Review: Play These Games by Heather Swain

Play These Games: 101 Delightful Diversions Using Everyday Items by Heather Swain
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Inc
Pages: 236
Source: direct from publisher

Using simple, everyday items found around the house, Play These Games will inspire kids and the young at heart with a spectrum of ingenious games to make and play so they’ll never be bored again!

• Gather family photos to create a personalized set of Go Fish cards
• Grab loose buttons for button golf, shuffle button, and button hockey
• Unleash your inner pinball wizard with a clothespin and cardboard box version of the arcade classic
• Get out the hula hoops and brooms for a backyard jousting tournament
• Try one of fifteen variations of the classic game of Tag

Whether it’s competitive or cooperative, for large groups or duos, the games in this clever guide are fun to create and a blast to play.


Review: Play These Games is the perfect handbook for those looking for inexpensive, easy to play games for a variety of ages and number of players. This book would have been a lifesaver for me the summer I was the games instructor at my son’s day camp or even back when I had my own in-home daycare. Each game has good detailed instructions including how many players, a brief overview of the game, materials needed, prep work and how to play. While the illustrations are fairly basic, they are still easily understandable.

The games are broken down by categories such as balloons, hula hoops, paper, cardboard boxes, etc. Each category starts off with interesting tidbits about the main item. For example, did you know that “early balloons were made from dried animal bladders”? The book is filled with lots of fun, interesting facts. Most of it probably could be called useless trivia but the kids and I got a huge kick out of it.

The book kind of reminded me of the game show Minute to Win It. I like how basic everyday stuff around the house was used in fun and unique ways. One thing I would have liked to have seen included was alternate directions for some of the games involving lots of players so they could be adapted to smaller groups. Some categories like balloons seemed to have mostly games for 3+ players but buttons however were geared more for 1 or 2 players.

Finally, I like the variety of skill levels throughout. Some games such as balloon battle or house of books were pretty basic but some like the pinball machine and mini foosball were much more elaborate and will be tackled sometime in the future. My family’s favorite so far is indoor tennis.



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