Tangrams is ideal for those seeking a peaceful problem-solving game. A game played primarily by U.S. children, Tangrams is a fun and intellectually challenging game that requires perceptual creativity. Everyone is given a complete set of geometric shapes. These are used to create larger example images that are displayed only in profile. You can purchase a set of shapes and example images, or you can find them online and create your own. To add group dynamic to this otherwise solitary game, individuals can compete to finish first. For something more communal, card games provide a classic alternative.
Tamer Talking Games
These three games are engaging without requiring anyone to jump too far from their comfort zone. The game of 20 questions, known also as "animal, vegetable, mineral," entails a volunteer to think of one thing. Everyone else tries to guess what that person is thinking about. The group can ask up to 20 "yes" or "no" questions to determine what the thing is. The game encourages deductive reasoning and imagination. "Two truths and a lie" entails a similar series of questioning; each person, in turn, shares three things about themselves, two true and one a lie. Everyone else tries to guess which one is the lie. This game allows players a more personal glimpse into each other's lives.
On the Wilder Side
These games demand a little more active participation. As an alternative to "charades," "mine rhyme" is a near reversal; instead of one person acting out a concept, one person thinks up a concept, announces something that it rhymes with, and everyone else acts out what they think it might be. The person with the concept tells each person, "no, it is not a ____," until the correct thing is acted out. Another option is an amusing alternative to "telephone," in which you alternate written statements with drawings. On a piece of paper, the first person writes a statement, then passes it on to the next person, who draws a picture to express his best interpretation of the statement. After folding the paper to hide the written statement from view, he passes it on to the next person who writes a second statement expressing the picture. The paper passes through the whole group. After it is done, the absurdity of each translation is shared with the entire group.