Since recently I did not yet had a birthday calendar in my apartment. This was because I namely dislike the very ordinary “toilet kind” of birthday calendars, see below on the left. More than a year ago I stumbled upon a very original birthday calendar on Pinterest. Immediately I became spontaneous, it has a very nice look, it is original with its clothespins and easy to maintain as well as built.
A while ago I finally gave myself the time to replicate the idea. Using the clothespins I determined what the minimum size of the wooden plank had to be, 125 [cm] in length and 25 [cm] in width. At first I tried to find an old plank of a pallet. Those often have that old look which I wanted to go for. Unfortunately none of them did met the requirements w.r.t. the size. So in the end I just bought a plank from a hardware store and sawn it to the correct dimensions.
To do the writing of the header “birthday”, the months and the names of the people I bought a white and black acrylic marker called “DECO painter matt” of the brand Marabu. To make sure that the letters on the wood of the word “birthday” would be consistent, I made a small mold out of paper. The months I just drawn out of hand, same for the names and days on the clothespins.
In the example on Pinterest the clothespins are colored. This can be achieved by coloring the clothespins with paint or by buying colored clothespins. You can find the latter by searching on children toys. I did not color them and searched for old and worn clothespins. If you do not have those you can buy new ones and put them in the watery garden and wait a week or two.
When having a training, introduction or travel with a large group there might be moments in which everyone is a bit bored or might be waiting for something or someone. For these moments you can use so called “down” time games (in Dutch dodemoment spelletjes). These are small simple games which you can do with your group. In this blog I explain a couple of down time games for you.
You will need four chairs arranged in a square (close together). Four people sit on the chairs. Proceeding clockwise, they recline onto their neighbors’ laps (keeping their feet on the ground). The chairs are pushed out from under the sitting/reclining people, leaving a floating group. How long can they keep it up? When there are no chairs available, you can use four people to play the part of the chair by standing on their hands and feet. In the video below you see it in action.
The Human Knot
One person will move out of the group and shuts his eyes. The group will stand in a circle next to each other and holds hands. After this points hands should stay connected at all times. Following everyone will move crisscross, above or underneath each other to form a human knot. The person who was placed out of the group then has the task to untie the “knot”.
The Land of No Idea
Far, far away lays the Land of No Idea. They do have people there, but no children; they have membranes, but no skin; they have no vehicles, though they do have cars and scooters. They have computers, but no modems, monitors, or keyboards. Some words do exist while others do not. The answer lies in the name of the game; The Land of No Idea. The catch is in pronunciation of the word “idea”. The correct sentence would be; The Land of no “id”. So all words with either an “i” or “d” do not exist.
Monkey, monkey, elephant
A leader tells the children that he/she can do something the others can’t, and then shows them: He/she says the sentence “monkey monkey monkey monkey elephant monkey elephant monkey monkey monkey monkey” and explains the movements that go with it: Each time you say “monkey” you touch one of the fingers on your left hand with your right index finger. The sequence is: little finger, ring finger, middle finger, index finger and thumb, and then back again from the thumb to the little finger. When you say “elephant”, you slide your index finger from the top of your index finger to the top of your thumb, or the other way round. When the leader has explained it, he/she shows them how to do it once. He/she then makes an additional movement that is hardly noticeable. Everyone has to repeat the game with their fingers. It is only when the children figure out they also need to make the additional movement that they are told they have got it completely right. A suggestion: The ‘hardly noticeable’ movement could be that, after finishing the sentence, you fold your arms, and then say to one of the children: “Now it’s your turn.”
All the players sit in a circle, and there are once again two game leaders (A and B). B leaves the room or space briefly. A asks someone from the circle to choose a nearby object, which B will have to guess. B is now called back. A begins to point out different nearby objects. For example: “Is it these trousers?” -“No”- “Is it that watch?” – “No”- and so on. B will continue to answer “No” to A’s questions, until A mentions the correct object – the one that the players previously agreed on. B will now answer “Yes”. How is that possible? How does it work? The clue is in the title – black magic. A will mention all kinds of objects that are not black. After mentioning several objects, A will mention one that is completely black. The next object that A mentions is the one that has been agreed on with the group. In other words, the game leaders know which object it will be beforehand: it is always the object that comes after the black object.
Who am I
Everyone takes a small piece of paper and writes down a name of a person that everyone knows, taking care not to show it to the person next to them. It could be someone famous or a personal acquaintance, or a fictional character, for example. You then attach the note onto the forehead of the person next to you using sticky tape. When everyone has a name on their forehead the game can begin. Taking turns, everyone asks yes/no questions about themselves, for example, “am I a woman?”, which the group then answers with “yes” or “no”. If the answer to the question is yes, the same person can ask another question; if it is no, the turn passes to the next person. The winner is the first person to work out who he or she is – the rest of the group can continue playing if they wish.
The game leader tells how a person died. The group then has to guess how the person has died and may only ask questions which can be answered with yes or no. Online you can find numerous amount of riddles or apps.
