Free family fun: play games anywhere

Tonight at dinner we did something a little different.  Normally, we talk about our day, the weather, reminisce about fun days past, etc etc. . . Typical family dinner stuff. The thing is, once in a while we shake it up. Get totally crazy! And play a game during dinner.

I never really thought it was anything special, but tonight it crossed my mind that many kids are sitting in front of the tv with their food.  Kids are getting in trouble because mom & dad are on their phone during dinner and can't be bothered. There are kids who just aren't eating tonight. Even as I was thinking how cute my kids were, I couldn't even stop to take a picture of the moment. The truth is: I didn't want to.

There are some nights I just want a nice, quiet, calm dinner with my 3 favorite guys. But let's be honest: dinner with kids is almost never calm. By focusing their attention on a fun activity, they were able to sit in their seat longer and we were practicing conversation skills, like taking turns and looking at the person talking.

This particular activity worked for both of my children, even though their ages are far apart: 4 and (nearly) 10. He-man (4) is learning beginning word sounds and E-man (nearly 10) is learning to alphabetize words.

So, if your family feels like it is stuck in a conversational rut, dinner is dreadfully boring, or you are spending all of dinner convincing your kids to stay at the table maybe it is time to try a game.

Animal Alphabet
Starting at "a" one person names an animal that begins with that letter. The next person names an animal that starts with "b" and so on until you get to the end of the alphabet. I let the kids figure out which letter is next (which means we sang the alphabet song about 26 times).
Other categories you could use:
First or last names
Things that smell good

What is a material free game that you could share?

And, just for fun, on of my favorite alphabet songs.