Be a Ninja Parent: Get Your Child Reading with Five Super Sneaky Moves

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Are you tired of fighting your child on the importance of reading? Do you wish you could snuff the “I hate/can’t read” stubbornness and get them to read without having to “force” it on them? Use these five sneaky moves to brush up on your ninja skills and you can do just that. Turn your child into a reader by employing these master ninja tips:

1.      Put audio books on in the car. Listening to books is as good as reading them. This sneaky ninja move will be great for you and your reluctant reader because it is using time that would be spent traveling anyway. No extra time is taken out of your schedule or your child’s fighting over reading. Listening improves vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension, and expands listening skills. Maybe the next time you ask for their room to be cleaned, they might do it! (Or maybe not, it is cleaning after all. Even the best ninja parenting tricks can only go so far.)

2.      Watch TV/movies together. You didn’t read that wrong. I mean it. This ninja parent move focuses on foreign films and television. Put the subtitles on and voila! Your reluctant reader is reading. This is a great way to improve reading speed and grammar. Your child will probably laugh at or mentally fix incorrect translations. Encourage your child to share these findings with you and you do the same. It’s an English lesson on the sly! There are lots of wonderful foreign films and productions easily accessible using services like Netflix or Amazon Instant Videos.

3.      Play video games with story lines. Many video games use narrative to explain what is going on during transitions in game play. Sit down with your child and pull out that controller. If the video game doesn’t read the text out loud, encourage your child to do so or your do it. Insist on having to know what is being written so you can figure out what to do next in the game. Do it even if you or your child understands what to do due to intrinsic play design. This sneaky ninja parent move in addition to reading encourages one-on-one interaction and bonding and teamwork. What kid would say “no” to video games?

4.      Go to the zoo or aquarium. Explore your local zoo or aquarium and read all the plaques on the different animals. Depending on your child, make the trip one big grand adventure. Consider making a documentary scrapbook. Go as wildlife explorers with all the gear. Bring a camera, a drawing pad, a notebook, crayons, pencil, pen, and tape (to stick interesting objects into your notebooks/drawing pads). Have your child draw or photograph the animals and write down interesting facts about them. Interview zookeepers/marine biologists and write down their responses. You’re ninja parenting will conquer reading and writing at the same time. Plus you’ll have a lot of fun doing it. When you’re done, your scrapbook will be full of great memories!

5.      Go to the museum. Pick a museum – any museum: art, science, history, etc. Pack a lunch for you and your reluctant reader and get ready to put your ninja skills to the test. Turn your museum trip into a quest with a gift shop souvenir as a prize. What you will need to do: Read up about the exhibitions beforehand and come up with a treasure map with a fill in the blank message. Then give your child a key to unlock the message. (Think National Treasure, where the little boy is running back and forth to look up particular alphabet letters in Ben Franklin’s letters to a newspaper to spell something.) All the clues should be findable on the plaques for the exhibitions. Before you know it your child will be happily reading and exploring.

What other ninja parenting moves do you have up your sleeves? Share what has worked for you!

Photo Credits: brunkfordbraun

Battle of the Books

by First Mate Keira

I first participated in Battle of the Books in fifth grade at elementary school. It was a real big deal because it the first time it was ever done in the county and my school wanted if not to win—then to beat out a lot of schools (and this was just the kid point of view!) and make a name for ourselves for next year.

Growing up, I lived in Florida where we have Sunshine State Books. The book list for our Battle of the Books was predetermined based on that year’s Sunshine State list. There were two tournaments one for the 5th graders using the 3-5 reading list and one for the 6th graders who used the 6-8 reading list.

I remember that to qualify for the Battle of the Books you had to take Accelerated Reading tests and score 80% or better on half of the books on the list.

That year I read all the books on the Sunshine State list and passed them with 100% accuracy on the AR tests.

I applied. I was accepted and I met my teammates. Two teams were formed for each tournament with the idea that only one of each would make it to the real tournament. We would battle each other first and then other schools.

