Post-dinner mini sticks. I can’t remember how it started, or when, but after my brother and I finished our broccoli each night, the living room got transformed into an arena. Dad’s shoes were the net and the rules were simple but quirky. The first player to score three goals on the goaltender was crowned champion until the next night’s game. Our special, family-made sport was a fun a tradition but didn’t come without some “house rules”:
- No mini sticks on the ceramic floor. If the ball leaves the arena (the carpet), it must be played back in gently.
- If the ball goes under the dining room table, same rules apply as above. The tangle of chairs and sticks does not make Mom happy.
- If your shot deflects off the artificial tree and goes in the net, the goal is disallowed. Artificial trees in the ’90s were not your friend.
Admittedly, our game was intense — and not for every house guest, as we soon realized — but it was unique to our family and a tradition in our home. This cherished memory got me thinking that other families must have their own version of “mini sticks”, or a favourite activity that they invented. So we asked the Active for Life community to share their own family-made games and were wowed by the creativity of each response.
Here are a few:
- In an adaptation of the popular summer activity croquet, Shannon shared on Facebook that her husband’s family insists everyone plays barefoot to keep people from hitting the ball too hard.
- Facebook member Erik commented that he and his sister invented a game called “floor ninja” — a modified version of “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” — on the kitchen floor. As the first person turned with their eyes closed and called numbers, the “ninja” would hopscotch the ceramic tiles and strike a balancing karate move at the end.
- Jennifer on Facebook shared another great family-made game called “fitness bocce.” Following regular bocce rules, the person whose ball lands closest to the white ball chooses an action for the others to do. Favourites include squats, jumping jacks, and life-sized rock-paper-scissors!
- Active for Life role model Karen and her kids make hiking more fun by riding “horsies” down the trails, making “gates,” and using secret passwords to go through.
- Catherine wrote to Active for Life: “Kitchen soccer is a fave here. A soft cloth ball; I protect the big patio door goal while the kids protect the normal archway goal … it’s a Canadian winter thing, lol!”
- In a Twitter response, @AlexVice28 replied that many hours at the cottage were spent playing “scolf,” a combination of soccer and golf on sand.
- Another family-made summertime game shared on Twitter was “wet t-ball.” @kristiyork19 and her sister invented a game for their kids using a sprinkler and old placemats.
- Active for Life managing editor Blaine and his cousin would spend their summers playing made-up games like “knee hockey.” With a rolled-up pair of socks (no bouncing) and the occasional spatula stick, a variation of hockey was born. The only timeouts allowed were to reassemble the socks that often came apart during slapshots.
Whether you create your own game or blend the rules of a classic, playing together means developing skills while having fun and making lasting memories. So why not see what your family can come up with together? Your kids will thank you for it.