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Somerset County YMCA - HomeFor Youth Development; For Healthly Living; For Social Responsibility

Helping You Live Better

Games to Play as a Family

by Tina Costello, Joleen Donnelly, Liz Kryznefski, and Laura Rodriguez | Nov 18, 2016
The holidays are a time for gathering and bonding with friends and family. Games, magic tricks and experiments are a great way to spend time together, while making memories that will last a lifetime.

Our School-Aged Child Care staff have put together of list of three ideas to help get you started this holiday season: 


Sugar cubes are magical, especially with misdirection. You’ll need Imperial Sugar or Dixie Crystals sugar cubes and a wood pencil.


  1. Have one of the children in your family give you a number between 1 and 10 and write the number on one side of a sugar cube.
  2. Pick the cube up and press the pad of your thumb onto the sugar cube where you wrote the number. Squeeze firmly.
  3. Drop the sugar cube in the cup of warm water.
  4. Stir the water until the sugar cube is dissolved.
  5. Grab the hand of the child, firmly pressing the pad of your thumb against their palm.
  6. Holding the child's hand palm down, tell them to wave it slowly over the water as the sugar dissolves and "magically sends their number up to their hand."
  7. Tell them to turn their hand over to reveal their number written on their palm.


When performing the Sugar Cube Magic experiment, the key is making the performance look natural. After you've written the child's chosen number on the sugar cube, pressing it against the pad of your thumb will transfer the graphite numeral to your thumb, but don't let the kids see this!

The other important movement is placing your thumb in the palm of the child's hand. Try to press your thumb to their palm WHILE guiding their hand over the glass. This gives you an opportunity to press your thumb while hiding the reveal of the hidden number. Telling them to wave their hand over the cup while you move their hand takes their attention to the cup and away from your thumb in their palm. Classic misdirection resulting in their mind being blown!

While doing magic is fun, there is also a bit of science in the Sugar Cube Magic experiment. Pencils write using graphite. Graphite is essentially, carbon atoms in their standard state. Some of the graphite you write onto the sugar cube transfers from the cube to your thumb. This is due to a lack of cohesion and adhesion. The same happens, again, when you press the graphite into the palm of a child's hand.

​Source: Steve Spangler Science


Cats may have 9 lives, but in this game, everyone starts with 10. Each person shares something they’ve never done, hoping to be the last person who loses their 10 lives. This game is great for kids ages 7-10. Remind older kids to keep it clean and fun for the whole family!

  • Family members sit around in a circle and put ten fingers out in front of them to keep score. Someone starts by saying "Never have I ever..." and then stating something that he or she has never done.
  • If anyone has done that particular thing, then they lose a life and must turn one finger under. The next person in the circle then says their own "Never have I ever..." Keep going around the circle, taking turns. When someone loses all 10 lives, they are out.
  • Play continues until only one person remains. (HINT: players that are out can start a new game so they don't have to wait!)

It won't take long before younger players realize that the idea of "Never Have I Ever" is to come up with something that they haven't done, but lots of other players have.

  • Never have I ever flown in an airplane
  • Never have I ever touched a snake
  • Never have I ever worn pink
  • Never have I ever swam in the ocean


Pictionary is a family classic! Get creative with teams by playing kids vs. parents, kids and parents vs. aunts, uncles, and cousins, or boys vs. girls.


  • Paper
  • Pencils, markers, crayons, etc.
  • 60-second timer
  • List of categories: people, places, things, etc.
  • Slips of paper with different words under each category


  • Each team selects their first “Drawer,” who is not able to speak and can only draw a picture of the word they select. Each team's Drawer takes a slip of paper with a word on it.
  • Both teams draw simultaneously and the first team to guess within 60 seconds wins one point.
  • For the next round, the team who guessed correctly keeps the same Drawer, while the other team switches to a new Drawer.  If both teams get it wrong, they both switch Drawers to a different person on their team.
  • Repeat rounds until one team reaches 20 points.
  • Remember, the Drawer cannot speak, gesture, or write letters or sentences to help their team guess.

  • Kids & Families
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