The autumnal season is upon us, and the first thing I noticed (before the falling leaves and cooler temps) is how quickly darkness arrives! Calling the kids indoors from their outside play has made our evenings seem so much shorter.

Instead of resorting to the television or video games, we are trying to keep their active imaginations and little bodies bustling with some fun family game time! Family games need not be budget breakers or difficult to pull off. In fact, they can be played using some simple items found around the house.

Have you ordered Chinese takeout lately? Even if the answer is “no,” chances are good there are a couple pairs of chopsticks already in the kitchen. I know I always have some on hand, right next to all of the ketchup packets and napkins we seem to accumulate from those nights when cooking was just not an option! Gather them up, because I am going to teach you a few simple and fun family games you can play tonight using those chopsticks!

Chopstick Races

Supply list:

  • A pair of chopsticks for each player
  • Two bowls
  • Marshmallows
  • A couple of marbles
  • A couple of Q-Tips

How to play:

Each child needs a pair of chopsticks, and each child (or team) will need two bowls and a number of marshmallows, marbles, or Q-tips.

Place the bowls about 6 to 8 feet apart on tables or chairs. Put the objects in one of the bowls. When you call “start,” each child must pick up one of his objects, using only his chopsticks, and carry it to the empty bowl. He then returns for the next object, continuing until he has moved all the objects safely across and is the winner.

Hands must not be used at any time! If an object is dropped, it must be picked up and put back in the first bowl. You are only allowed to move one object at a time.

Make this game easier, or more difficult, by varying the objects. Marbles are hardest, marshmallows are easiest!

Needle in a Haystack

Supply list:

  • A mixing bowl for each child
  • A pair of chopsticks for each child
  • Enough dried rice to fill the bowls
  • A dozen or so small toys such as cars, marbles, erasers, etc.
  • A clock or timer
  • Blindfold

How to play:

In this version of the Needle in a Haystack game, the uncooked rice is poured into large bowls. The game organizer mixes up the small, age-appropriate toys into the bowls of rice and places a bowl in front of each child. With blindfolds covering their eyes, the kids then try to find as many items as they can in 60 seconds. The child who retrieves the most items wins!

The Lemon Roll

Supply list:

  • A pair of chopsticks
  • One lemon
  • A timer

How to play:

This game is a favorite in our household! It is so easy, but we laugh until we are blue in the face! To play, you will make teams of two. The objective? Get the lemon from you to your partner and then back again in the quickest time.

The tricky part: No hands can be used. Only your chopsticks can manipulate the lemon. My kids have poked at the lemon like a pool ball, scooted it, even pierced the lemon with the chopsticks to securely carry it to their partner! Seeing the lemons roll all over the place and all of the laughter makes for a great time!

Not only are these games fun and entertaining, but using chopsticks can help develop the following skills:

  • Hand and eye coordination
  • Finger isolation and manipulation
  • Grasping
  • Hand strength and endurance
  • Fine and visual motor skills

So call the kids in when the sun sets, and whip out the chopsticks! These family fun games are simple to play and hardly cost a dime.


Beat Evening Boredom: Family Friendly Chopsticks Games