Games do not need to be restricted to the table. Weave elements of friendly competition throughout other aspects of family life to increase engagement and draw everyone together. Do you have TV programmes that you like to watch as a family? Maybe you are all Britain’s Got Talent fans or The Great British Bake Off is your guilty pleasure. As children get older their feelings about the importance of these family TV shows may change. Maybe the format has got a bit tired for them, maybe sitting round with their parents watching people watching ovens is just not the most interesting thing in their lives any more. In the past, I’ve been guilty of demanding that my eldest watch Strictly Come Dancing with us because, ‘We all love it’, only to find him staring me down during the whole show, his jaw set, and subsequently being reminded by my husband that forcing the children to watch mindless telly isn’t what we do. Now, clearly I’m not advocating that family time should always be spent in front of the TV. But if the family is together, watching a programme that everyone enjoys and, crucially, talking and laughing about it, then that is a positive experience. You might vary the programmes you watch together to keep your teens engaged in family viewing, but before you give up on the old favourites, try making a game of it.
Bingo need not be restricted to TV shows. Spice up other family events by constructing a related Bingo game. Kids not too keen on visiting Grandma? Grandma Bingo! (‘Don’t forget to take your shoes off’, ‘Who wants a lovely biscuit?’ and ‘I really must finish that knitting.’) Kids moaning about going on a walk? Countryside Bingo! (‘Field of sheep’, ‘horse chestnut tree’ and ‘MAMIL’ (middle aged man in Lycra).) If you have super-competitive children, you might even be able to gamify household chores to encourage them to do the tasks they least like. Issue each child with a Bingo card at the start of the week. When they do a chore, they can check off the corresponding box in their grid. Of course, you can’t overuse Bingo as it will lose its appeal and cease to do the job of making a less interesting task more engaging. But Bingo need only be the beginning. Other games can be adapted too… Share your ideas in the comments below.
By the way… Have you played University Challenge Bingo? Choose three possible answers for questions at the start of the show and see if any come up. I’m having Kazakhstan, The Marriage of Figaro and π.
Construct a set of Bingo cards, one for each member of the family. Bingo cards can be 3×3 grids, giving each card nine squares. Write down catchphrases or common occurrences from the TV show in each square on each grid. If you can, give each person a totally different grid. If you need to repeat items, just make sure that no two cards share too many duplicate phrases. Make all the cards before you decide who will get each one. Try to construct them so that each card is pretty evenly balanced, with a combination of more and less likely to occur options. Get the family to help you. Before the show, randomly distribute the cards. As you watch, players can cross off items from their card as they appear in the show. Your Strictly cards might include ‘disaster, darling’, ‘fab-u-lous’ and ‘a score of 40’. Bake Off cards might involve ‘a handshake from Paul’, ‘a soggy bottom’ and ‘someone mistaking salt for sugar’. For Britain’s Got Talent, you could have ‘the golden buzzer’, ‘a standing ovation’ and ‘a contestant saying that this is a dream come true’. Players compete to get the first line, four corners and full house.
Location Location Location Bingo from Channel 4