My team got together and figured out how to best approach the contest. We shared which books we had read and what books we loved and then chose books on which to become the experts and got reading packets.  Every book was covered at least twice by two readers.

I went over my packets a lot and even asked for packets to other books covered by other team members. I really wanted to win and go to the real tournament!

Our school got the actual buzzers and equipment we would have to punch in on for the real deal as part of our practice run. I remember the competition being fierce and that all the 5th grade classes were called into our lunch room where the stage was set up for the first battle against our fellow schoolmates. We won, but barely, and we knew we had to study more. The motivation to read and beat other schools was incredibly strong.

For the most part we got together after school. Usually once a week to talk to our advisor. As time got closer to the tournament we got to get out of reading time and meet up outside by the recess area to study together in twos and threes.

Studying basically consisted of quizzing each other from the packets which had some very adult type questions that broke down the book and got very nitty-gritty on details. We got to know our packets forward and backwards and all in between as we tried to stump each other, sometimes even going so far as to ask the questions in reverse by giving the answer and looking for the keywords in the question itself.

Then the day came for Battle of the Books. It was a real sweet deal. I can’t remember where we met exactly but I have a feeling it was where the school board met. Teams were isolated in their own rooms with their study packets waiting for their turn to battle. We all started off on the same foot and advanced through brackets to the final championship round.

We got there and our teams were tied. We were the best readers competing against each other and nobody dared missed a question. We ended up in a bonus tie breaker, which we won when I buzzed in and answered. I never felt more proud than I did that day!

I still have the Battle of the Books trophy. It’s displayed prominently on my shelves. Of course, now I use it as a bookend to hold all my books in place.

Do you have Battle of the Books at your school? Have you ever participated and is it anything like mine was? If not, how is yours set up?

5 Free or Discounted Things to Do with Your Library Card

by First Mate Keira

Did you know there’s more you can do with a library card other than check books and movies out? Depending on where you live and what your library and county (and state) programs are there are five other things a library card is good for!

1. Museum Passes:

You can get free or discounted museum passes with a library card. It works two ways.

The first is the library holds the pass and you check it out like a book or movie. This pass will get you in at the museum, but you must remember to return it back to the library when you’re done using it. Be sure to pick it up early in the morning because passes go quickly.

The second method is to flash the museum your library card. When you do, the sales clerk with ring you up appropriately. You might need a library card per person in order for the free passes or discount to apply to all ticket purchases.

2. Public Transportation Passes:

You can get free passes on public transportation by presenting a library card. I’ve heard of free bus transportation and discounted subway passes. Be sure to double check in your area before assuming you can just hop on and get a free ride.

3. Zoo Passes:

Like with museums, you can get free or discounted entrance into zoos in your area by taking your library card with you. Most of the time I hear it’s a one time deal, but it’d be a great way to spend an afternoon and if you really like your local or city zoo be sure to get a season pass to keep your future costs down.

4. State Park Passes:

Some state parks offer free or discounted admission certain times of the year when you bring a book or library card with you. Enjoy your time outdoors and pack a picnic!

5. Entertainment Passes:

Sometimes you can even go see performances likes plays, shows, music festivals, even go to the movies, etc. for a far cheaper price with a library card. Keep an eye out for such announcements and don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure.

Remember, the availability of these discounts or freebies on activities depends solely on where you live and the places you wish to go. Be sure to call ahead and see if they offer Free Library Cardholder Days before heading out just in case they don’t. Also check with your library to see where they’re partnering. Sometimes they even display flyers and posters with information about free activities you and your family can do together.

5 Ways to Set and Meet Reading Goals

buriedtreasure

by Captain Lyaf Yarr and First Mate Keira

Most kids need motivation to start let alone finish a book. I’m going to share tips with on how to set and reach reading goals. I hope they help you!