A guy is lying dead in a phone booth; the handset is off the hook, and there is glass lying on the ground outside the booth.
Solution: He called his wife to tell her how
big the fish was that he had caught. The wife asks, “How big was it?” The man
stretches out both arms to indicate the length (“THIS big!”), ramming both arms
through the glass. In doing so, he cut his wrists and died.
A man is lying dead in the forest, wearing his swimming trunks.
Solution: The man had been swimming in a
lake/ocean. A firefighting aircraft scooped him up and dumped him in a burning
forest. The man died from the fall.
A man has hanged himself from the roof of a warehouse four meters high (he is hanging two meters above the ground). The warehouse is in the desert, and there is no ladder or similar object to be found. How did he do it?
Solution: He was standing on a block of ice two meters high. The ice melted and evaporated.
A man went out on the street, saw a hotel, and knew that he was bankrupt.
Solution: He was playing Monopoly.
A sailor goes into a restaurant, eats an albatross sandwich, and then falls over dead.
Solution: He had been shipwrecked a while ago.
There had been nothing to eat on the uninhabited island. Several of his
companions had died of hunger. He and his buddy were also ravenous. His buddy
made two “albatross sandwiches,” which they quickly devoured. It now appears
that the delicacy had not been albatross at all, but one of their former
shipmates. This was too much for the man.
A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. In the morning, he takes the elevator to the ground floor to go to work. When he returns in the evening, he takes the elevator to the sixth floor and takes the stairs to the twelfth. When it’s raining, however, he takes the elevator to the twelfth floor. Why?
Solution: The man is a midget and can reach
the button for the sixth floor, but no higher … unless he has an umbrella
A man is sitting in the non-smoking section of the Swiss railways. He grabs his gun and shoots himself through the head. If he had been sitting in a smoking compartment, this would not have happened. Why not?
Solution: The man had been blind for years and
was just returning from having surgery on his eyes. The surgeon had said that
he could not yet remove the bandage from his eyes. Once in the train, however,
he couldn’t wait, and he removed his bandage. At that precise moment, the train
entered a tunnel and the compartment was shrouded in darkness. The man thinks
that the operation had failed and that he will never be able to see, and so he
shoots himself in the head. If there had been a smoker in the compartment, he
would have seen the red tip of the burning cigarette.
The smallest man in the circus
discovers sawdust under doormat: he now knows that he is growing!
Solution: As a midget, the smallest man in the
circus earns his money with his stature. He does not notice that he is growing.
To disguise this, his girlfriend regularly saws thin chips off the chair legs.
She sweeps the sawdust under the doormat.
Romeo and Juliet are lying dead on the bed, and the window is closed.
Solution: Romeo is a cat, and Juliet is a fish. Romeo choked to death while eating Juliet.
The group is in a circle. At the beginning one Viking is appointed. The two people sitting on the left and right of the Viking are the rowers. The rest is the sea. The Viking starts holding his hands like two horns to his head (like a viking helmet). Following he makes a growling Viking sound; aarrrrghh, raaaaaarrrrrrrw, et cetera. At the same time the rowers make a rowing movement (to the correct side) and say; row, row, row, row, et cetera. The people appointed as sea imitate waves with their hands and constantly say; woesh, woesh, woesh, et cetera. At a random point in time the Viking appoints a new Viking who adopts the new role and as such there will also be new rowers and a new sea.
Recently we had a game night with some friends of mine. At the start of the night we played the game “Happy Salmon“. It is a very simple game but really energetic. Every player gets a set of cards. Each card resembles an action. The goal is to get rid of your cards as fast as possible. You will have to find another player with the same action and perform it. To find another player you simply shout your action out loud in the open. The actions are either:
High five, players high five each other
Pound it, players fist bumb each other
Switcheroo, players switch places
Happy Salmon, players flip there hands against each other very fast, like two fish splashing.
The following video describes the chaos in my living room when we played the game.
As you can see the game is very energetic. However since we simply threw our cards in the air these would most likely do not hold that long. Therefor, I created my own “Happy Salmon” such that I could simply print out, cut it in pieces, and would not have to worry about cards being destroyed. In the process of creating these cards I also added some more actions. These new actions will make the game more challenging when playing with a large crowd.
The cards background are transparent, meaning that if you simply use colored paper you will nice colored cards. Most pictures are self explaining but nevertheless, the following new actions are defined:
Bro Bump, more or less the same as pound it but only with the knuckles and on shoulder height as in the picture.
Bro Shake, handshake in the air
Pinky Swear, pinky swear with one another
Hug, bit more intimate but should be fun nonetheless
Handshake, seems obvious
Teamspirit, for this action you need three people instead of two. You put each other hands on each other and cheer afterwards, something like, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGmp3zdRLyY
Teamwork, for this action you will need four people instead of the regular two. Simply hold each others arms as shown on the picture.
The cards are simply created in office. Below you can either download the source file or download the original card set or the card set with the new actions. Both files are for one player.
