Fun, free, educational game for budget-conscious parents: the Dictionary Game.
I got a good 45 minutes out that one. Almost a full hour with no electronic devices and a lot of fun. (Did I mention that there is zero cost involved too?)
The rules are simple.
Kid A gives Kid B a target word. Based on his/her knowledge of the alphabetical order and proportionality, Kid B will have to open the dictionary on the page where he/she thinks the target word might be. Only a Grand Master in the Ancestral Art of Guesstimation will hit the right page. Kid B writes down the "guess" page number and then has to find the correct page for the target word under 30 seconds.
The score is the difference between the "guess" page and the actual page (excellent mental calculation exercise).
Penalty points: 5 penalty points are added if it take more than 30 seconds to find the correct page.
Bonus points: 5 points deducted for giving the correct definition for the target word. And 3 bonus bonus points deducted for giving the correct definition for the first word that appears on the "guess" page.
Then Kid B picks a target word for Miser-Dad A, and so on, in rotation.
The player with the lowest score after five rounds is the winner.
For forty minutes it was great fun, entertainingly competitive and, well, educational.
Then Mimi started reading out loud the definition of "shit" in the Oxford dictionary. She and Finn were rolling around the place in fits of laughter. The expressions that use the word "shit" were particularly entertaining, and the laugh-o-meter reached the 80 decibels zone with "the shit hits the fan" and "going up shit creek without a paddle".
Mrs Raheny came back from her night course at precisely that moment. Obviously.
She still refuses to believe that we invented an educational game that does not cost a cent and distracts the under 12 from Fortnite or Netflix for more than 30 minutes...