  1. Required Reading for School: When you get a new book divide that book into how many days you have to read it in. Put sticky notes or index cards or bookmarks to mark those sections. Then read one section a day and read all the pages in that section. Pretty soon, before you know it, you’ve read the whole book. Congrats! Extra tip: be sure to start well before report is due! No stress that way.
  2. Reading More Books: First, decide how many books you want read in a week or a month. Now refer to tip one and figure out how many days in the week/month you have for each book. Be sure to start and finish your books within the time frame you figured out so you can reach your goal. You can even use this idea for a yearly book reading goal!
  3. Daily Reading: Set aside time in your day for reading. When this time comes, stop what you’re doing and read. I suggest setting aside an hour of reading time for when you first wake up or before going to bed. By reading every day you’re not going to forget anything about the book and have to start it over or backtrack and waste time.
  4. Listening to Books: Audio books are a great nook and cranny way of fitting in more books. You can listen to them while cleaning your room, when riding around in a car, while exercising, and simply hanging out at home. However you can fit it in is great just make sure you’re doing something where you can listen and pay attention.
  5. Nook and Cranny Reading: Read whenever you have a chance. Carry a book with you in your backpack, purse, bag, carrying case, whatever, just make sure you have one! There are so many places to read and many moments of time you can snatch for reading. For example: you can read in a car trip, when you are in line for something, before class starts and even before you go to bed.

Now that I have told you some of my tips for reading goals tell me yours. What do you do?

Move Over Monopoly – Play These 27 Outstanding Table Top/Board Games Instead!

Board games have evolved from the standard Parker Brother’s favorites like Monopoly and Clue. One of the things my boyfriend and I like to do is get together with our friends every week to play table top or board games. A lot of the games we play and love we discovered by watching Will Wheaton’s YouTube series Table Top where he and his friends play a demo of the game for viewers. Some of these games were already favorites from back in high school and some were completely new to us. For any gift giving celebration these games will be fun for you and your family and friends. Here’s what we recommend:

Every Man for Himself/Traitor Games:

 

  1. The Settlers of Catan This game was first introduced to me by one of my high school friends. If you can play Monopoly, you can play Settlers. This game is styled so that the layout of the board changes every time you play. There are several setups given in the how-to manual provided which will ensure greater fairness in initial games. This constant renewal is one of the reasons we love it so much. The strategy involved in play is another reason we love it. Even after years of playing it’s still fun to collect resources, build roads and settlements, and work to collect ten (10) victory points. Game play can be long, but everyone is engaged because even when it seems hopeless you can shoot ahead and trounce the leaders.  It’s all in the roll of the dice! There are many expansions and while I can’t claim to have played them all I love the Seafarers Expansion with ships and pirates.

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  1. Lords Of VegasThis game was an instant hit. We saw it, bought it, and waited to play it because it looked complicated. But it isn’t. You and your friends will try to be the biggest cheese in Vegas and to do it you’re going to build, sprawl, remodel, re-organize, gamble, and trade your way to the top. It’s best to be a card shark and watch which of the five (5) casino colors have been called because there’s only nine (9) each and you want to be the owner of the color most likely to be pulled. Sabotage is the name of the game. If you got money, spend it. Or gamble (but beware if you lose, your money goes to your opponent’s pockets). We bought the UP! Expansion for this game because our weekly game nights usually consist of six (6) or more friends. Competition is fierce. When you can’t sprawl you create skyscrapers and soar. This feature definitely allows for more players but it’s trickier to manage and costs more per play option. Still unsure? You know you want to be a casino boss, don’t lie.

Lords of Vegas

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  1. MunchkinI can’t describe adequately the glee in my friend’s face when he introduced this game to me in college. This is one cute game with cards that give players, genders, opponents, and owners of the game cheats to get ahead (although my boyfriend and I prefer to eschew these cheats to be fair to our friends or provide ways for our friends to join in on the cheats.) The goal of the game is to be first (if not always the only) person to reach Level 10 by slaying monsters, selling off treasures, and snagging covetous leveling cards. It can be long or short game play, but is generally on the longer side. You’re going to have a lot of fun with this game and want the expansions. Each one is full of goodies and a complete set wouldn’t be remiss!

