31. Animal impressions

All the time life is busy. There are frustrations, disappointments, and if you are an adult endless time spent on the computer and for some of us answering e-mails. Stresses and strains of everyday life take their toll, family time should be a place to relax and unwind even when as sometimes happens you have to force yourself and force your kids to abandon their computers to do the nightly, every other nightly, or weekly ritual. An animal impression is a great way to get out those frustrations. Roar like a lion for two minutes and I you will feel a whole lot better, that is if you have lion in your mix.

The game works like this. Everyone shouts out a name of an animal in turn until a list of twenty or so have been complied. Remember to include some less obvious ones like ‘worm’ ‘lizard’ and ‘seagull’.

As this is done one player, normally an adult but could be a literary child, makes a list of said animals. The list is then cut up into the individual pieces with one animal on each piece.

After that the fun begins. All the animals names are folded up so they can’t be seen from the outside. Then they can be added to a pile and shuffled around, a bag of some description is better, or put them into a hat of you have a suitable hat handy. It is an old fashioned game, but old fashioned is good, only yesterday my partner and I were discussing how, when we were children too much TV was disapproved of. Now TV is seen as valid shared family activity- at least everyone is together in one room having a shared experience as opposed to on laptops, tablets and individual devices as is frequently the case with our own children.

Then each player in turn draws an animal name from the hat. If players can’t read there will be a translator who whispers the name of the animal in question to the player (discretely out of the room is best) then sits out the round.

Players have one minute to do an impression of the animal they have selected without sounds. The rest of the players then guess the animal. In round two players are allowed to make sounds. The same player does an impression of the same animal. Again this is limited to one minute. In round two rules are the same except they can be as vocal as they like. At the end of round two, everybody guesses again.

If players get the animal correct on the first round they score two points. If they guess on round two they score one point. Although you could just dispense with the scoring system altogether, depending on how things go.

The game continues with each player getting three turns or so. This game is really good for younger children, although it may need to be adapted slightly depending on the circumstances. We have played it several times, although mostly when the children were younger.

A good idea in this case is to choose very obvious animals that children will know. Dogs, elephants and penguins are all mainstays. Sharks are relatively easy but a little advanced for very young children. Older children will enjoy owls, wolves, pandas and iguanas and even the odd but wonderful octopus.