16. Word tennis

Word tennis is a very simple game, and was taught to me by my daughter, Bronwen, when ten years old. She learned it in her drama group. We have adapted it slightly to make it more suitable for the family setting. So the game goes like this…

Each player is pitted against one other player. We play a version using a knockout format, so pairs of players play in the first round and second round, then the winners of each match are pitted against each other. This is very convenient for us as we are a family of four. However, nobody loves word tennis more than Bronwen so we normally let her win.

The rules are that in each round, both players choose a category. This could be anything from types of vegetables to names of people in your family. Categories we have enjoy range from the sublime to the ridiculous including, but not limited to Colours, School teachers, Dog breeds, Countries, Characters in Harry Potter, Skylanders, Shoe sizes (yes, really) and Children’s TV shows (we had to make this TV shows that are on now or else its unfair.)

Older participants are much more likely to know more individual entries in each category, so try and think of things that your children will know a lot about. Sometimes this will be obvious, in other case, not. Children are encouraged to select their specialized subject.

Each player names and object or an individual in the category, and then the other player names a different object or an individual in the category, and back to the first player ad infinitum, hence the game name Word Tennis. The players are each given ten seconds to name a new object or an individual in the category, if they fail to do this there is a countdown from the floor as in ten, nine, eight, seven….. Not literally from the floor, what I mean is that the people who are not playing in the round provide the countdown.

A player is knocked out when they fail to name a new object or an individual in the category after the countdown. Too make it totally fair, you could play so both participants get to choose one category, but we simply play ‘youngest chooses’ and the winner is usually decided pretty quickly. Players are also knocked out if they repeat the name of an object or an individual in the category that has already been named.

Finally, the winners of the first two rounds go head to head. The fun in this game can be from picking silly categories. Beware of grumpy children or adults, remember it is not about winning- just simply a way of having some enjoyable family interaction. So if the conversation goes off on a tangent, go with it and come back to the game later.