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  1. Small WorldThis is not the Walt Disney ride where everyone from every culture sings together. In this game, you are meant to conquer your opponents over and over. You can play as humans, elves, ghouls, sorcerers, trolls, and more. Play time is limited to ten (10) rounds, one turn each round. When your current race is not strong to expand you put it in decline and start fresh the next round. The person with the most coins at the end wins! Depending on how many players you have you might want to buy the Small World expansion for six (6) players. This game is also available as a video game. My boyfriend likes to play it and try out the new races and attributes.

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  1. TalismanMy boyfriend and I started playing this game on his Razor when we took a trip last year. It was challenging to play at times because we couldn’t figure out how to initiate counter spells to stop spells being played by computer opponents. But it was a lot of fun so we grabbed the table top version when we got home. In this D&D style game, your goal is to get to the center of the board (you should be pretty beefed up on stats before you do the final push) and put on the Crown of Command that will allow you to cast board-wide spells on all of your opponents to kill them off. It’s not mean, merely practical. There can only be one winner and one ruler of the world after all. Expect to spend a few hours on this game.

talisman

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  1. TsuroThis is a party favorite. Our friends like to end game nights playing a few rounds of Tsuro. It’s quick and generally speaking over between ten (10) and fifteen (15) minutes. You are a dragon having a nice flight around the board, until all of a sudden you realize how little space you have to do those loop-de-loops you love. It’s a game of avoidance until you and your dragon opponents must cross paths. If you fall off the board, you’re out. Or if you run into the direct path of another dragon you’re both out. Great game for young children too because it involves pattern recognition, strategy (thinking ahead up to three turns), and is easy to play.

Tsuro

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  1. ArchipelagoThis is an advance civilization game and not for the faint of heart. There are lots of pieces, team objectives, individual secret objectives, team vs board, player vs player, and more. You bid each round to see who decides play order which can involve much bribing once that person is decided. If your first time playing is anything like ours you will proceed at a snail’s pace as you work through each phase of play. It helps to have a friend teach you everything! Or maybe just this video…

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  1. King of TokyoTokyo has been invaded by a lot of very large monsters over the years, but now they’re back and each one wants to dominate and rule the streets of Tokyo. Compete with other monsters in this fast-pace dice game. If you are in Tokyo your hits land on all players, but all players on their turns attack just you. Will you stay and tough it out or escape to the suburbs to heal up? First player to twenty (20) victory points wins or last player standing – whichever comes first. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I have never reached twenty (20) victory points. It’s usually last monster standing with us. Maybe we’re too impatient for control of Tokyo?

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  1. QwirkleDo you love Scrabble? Or Sudoku? This game combines the best of both. It’s great for all ages and is challenging and fun. A Qwirkle is either seven (7) shapes of one (1) color or (1) color and all seven (7) shapes. Stack titles next to each other like dominos to create patterns. Unlike Scrabble, Qwirkle is great for young players because it’s based on pattern-recognition as opposed to spelling. Games are quick and usually over less than one (1) hour.

Qwirkle

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  1. Lords of WaterdeepThis is one of my boyfriend’s favorite games. Instead of playing a mercenary completing missions, you are the lord setting missions and arranging their resources for completion. Game time is limited to eight (8) rounds of play, but each round consists of multiple turns. The Scoundrels of Skullport Expansion lets you gain more resources and gain them quicker, but the catch is you show how corrupt you are. Corruption is detrimental unless you’re a lord that thrives on it. So while this is an every man for himself game style, you’re all benefitted by working to keep corruption at bay.

