Family Game Night at its Best


If your family is like ours, then you are constantly looking for ways to connect with one another and enjoy one another with as few arguments as possible, and without the crutch of the television constantly entertaining you. Family Game Night is always enjoyable, but only if you have the right game.

We totally found that game!


First a little background:

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a dear friend from the past. Thanks to the world of Facebook we can all feel somewhat connected, but there’s something lovely about getting a personal message from someone who once played a significant role in your life.

My friend, Kirk, contacted me about a game that his wife Jane developed. He sent me the game to try out with my family, and if we enjoyed it, asked if I would tell my readers about it, and oh my goodness, we so enjoyed this game.

Instructures is a fast paced game for groups, and it forces you to work together as a team, to problem solve and strategize, and to control your desire-to-win impulses and not throw blocks at your teammates when they let you down.

Jane developed the idea for the game years ago while teaching VBS. She had the children in her group stand behind a curtain with styrofoam cups and follow her voice commands to build a structure out of the cups. If they listened well, they’d build the structure correctly – if they didn’t listen well, it would fall.

The application was to show the children how Noah had to listen closely to God to build the Ark. There weren’t drawn up blue prints. God told him what to build and how to build, and Noah had to listen closely and follow those directions.

Jane noticed how much fun the kids had playing this game, and the idea for Instructures was born.

Taking her simple idea, Jane and Kirk worked together to develop an entire game. They had a friend design the blocks, and Kirk took the designs to an Amish wood working shop in Bowling Green, Missouri and asked if they would be willing to cut the pieces for them – 38,000 of them. They had the cards and game pieces printed, gathered their Amish wood pieces, and in their basement with their children, they packaged the first 1,000 games themselves.

Then they began to tell people about it.

In 2011, Jane entered the game in a contest put on by the Mensa Society – the Mensa Mind Games. Out of 59 entries, Instructures won, and it is now being offered online, and in select stores.

When we sat down to play with the kids, I wasn’t sure if we would like it, but within minutes I realized that this game is Fun with a capital ‘F’! By the end of the game, one person in our family (who shall remain unnamed) wet their pants from laughing so hard.

gamenight2We all also realized that should we ever play this game again, we want to be on Tia’s team, because this game combines two of her greatest strengths – Competition and Bossing People Around.

There are 72 pairs of “blue prints” inside the game, and they are broken up based on difficulty. You split up in two teams, and one person on the team acts as “foreman.” The foreman from each team take one set of matching blue prints, and they look at the picture on the card and tell their teammates how to build the structure. The first team to finish shouts DONE! and the other team inspects. If the structure was built correctly, you roll the die to move forward on the board. If it was built incorrectly, you roll the die to move backward.

There are challenges on the board that up the ante, such as the foremen giving instructions without speaking, or turning around and giving instructions without looking to see if the team is doing it correctly. These added a level of suspense to the game that made it even more fun.

The game was a little too hard for Landon. He couldn’t quite keep up, so we designated him the roller of the die and mover of the pieces. He also shot this video of us playing. Notice how focused Tia is in her instructions. Lee began to worry she was going to harm him if he didn’t quickly and efficiently heed her instructions. (And yes, they won. I want to be on Tia’s team next time…)


I cannot recommend this game more highly. It is great for adults and children. It requires you to think quickly, to listen hard, and to use your wits to beat your opponent. If you’re looking for a great new addition to Family Game Night, this is it.

(Click here to order.)

Disclaimer: I was given Instructures for the purposes of review. I am not being compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Game Night


On my one night at home in a nine day stretch, I wanted to soak up as much of my family as possible.  So we agreed to have a family game night complete with a completely ridiculous kids game that, in my opinion, makes little sense but whatever.  They like it so I like it.


We finished dinner and homework and got bedtime clothes on and pulled out the board.  This is only a four person game so Lee and I shared our turn.

Wait.  Scratch that.  I played alongside the Board Game Nazi.

There are a couple of things you should know about the man of my dreams.  Besides the fact that he is all kinds of good looking, of course.

  • He is hyper competitive.
  • He controls his competitive tendencies really, really well and you would hardly know he was competitive and hated to lose unless you were, in fact, the one with the misfortune to come home with him after he loses.
  • He is particular and leans toward perfectionism.  This means he wants everything in order.
  • He hates when people mess around and waste time – especially when playing a game.


So we bring out the board and lay out the cards and we commence to playing.  We play four rounds.  Everyone gets a chance to draw first.  Midway through round one I notice my husband’s hands tremble slightly.

“Sloan…don’t bend the cards!”

“I’m not bending them!” comes the protest. 

“Yes you are.  See the crease?”

“But you bend them when you shuffle!”

“No.  Well, only slightly but see how they go back to straight when I let go?  You leave a crease.”

“Yeah,” I chime in.  “Like the creases on daddy’s forehead!  See how they stay there even after his eyebrows go down?”

Ahem.  Play on…

Then his breathing shallows a bit.

“Landon…don’t touch the pile!  Just leave it alone.  No!  Don’t mess with the carpet.  Your’e knocking the cards over.  Just sit still!”

A vein begins to protrude from the side of his head. 

“Tia, this isn’t a guessing game.  We don’t have to guess which card you drew.  Just put your card down and lay your chip on the board!  Come on, now!”  *clap, clap, clap*

At this point, I’m laughing.  Right at him.  No holds barred.  The kids are laughing too.   

Lee joins in on the laughter.  But it’s more of a ha-ha-I’m-laughing-to-release-steam-but-I-don’t-really-think-this-is-funny sort of laugh.  And then, my husband attempts to teach the kids strategy.

Have any of you ever attempted to teach a four year old strategy?  What about an almost three year old?  Anyone? 

The object of Sequence is to get four of your own chips in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally.  It’s mostly a luck of the draw type of game, but there is a bit of strategy in where you place your chips.  Tia, who happens to be the luckiest child when it comes to games, was constantly one chip away from winning.  In this case, a strategically placed chip would have set her up for victory.  Lee, being ready to end the game, was trying to help without helping.  The conversation went something like this:

“Tia, wait!  Don’t put your chip down yet.  Look at the board.  Do you see a good place to lay your chip?”

Tia shrugs.

“Look closely at all the chips.  If you put your chip here, do you think that would help?”

“I don’t wanna put my chip there,” she said.  “I wanna put it over here.” Points to a place that would not be helpful at all to ending the game helping her win.  I notice the vein pop just a little more.

“I understand,” Lee said.  “But if you put your chip right here, do you see how it would help you out?”

“But I don’t waaaaaaanna…”

*sigh*  “Okay, put your chip wherever you want.”

The next turn, Tia draws a card that would have won her the game if she had listened to the wise counsel of her father.  I’m pretty sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

And then, the vein starts muttering.  “O.M.G. If you had just listened to me you could’ve won. Mumble, mumble, mumble…”

Wait no.  It wasn’t the vein mumbling.  It was Lee.  He was shaking his head and his hands were all a-flitter with pent up energy.  And me?  I just burst out laughing again.  The vein frowned at me, then receded as Lee himself started to laugh.  A real laugh this time.

“You’re going to blog about this tomorrow, aren’t you?” he asked.

Yes, dear.  Yes I am.  Smile for the camera!