Our lights went out in the storm yesterday. As the sun went down I was in a quandry over how I could productively use my time. Today I have ten suggestions for family fun when the lights go out.
1. Sing, whistle, or hum: Name That Tune
If you know the words, sing hymns and songs together. If your repertoire is small, hum or whistle them together, or try a few rounds of “Name That Tune” where one person hums or whistles a tune and the rest of the family tries to guess the name of the song. Whoever names it correctly gets to whistle or hum the next tune.
2. Twenty Questions Game
To play this game, one person thinks of a person, place, or thing. For instance if she is thinking of Cinderella she would say she is thinking of a person. Then all other family members take turns asking questions that may only be answered with yes or no. For instance, a question might be “Is this person a female?” in which the answer would be “yes.” It works best to use logical questions to narrow down the possibilities instead of trying to guess names of people at the beginning. Players may ask up to twenty questions in turn. Whoever guesses correctly gets to think up the next person, place, or thing. If no one guesses it in the first twenty questions, the person who thought that round up wins the round. That person gets to think up another person, place, or thing.
3. Remember When Stories
Share “remember when” stories about days gone by. This is good for all ages – even children have backstory. Retell events from family vacations in the past, family reunions, remembering playmates who moved away. Mom and Dad can share about their childhood experiences, and children can explore their counterpart forms of entertainment.
4. Talent Show
Use your flashlights for spotlights on your “stars” as they sing, dance, recite, or perform skits. Everyone can get in the act one way or another. Invite your neighbors to join you… What fun!
5. Games from the Game Closet
Look in your game closet and pick the games that don’t require reading: Spread out your Twister game on the floor. It doesn’t take much light to see the big colorful dots. Checkers and chess don’t require much light. Parcheesi is another game that requires no reading apart from counting the dots on the dice. A flashlight will provide enough light for that if your candle isn’t bright enough.
6. Simple Yarn Crafts
Did you know there are ways to knit and crochet using only your fingers? The finished products are small, but they can supply hours of fun and provide a simple introduction to knitting and crochet. And even in dim light, you can use a combination of touch and vision to know what your are doing. Here is a YouTube video that shows how to do finger knitting. I recommend bulky yarn for this project. Search “Google – Images” for ideas of things to make from finger knitting.
Finger Crochet is a little trickier, but a chain stitch is pretty simple. Here is a YouTube video for making a finger crochet chain. I noticed on another video that the yarn was tripled using three strands together for making finger crochet. Here is the next step, but it gets more tricky and probably needs more light. I included it so I don’t leave you hanging with this craft – finish it when the lights come back on.
Another yarn activity is covering a wire hanger with yarn using a simple macrame-type knot with two strands of yarn at a time. The directions for this can be found on this blog post I wrote earlier. I know this can be done with little light, as I tried it last night when the lights were out.
7. Flashlight Hike
Take a walk with your flashlights if the storm has passed and it is safe to go outdoors. Wait until there is no lightning flashing in the sky.
8. Pig Latin
Now is a great time to teach your kids to talk Pig Latin. For those too young to remember, talking Pig Latin requires picking your words apart a little and re-arranging the letters. Every word ends with the sound “ay.” Take your word – ok, use the word “word” – take the first two letters (sometimes only one letter) off the front and put them on the end:
Now add “ay” and you get “rdwoay.” Have fun trying to pronounce it. This happens to be an example of a word that would be easier to pronounce if you only moved one letter to the end. Isn’t “ordway” easier to pronounce? Now let’s try a sentence:
Who turned out the lights?
Owhay urnedtay touay ethway ightslway?
On that last word, keep the gh silent. You may also have to fudge a bit and put only the first letter at the end to make it easier to pronounce the word. That is also acceptable. Pig Latin is meant to be fun, not hard. Once you get the hang of it try to hold a conversation in Pig Latin. This is a great way to think phonetically as you twist words around.
After doing my best to write this out, I discovered a website that does a better job of explaining it. This comes from the Pig Latin Web Page.
There might be some grandparents who remember this Pig Latin Song from days gone by. I found it on YouTube.
9. Share Bible Verses
See how many Bible verses you can quote by heart. Let everyone try. If they can’t quote it exactly, let them paraphrase. Then look them up later when the lights come back on – or get your flashlight out and look them up now. Offer a prize to the one who can say the most verses correctly.
10. Pray Around the World
Instead of dwelling on how bad you have it when the lights go out, think of people around the world to pray for who have situations much worse than yours. Consider those who lost their homes to fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes; people in areas where there is famine; people who are being persecuted for their faith; people who never had electricity in the first place… Also remember relatives and friends and neighbors who might need prayer. By praying in these circumstances, you will help instill an attitude of gratitude in the hearts of your children – attitudes that may comfort them again and again in times of stress.
Have fun the next time the lights go out. But then, you don’t have to wait until a storm comes – you can just turn the lights and TV off anytime and give these ideas a try. It might help you to plan ahead better for when the real thing happens – like purchasing yarn or checking out the game closet when you can still see to find everything…
What kinds of things did you find to do with your children when the lights went out in the late evening? What ideas can you share?
This post was written by Janice D. Green, author of The Creation and The First Christmas.