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No Sabotage or Games that Discourage Sabotage:

 

  1. Ticket To Ride Are you ready to be a railroad baron? The original board game is a map of the United States featuring tracks for train routes connecting major and minor cities. Your goal is to make the most points building your railway empire. Points are scored by completed routes (careful if you don’t complete them you lose points), longest consecutive train route, and length of train segments. I think this is a great game for kids to learn the U.S. It’s also great at encouraging fair/nice play because every round you get one action and one action only. Do you use it to thwart an opponent or to help yourself win? Because there’s so many ways to connect routes, a thwarting move is more likely to hurt you than your opponent. Game play is fairly quick on this one – so why not play it again? I recently gave this game to my brother and his family and they loved it. My nephew is younger than the recommended age for playing and he had a grand time. I heartily recommend the 1910 Expansion as you get more routes and the extra bonus points for most completed tickets. My wish after all this fun playing the game? Even more routes and perhaps a changeable board, but while we wait for future expansions regarding this map Days of Wonder has created other maps featuring Europe, Asia, and other individual countries. You can also get this game for your phone or computer and play against family, friends, and strangers. My boyfriend and I played this way a lot when he was overseas working. It was fun and quick. If you’re like me you’re going to love the automated scoring.

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  1. AlhambraDo you want to build a snowman dream home? Alhambra is a Spanish game where you build a grand palace with many beautiful architectural features like arcades, towers, gardens, fountains, chambers, etc. Each turn you must decide if you’re going to buy a feature from the market for your home or pick-up money for future purchases. If you can buy a feature for the exact price you can get another turn. Each feature is worth a certain amount of points and points are distributed by who has the most in each category.  Many features have walled edges and the longest wall in your home will earn you points – so try to enclose your whole home! Building the wall is probably my favorite part of the game because it’s a challenging puzzle to work out but it can give you the extra points you need to win the game. There’s no way to sabotage in this game which is nice. Play changes each time because you get different pieces, but also scoring rounds are fluid and are hidden amongst the money pile. My boyfriend and I bought the Alhambra Big Box expansion set, but we haven’t played any of them yet as we’re still getting a lot of enjoyment out of the base game. We’ll get to them soon, but until then the choice is yours – expansions or no expansions?

Alhambra

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  1. CarcassonneThis is another favorite from high school/college. I like to think of this game as a face-up memory game, but you’re not matching apples to apples and cows to cows. Instead, you build a big puzzle and score points by completing certain types of developments like roads and cities. The board changes every time you play because pieces match in multiple ways. The more creative you can be the better! This is a great game for adults and kids to play alike and is a relaxing game with little chance for sabotage, although it is possible. House rules can make it easier or harder to do. Game play is short, but each expansion will add time to round out the length of play. Carcassonne was first introduced to me with expansions already in play. I did not learn it in the original form and so I recommend buying the Big Box Expansion set to get the most expansions possible.

Carcassonne

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  1. Takenoko Board GameThis is the cutest game ever. Each player tries to score points by completing gardener, panda, or emperor goal cards. They all have competing missions. The panda wants to eat bamboo. The gardener wants to grow it. The emperor wants pleasing surroundings. There isn’t a built-in way to sabotage opponents, if it happens it is purely incidental due to the secrecy of goal cards. Game play is on the shorter side – we usually finish within one (1) hour. I fully recommend for kids and adults of all ages.

Takenoko

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Everybody Works Together/Cooperative Games:

 

  1. Forbidden IslandYou and your friends team up in this game to find lost treasures on a sinking island. It’s being submerged at a rapid pace. It’s like the lost city of Atlantis and soon to be gone forever. Can you locate the treasures and get off the island in time or will you be a part of its watery grave? Each member of the team gets a special function that they can do or do better than anybody else playing. You’re encouraged to talk through each of your moves before committing to any decision. The layout of the island changes every time which is great for re-playability. Overall a relatively easy game, good for kids. Make it more difficult by raising the initial starting-level of the water.

forbidden island

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  1. Forbidden DesertFrom the makers of Forbidden Island comes Forbidden Desert. On your way to or from the island your flying ship crash lands into a desert. You risk dehydration and being buried forever by a sand storm. Hurry to locate the missing pieces of your ship and get on out of there stat! Like Forbidden Island, you’re meant to talk out each move and coordinate with your fellow players. It’s a more challenging game than Forbidden Island and the board is more likely to beat you.

