Children and adults of all ages enjoy playing games; growing up in a family with five siblings, our family played a variety of board and card games at night, after dinner, to entertain ourselves. And Rachel Todd, the protagonist of my novels, and her family enjoy them as well.
While many games are played for sheer amusement and entertainment, there are those that have been created to be educational; to teach strategy, mental and physical skills, and to encourage competition and sportsmanship, which may be learned as players engage in the activity.
In all of my novels, my characters frequently engage in indoor games and outdoor sports activities. Rachel’s children and grandchildren are commonly seen in the parlor, the family meeting place, occupied in playing a board game, or listening to music; or they are outdoors engaged in healthy playful interactions that aren’t just fun; their activities assist them in developing interpersonal relationships, and communication skills.
In my fourth novel, Out of the Miry Clay, I created a game called “Build a Story” for Rachel’s grandchildren to play during one of their many visits to her home. This simple word game was designed to educate, to stimulate the imagination, and encourage a child’s creativity.
Another interesting word game that teens and adults enjoy is anagrams; a game in which you form new words by rearranging the letters of other words. This game plays a very interesting and important role in my newest novel, The Doorkeeper.
Anagrams, while an amusing recreational activity, are often created for other purposes. When authors or other artists chose to adopt a pseudonym in their writing, they sometimes use an anagram of their given name or some facet of their identity, to create their new name. Jim Morrison, Ted Morgan, Vladimir Nabokov and Voltaire all used anagrams in some way.
Companies, in their marketing strategies, sometimes use anagrams in creating names for new products. And, at times, movie titles are fashioned from an anagram of another title. Rocket Boys, a book written by Homer Hickam, Jr., became a movie titled October Sky.
Word games and board games, especially those that teach strategy and skill, can be as beneficial to the human mind and spirit as physical games and exercises are to the human body; both may assist in the strengthening and development of an individual.
Games have many purposes, amusement and entertainment often being the greatest reason we engage in them. However, in my novels, I use these activities to stress the importance of developing stronger relationships. In our world of technological advancement, its easy to get caught up in a “cave dweller” mentality where we spend less and less time actually relating, one on one, to other people. Our time and days are easily eaten up by work and activities in which we communicate more with strangers than those we truly love. Therefore, it is my hope that my readers will be encouraged to emulate my characters by increasing their simple interactions with each other. If technology is taking over your family, why not take a holiday from your computers, televisions, ipods, and telephones, and sit down with those you love and engage in some recreational activity that not only stimulates the mind, but creates a fun atmosphere where you not only form a stronger bond with those you love, but you form lasting memories as well.
Playing games with their children also creates opportunities for parents to impart something of their personal beliefs, ethics and moral values to them while they are young and impressionable. This holds true for all relationships where children come under the tutelage of a teacher, coach or even peers; children are subjected to the ethics or moral values of numerous people; therefore, parents should endeavor to insure that those who are in a position to influence their children are those who share their common values.
There are a number of ways to teach children the lessons we want them to learn to grow and develop into men and women of honor and integrity. Games make learning fun; use them in a loving and constructive way.
5And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. KJV
6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. KJV
Those who might enjoy engaging in some fun will find a list of interesting anagrams below; see if you can decipher them. The answers are below.
I’ve also included the instructions and a simulation of my “Build a Story” game, which can be easily adapted to suit your child’s level of academic competence.
The country side
The Morse Code
The United States Bureau of Fisheries
The United States of America
A Decimal Point
Statue of Liberty
Eleven plus two
New York Times
Dormitory = Dirty Room
Schoolmaster = the classroom
Listen = Silent
Western Union = No Wire Unsent
The country side = No City Dust Here
Postmaster = Stamp Store
The eyes = They see
The centenarians = I can hear ten "tens"
The Morse Code = Here Come Dots
Conversation = Voices Rant On
Butterfly = Flutter-by
The Hilton = Hint: Hotel
The United States Bureau of Fisheries = I Raise the Bass to Feed Us in the Future
Snooze Alarms = Alas! No More Z's
Vacation Times = I'm Not as Active
The Detectives = Detect Thieves
The United States of America = Attaineth its cause, freedom
A Gentleman = Elegant Man
Presbyterians = Best In Prayers
A Decimal Point = I'm a Dot in Place
Statue of Liberty = Built to Stay Free
Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one
New York Times = Monkeys write / Monkey writes
Build a Story
The game began with one of the adults holding a list of spelling words, which were all connected by a common theme. Going around the table; the leader assigned one word to each child. The leader then began the story with one sentence; when she stopped the person next to her created a sentence that added to the story using the spelling word she had been assigned.
I’ve recreated a portion of the story below, and included the list of spelling words. This type of game encourages children to use their imagination, and creativity.
Spelling words: treasure, pirates, jewels, doubloons, island, sailing ship.
“My word is TREASURE,” the leader said. “While walking down the street one day,” she began enthusiastically, “my eyes fell upon an open map laying face up with the words ‘buried treasure’ written in the center.”
When the teacher finished she pointed to Eliza who was next.
“I picked up the map and put it in my pocket in case any PIRATES were around.”
“When I looked at the map later, I noticed it had a picture of a big golden sea chest filled with enormous JEWELS drawn on top of a large X,” Dari added at her turn.
“But what I really wanted was the bag of DOUBLOONS I saw sitting on top of the jewels,” E.J. said with pleasure.
“The treasure was buried on a big ISLAND in the ocean,” Riley said shyly.
“So I packed my bag and hopped aboard a magnificent SAILING SHIP in search of my prize.” Michael said pleasantly ending the story.
“Nice touch, Mike,” Charlotte praised. “You all did exceptionally well and I’d like to add a little Scriptural comment: in the Bible it says, ‘all who seek shall find.’ And since today’s topic has been buried treasure, you will find some treasure buried in the sandbox out back.” The leader had barely dismissed the children when they raced outdoors to search for their rewards, which Patrick had hidden earlier in the morning.
“What a great game that is!” Chloe said. “I can’t wait for Caitlin to be old enough to participate.”