Game Night: Scattergories

Scattergories, available on Amazon.com

Family game night is a fun, all-ages activity. If you read the first post in this series about Taboo, you’re becoming acquainted with my family’s penchant for games where we can get a little rowdy. This post is no exception, though I think you’ll find Scattergories is also well-suited to the quieter thinking types.

Scattergories is very simple: someone draws a card with a list of categories, someone rolls a die to select a letter, and then everyone individually comes up with words or phrases that match each category and begin with the selected letter. When the time is up, each player reads their answers and the group decides what answers will be accepted or denied (silly, desperate answers tend to be denied in our household but make for lively debate and much laughter). This type of game is a wonderful way to practice vocabulary and spelling (although technically spelling doesn’t count), and creatively integrating across developing areas of knowledge. Besides while generating their own answers, children can learn from the discussion of answers at the end of each round.

Like Taboo, Scattergories is rated by the manufacturer as being geared toward adults. And, like Taboo, I say: not so! Although your child will need to read categories and write responses, even young children can be included. Here are a few family-friendly changes you can make to the game to increase its accessibility for all ages:

  1. Increase the time allowed to generate answers. If your youngest players are running out of time to come up with answers, set a longer kitchen timer or run the game’s timer twice.
  2. Read the categories out loud before starting the timer. Any questions young children have can be addressed before play starts. As I suggested with Taboo, a certain number of passes for children when they do not know a category or cannot read it might be helpful in keeping young children engaged alongside their better-reading older siblings.
  3. Decide as a family how flexible you will be with answers. Because the group accepts or denies answers, be clear about what is acceptable and what is not. In our family, we’ve moved to an increasingly literal interpretation of the categories. Your family might find this is easiest for young children to understand, or perhaps a more flexible/creative interpretation works better (and is more fun!). Whatever you decide, be sure to discuss answers children may not understand, for instance unfamiliar words which arise in answering.
  4.  Very young children can make teams with adults who can do the writing for them. Everyone is so busy answering, a little whispering won’t put that team at a disadvantage.

Scattergories is available on Amazon for $25 and ships for free in two days with Amazon Prime. Because of its gender-fair packaging and contents, its quality, and its family appeal, Fair Play gives Scattergories 5 pinwheels.

This post is the second in a series about family games. You can read the first post here, and suggest games here.

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