A few weeks ago I saw the following tweet by Bo Marit. I really liked how the quote and the symbol reference stand out in front of the text in the frame. Since, I liked them so much I decided to be a copy-cat. However, I added also another frame with a reference to Game of Thrones.
The font that she uses for the quote is called Darleston. It is a really elegant calligraphic font created by Youssef Habchi. For the book page text I used Garamond, a standard font on most computers. I chose this font because it has an oldish style to it. While this could easily be created in Photoshop or any other graphics editor, I simply recreated it with Microsoft Word, which is maybe even easier! I simply created a two column layout, added two textboxes for the quotes and the symbol image. You can download the word file here (note: you will need the fonts Darleston and Garamond) or a pdf file here. As an frame I would recommend a simple wooden frame as Bo Marit uses, I think it gives adds elegance and makes it look more humble. Furthermore, I would not use regular A4 paper to print this on. I searched for the same type of paper you often see used in books. Most likely you will find this type of paper in your local hobby store.
Finally, my result:
I plan the hang the Harry Potter frame near to a light switch, the Lord of the Rings frame near to the clock and the Game of Thrones frame near to the thermostat.
The Smuggling Game is another running game which can be played inside the forest. The game takes place inside the forest. The group is divided into two teams. One team is called the smugglers and the other the police or customs. The goal of the smugglers is to smuggle goods (cards) from one part of the forest to another part. In both parts of the forest is a game leader, one who hands out and one who collects cards. The goal of the police is to make sure that the smugglers fail at their goal. The smuggler has to hand over his card to the police when he is tapped by them. The police then hands out the collected card to a third game leader who is located in the middle of the two other game leaders. The game leader who hands out cards to the smugglers has a fixed number of cards. Shortly after the game leader is out of cards the smugglers become the police and vica versa. Of course this team switching can also be time dependent.
To actually play the Smuggling Game there is one required accessories and one optional.
required: game cards (see below)
optional: sash, for identification of both teams
A few alterations can be made to the game to make it more difficult or exiting.
If the police taps a smuggler, they do rock-paper-scissors or another simple game, to determine if the police wins the card from the smuggler. If the police loses he has, for instance, to stand still for at least 5 seconds.
Instead of one location where the smugglers can bring their cards towards to, there are multiple locations.
First the smugglers bring their cards to the first location. They can then decide to double the value of the card by bringing it to a second, more difficult to reach, location. Then they can bring to a third, et cetera.
Click on the figure to go to the Google drawing. You can download a A4 paper sheets here with the cards in the correct ratio, to be printed on colored paper. The Dutch version can be found here.
One week in the Summer I work voluntary as a camp leader at a summer camp for children. Each year there are at least three summer camps for different ages. The camp accommodation is located in the Veluwe which is a forest-rich ridge of hills in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands. Hence a lot of the activities take place inside the forest. Every camp leader organizes some games/events for the children. This year I organized four events.
The last two games I want to share with you. In this blogpost I explain the details of Stratego Alive. In another blog I will give the details about the Smuggling game.
Stratego Alive is a variation on the strategy board game Stratego. It is a running game and is to be played in the forest. The group is divided in two or more teams. All teams have their own playing field, i.e. part of the forest, in which they hide their flag, note that the flag must still be, partially, visible . The flag can be for instance a colored towel or an old ripped bed sheet with some colored paint on it. The goal of the game is to capture the flag of the opposing teams.
Every team has at least one game leader. The game leader sits on a fixed location somewhere in the part of the forest of that particular team. The game leader hands out every player a card. On the card the rank is shown and depending on the card also some extra info. The table below shows the ranks. In general it holds that the card with the highest rank wins. If a player wins the player who lost gives his card to the winning player. Both players must then return to their respective game leader, the winning player is to hand in the card of the losing player. The losing player is to obtain a new card.
Loses against the Spy if Spy taps first.
Wins against Bomb
Wins against the Marshal if Spy taps first.
Loses against the Miner. Cannot tap anyone
The Marshal is the highest rank and wins from all other cards, except if it is tapped by the Spy. The Spy is the only character which wins from the Marshal if he taps first. It is to be noted that sometimes children fight over who tapped first regarding the Marshal and Spy, therefore the rule can also be changed such that the Marshal always losses against the Spy regardless of who taps first. The Bomb is somewhat similar to the Marshal it also wins from almost every card accept that the Bomb cannot tap other players by himself and loses against the Miner.
If the rank is equal there are two rules which one can enforce, (i) either the two players exchange cards and return to their game leader or (ii) the two players ignore each other and continue playing.
This is Stratego Alive. This game can easily be themed when the game is to be played into a certain setting, for instance, pirates. You simply change the name of the Marshal to Captain Hook, General to Jack Sparrow, et cetera.
To actually play Stratego Alive there are two required accessories and one optional.
required: game cards for every team (see below)
required: flag for every team
optional: sash, for identification of each team
Click on the figure to go to the Google drawing. You can download a A4 paper sheets here with the cards in the correct ratio, to be printed on colored paper. The Dutch version can be found here. Credits regarding the graphics of the cards go to Sjoerd.