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  1. Betrayal At House On The Hill – I am going to recommend this game for teens and adults. It’s more on the “scary” side and deals with many themes from horror movies. So if you don’t like horror films don’t play this game. You and your fellow friends have been invited to figure out what is happening at the house on the hill. Weird things are going on and as you explore the house you stumble upon omens, events, and each other. What you don’t know yet is that someone in your party tricked you all to go into the house. But who? Nobody knows until the haunt happens. Then it’s one player versus everybody else. Haunts can be anything from aliens, vampires, werewolves, possession, demons – and those are the ones we’ve played. There’s so many more as the haunt depends on where a haunt die roll fails and the most recent omen pulled from the stack. But not only can you replay and have a different haunt each time, but the house changes every time you play too. Not your 1990’s Scooby Doo mystery.

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  1. The Resistance – Are you a spy or a rebel? Only the spies know. It’s up to the rebels to ferret-out the spies before they fail to overthrow the government. This game needs a minimum of five (5) players to play. It is mostly a mind game with much talking and strategy involved. The more you talk and double-speak the more fun it is. Generally speaking the spies win, or at least they do with my group of friends. My favorite time playing this game was when I was a spy and managed to trick my boyfriend and one of his longtime friends into believing the other one was a spy. When the mission failed the one not chosen for the round was triumphant and the other confused. What had happened? Both were shocked on the reveal of the spy. It was great. Another time was when my cousin single-handedly convinced my aunt and uncle I was a spy when it was he and our grandma (she wasn’t up to full speed, she thought she was a rebel). That was pretty amazing to watch. He’s super devious. Game play is usually quick although there are parameters built into the game to make it last longer. It depends on how much you trust your fellow players and their decision-making.

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  1. Castle PanicYou and your friends are stalwartly defending your castle against an invasion of orcs, trolls, and goblins. Command archers, knights, and swordsman into the heat of battle. You must protect your walls and towers at all costs. When the dust finally settles will you be victorious or conquered? It’s a fun, strategic game that requires the whole party to think ahead several moves. Each person on their turn can trade one card with any other player and if you plan it wrong you’re going to have an unstoppable onslaught on your hands. As for me, I have the darnedest luck of drawing all the enemy kings in a row. If you do that, pray it’s at the beginning of the game when everyone has a lot of cards to use to defeat the strong attacks.

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  1. Castle RavenloftThis is a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) styled game. Choose your characters and beginning stats and enter the castle to complete the mission. The game comes with multiple scenarios and really cool looking figurines. I love the dragon! Game play is long – expect several hours of fun! Order a pizza or two to keep everybody’s strength up.

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Card Games:

 

  1. Fluxx This is a card game where the rules of the game are constantly changing. Even the winning conditions change frequently. You’ve got to be on your toes and you’ve got to read your cards. Your hand consists of cards that can help you win or backstab opponents. For instance, you might have Keepers, Creepers, Actions, Rule Changes, and Goals. Variations I’ve played – Oz Fluxx, Star Fluxx, and Zombie Fluxx. All are fun and all provide lively game play, so pick any theme that sparks your interest. Each game is different but average play time is around twenty (20) minutes.

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  1. Phase 10 A high school favorite, we played this during exams. There are ten (10) goals to complete and each goal is different and progressively harder to achieve. Each player strives to be the first to complete their current goal and end the round to prevent others from finishing along with them. The first to leap ahead is not always guaranteed to win the game, but every win helps!

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  1. GloomThis macabre game is like playing with relatives of the Adams Family. The goal of the game is to make your family members as miserable as possible before killing them off, while making your opponents happy – because making others happy is the worst thing you can do to them. You can play this game without the story-telling element, but then you’d take out half the fun. Listen as your friends try to spin a web of misery and intersperse your story with theirs! It’s delightfully wicked.

