Satisfying everybody’s interests with the same activity is difficult when you have kids from different age groups. Elementary activities are too dull for older kids, while activities for teens are too challenging for youngsters. With just a little creativity, you can engage teens and younger kids in games that are developmentally appropriate for both age groups.
A big activity book full of brainteasers for all ages is sure to have something for everybody. Look for a book that contains an assortment of brainteasers with escalating difficulty levels, or print free brainteaser games from the Internet for both younger kids and teens. Make a family game night out of it by seeing how many brainteasers everyone can complete. Brainteasers promote cognitive skills, such as pattern recognition and problem-solving skills.
Gather the family in the back yard on the next warm and sunny day, and hold fitness challenges to promote exercise and physical development. Have hoop and jump rope contests to see who can go the longest or jump the most times. For kids with more than a few years’ age difference between them, assign point values to each rep completed. Allow teens one point per rep and younger kids two or three points per rep to keep things fair.
Word games are perfect for long car rides with the family, because they keep everyone occupied and engaged and do not require any equipment to play. Play the chain game, which begins with one player making a statement and continues with other players repeating and adding new elements to the story. Player one, for example, might say, “Yesterday, I went to the store and bought an apple.” Player two would then repeat player one’s statement and add “and a magazine.” Player three would repeat the extended statement and add yet another element. Play continues until one of the players misses an item or forgets the order. Another word game suitable for all ages is “Password.” The game facilitator thinks of a word and gives the other players a clue. The other players must use the clue to guess the word. Players take turns making one guess at a time until someone guesses the correct word. The facilitator must give another clue after each incorrect guess.
Sketchpad charades is ideal for mixed age groups, because older kids will provide more advanced drawings for younger ones to decipher, while the younger kids will make guessing pictures more challenging for teens. Create teams, pairing younger kids up with older ones. Make a draw pile of words to illustrate -- such as “love” and “cow” with index cards. One team member takes the sketch pad and attempts to draw the word, while his teammate has one minute to guess it. Correct guesses earn a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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