Thomas was the first one tried for polygamy in court in Salt Lake City. If you have ever been to court even as a witness or jury member…
  • Grandpa David had a lead foot. If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket…
  • Grandma Maggie Rowley married four times. If you have been married more than once…
  • Great-Great Grandpa James lied under oath in court. If you have ever told a lie…
  • Great Grandpa Sam sued his neighbor over a manure pile. If you’ve ever fought with a neighbor…

(This one could also be played with a basket of candy–if they had similar experiences to Grandpa…take a piece of candy. Or pass out candy to begin with and they have to give it back if they have ever…)

WHO’S WHO ANCESTOR GAME

This game is similar to the one listed in Family Fun, but with Family History. To play this, put pictures with names under them on a wall or board, so people can see the names and faces of ancestors. Then the host asks questions such as

1–Who headed for the Gold Fields of Oregon in…?

2–Who was a midwife?

3–Who made kid gloves to earn a living?

4–Who changed his name?

5—Who was sued by his wife for adultery?

6—Who was a freighter–hauled goods in a wagon from the railroad in Price to Vernal?

7—Who came with his mother and siblings with a handcart and later was part of the Hole in the Rock expedition?

8—Who lived in Orderville as one of five wives? And loved her sister wives?

9—Who fed Poncho Villa?

10—Who was a cowboy on one of the largest ranches in Utah?

11—Who spoke perfect Spanish and worked for the American Government in Mexico?

12—Who started their working career in a factory with no marketable skills and within five years became a hospital administrator?

13—Who was secretly baptized in the middle of the night?

14—Who died in Nauvoo as a Martyr for the Church?

15—Who was called with her husband and family to the San Juan Mission (Hole in the Rock)?

16–Who  accompanied Joseph to Carthage Jail? And went to Washington with the Omaha Indians to fight for compensation to them for their stolen lands?

As the questions are answered, point to the person on the wall. You could also print questions and a photo collage as seen below. Everyone can put the number of the question on the person they think it fits. Review  the questions, pointing out the right picture and elaborate a little on the person. Then people have a paper with pictures on it to take notes on and also take home.

WHO’S WHO?

Ancestors-Hawkins Historic Photos-001

Ancestor Collage for Who’s Who Game

MATCH YOUR EXPERIENCES TO GRANDMA’S

Each fact will have points beside it, as individuals go through the list, they award themselves points for the matching facts. One with the most points wins a prize.

Suit this to your own ancestor or ancestors

Types of facts could be:

1- Grandma Nina has sewn a million buttons on clothing. If you have sewn a button give yourself 10 points.Pass out a paper that lists things about an ancestor that you are featuring.

2- Nina has put in a thousand zippers, if you are wearing a zipper, add 10 points.

3-Nina is a quilter, she has made a ton of quilts. If you have ever helped make a quilt add 10 points. If you have pieced a quilt add 20 points.

4-Grandma Nina dislikes the color YELLOW. If you are wearing yellow, subtract 10  points.

5-Grandma Nina had twins. If you have ever had twins or are a twin, or have twin grandchildren give yourself 10 points. 6- Grandma worked for a fuse plant during WWII. If you have ever worked for the government give yourself 10 points

7-Grandma owned a bird named PeeWee that would screech whenever anyone visited, so none of us like him. If you have ever owned a bird subtract 10 points.

8-Grandma loved to watch her favorite soap opera. If you ever watched General Hospital subtract 10 points–that was not her show. If you’ve ever watched Days of Our Lives, add 10 points.

9–Grandma did not like pasta. If you love pasta, subtract 10 points.

10-Grandma lived in the same house for 40 years. If you have lived in the same house for over 30 years add 10 points.

11-Grandma made her famous chocolate cake for any family gathering. If you know her secret ingredient, add 10 points.

12-Grandma’s house was painted “easy-on-the-eyes green” inside an outside. If your house has green paint on any wall inside or out, or if green is your favorite color,  add 10 points.

13- Grandma had two hummingbird feeders and she loved watching the birds. If you have a hummingbird feeder add 10 points.

14-Grandma loved her little Chihuahua. If you have an inside dog, add 10 points. If you have or ever had a Chihuahua, add 20 points.

15-Grandma saved everything in case she might need it one day. When she moved out of her house, we had to fill up 2 dumpsters to move her. If you hate throwing anything away, subtract 20 points!

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS MATCH GAME

Have pictures of ancestors with names under them cut out, mix them up on a wall or board, and have the kids try to match the great-great-grandmas to the correct g-g-g-grandmas. Then have them put them on the right side of the family– either Grandma’s or Grandpa’s. As they make a match tell something about that couple–where the lived, how many children, some story about them that will make the kids remember them better.

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS

Ancestors-Hawkins Historic Photos

Mothers and Daughters

FATHERS AND SONS MATCH GAME

Match up the fathers–top row to the sons–bottom row. Then match which side they belong on.

FATHERS AND SONS

 

Ancestors-Hawkins Historic Photos1HUSBANDS AND WIVES MATCH GAME

Pass out copies of pictures with grandmas and grandpas on it. Each family member needs to match up the couples. As host reads the answers, he should tell something about their story.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES

Ancestors-Hawkins Historic Photos (2) 

MATCHING YOUNG FACES TO OLD

Have baby or young pictures posted of ancestors, along with adult pictures and play the match up baby or young pictures to older person. This is good for kids to play with living grandparents–try to match up the baby picture to people they know.

YOUNG AND OLD

Ancestors-Hawkins, Alma and Harriet Carleton

Young and Old

 WHO AM I?

Have names of family ancestors on sticky notes, stick one of the names on a person’s forehead. He has to go around asking yes or no questions about who he is, such as “Am I male?”  ”Am I young? ”  ”Am I a farmer?”  ”Do I make delicious bread?” “Did I live in Oregon?” He can’t ask the same person more than once, so everyone has to mix and mingle.

If children are playing this game, then you could use the names of people at the reunion–just cousins and aunts and people they know.

Have the OLDER GENERATION TELL STORIES ABOUT ANCESTORS THEY KNEW. Record this Session.

Ask some people ahead of time to think of a funny or important story to tell about the ancestors they remember and interacted with like their parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc. Usually when one tells a story it reminds someone else of a story. These stories are invaluable! Record the whole gab session and type it up as a record. Even folk lore is important to history.