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  1. DixitIf you’ve played Apples to Apples or Pictionary, you’ll love Dixit. Gorgeous fantastical images on oversized cards are the heart of the game. You and your friends will try to give clues to your cards and discover who played what. If you’re too obvious you don’t get any points and if you’re too obscure you don’t get any then either. You have to find that perfect balance. We enjoyed the card game so much we bought two expansions to bulk up our base game and give everybody more options. We like to play with house rules to allow more cards and more turn over between hands so that everyone has a lot of options to pick from.

Dixit

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  1. BANGIn this Wild West card game there are four character types – Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff, Outlaw, and Renegade. Each character has a separate goal to determine if they win the game or not. Who you are is dealt out at the beginning of the game and is a secret from other players, except for the Sheriff who reveals his card. When he dies the game is over, or whenever the Renegade and Outlaws are all dead. If the Sheriff wins, it doesn’t matter if the Deputies are dead, they also win. Fun, fast, and a little reminiscent of Resistance.

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  1. Once Upon A TimeA great game for every parent who has had their kids ask for them to tell them an original story at bedtime. Using cards with actions, locations, characters, and even secret hidden endings, get together with your friends to tell a new never before heard fairytale. It’s even good for those who have a horrible time coming up with stories, though it might take some practice. Great for readers of all ages.

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  1. Smash UpAnswer that age old question – who would win in battle zombies or pirates? Robots or ninjas? Wait! Better yet, why don’t we smash-up and see if Zombie Pirates would beat Robot Ninjas? You and you’re friends will create the oddest smash-up’s in your battle for ultimate victory. Conquer bases, earn points, and gloating privileges. Which combinations are dynamite and which ones are duds? The card game has relatively quick game play. We usually go a few games when we play before calling it quits. We even bought this expansion and one more expansion for this game in order to have crazier and wilder smash-up’s.

smash up

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More pictures of the games being played as we play them on Thursday game nights!

Pop Your Top and Read

by First Mate Keira

Pop Your Top and Read days are some of the best days in elementary school. I remember looking forward to those days with gleeful abandon. In an effort to promote one of my favorite reading activities I’m going to talk a little more in-depth on what it is and how to get the maximum enjoyment out of it.

What exactly is Pop Your Top and Read?

Pop Your Top and Read is a reading activity put on by the home room or reading teacher in school. It is usually done in elementary education and not in the older secondary schools. Kids are invited to bring a drink and a book for a scheduled reading break during the day. Sometimes snacks or lunch is also involved—it’s a matter of preference on the teacher’s part.

When the scheduled reading time arrives the teacher announces to the class to put away their things and to grab their book and drink. Depending on the teacher the activity can be done in the classroom, in which case students will either stay at their desks or spread around the room to get in a comfortable reading position.

Other times it can be done outdoors like an extra recess. Kids will situate themselves around the playground or hallways and soak up the sun and breeze before cracking their books. Outdoor Pop Your Top and Read days are subject to the whims of the weather and you may have to adjust and head back indoors if it’s raining or snowing.

Most students, like I did myself back in the day, will bring a soda can or a can of juice. It makes it all the more satisfying when the teacher calls out “1, 2, 3!” everybody pops their tops at the same time. As I recall, it is a very satisfying sound!

Reading goes on anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour.

Similar Pop Your Top and Read Activities:

  • Reading is a Hole Lot of Fun – Snack on donut holes while reading.
  • Reading is Cool – Eat popsicles while reading.
  • Chew Over a Great Book – Chew bubblegum while reading.

These ideas came from National Education Association.

Why I Loved Pop Your Top and Read:

I love reading and an excuse to skip school work and dive into a book was always welcomed. What made Pop Your Top and Read most exciting though was getting to bring a can of soda into class, something not allowed under normal circumstances.

It felt so good because it was so forbidden back then, either because the school was relatively new and they were anxious to avoid cockroaches or because super sugary substances were just generally frowned upon back then. I know that makes me sound rather old, but I promise I’m not! :)

Do you have Pop Your Top and Read days at school? If you do, do you look forward to them?