Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Simple Pleasure: An Old English (possibly French) Pub Game

Like most families, we are a busy bunch. Everyone is running in a different direction, making it hard to connect with one another especially during swimming and mock trial seasons. One of our family traditions that has gotten a lot of play over the years and continues to be a source of spontaneous fun for us is a game called Shut-the-Box. We keep it on the kitchen table so it’s easy to reach for anytime two or more of us are sitting down together. We’ve been playing this game since the girls were small, they’re teenagers now and it still has not lost its appeal.

According to the game, Shut-the-Box is a traditional English pub game of dice and numbers. The object is to roll the dice and lay down all the numbered tiles and “shut the box,” or be the player with the lowest score. Some say the game originated in 12th century France where it was popular with Norman sailors and fishermen as a gambling vice. Despite its salty past, it’s a great game for all ages. Yes, it teaches number sense, probability and strategy to youngsters, but more importantly it’s quick and engaging for all -- just the thing to regroup, even if all you have is five minutes with your kiddo before she’s off to the next thing.

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