A Family Reviews Rhyme Antics: The Game
“By the end, I just wanted to keep rapping and rapping.”
Cathleen Drake Nelson · about 2 months ago
“I’m just a little kid so I don’t have a degree.”
“I got my education mostly sittin’ in a tree.”
“Stay outside too long, you might just find yourself a flea.”
“And if I get too scared, then I’ll definitely flee.”
For that freestyle flow, my 10-year-old and my husband earned themselves 17 points: four for each basic end rhyme and five for the second use of a homophone. They also earned some mad respect from the rest of the family: They had chosen to use an “Intellectual Level” card — the most challenging option — and they sounded good!
We’ve found our new family game: It’s fun, brings out the silly in everyone, stretches vocabulary muscles, and lets the performers in our family (all my kids, to some extent) relish in the spotlight.
It’s a game we can all play, without too many competition-related breakdowns, and with my secret knowledge that one day I’ll move from Scorekeeper to Player and dominate them all.
We convinced our kids, ages 10,13, and 15, with the help of some microwaved s’mores dip (not included) that we needed all of them to play. Once we hooked them with the promise of sugar, all they needed to see was the included foam mic to be on board for the first round.
“What is this?” my 15-year-old asked. “Oh, I know, you get to be a rapper.”
The youngest family member set the bar high for delivery.
According to game designer and entrepreneur Chantel Calloway, Rhyme Antics is a “vocabulary game inspired by hip hop, where you freestyle rap using proper English.” The rules are simple enough that even I, as a self-confessed rule-skimmer, understood them quickly:
One person is a designated Scorekeeper.
The others break into two teams and name their teams. (Ours were “The Underdogs” and “Red Hot.”)
The first team chooses a rhyme level: Easy, Intermediate, or Intellectual. They select their 60-second instrumental from the Rhyme Antics YouTube channel, or find their own beat and get ready to flip the included sand timer.
The Scorekeeper pulls a card for them and shows them only the side with the rhyme verse.
They have 60 seconds to take turns freestyling rhyming verses, passing the mic back and forth.
Any actual rhyming word counts, with extra points for “bonus” words and homophones.
The Scorekeeper writes down all end rhymes and adds up the points.
The winning team has the most points after four rounds of play.
Before long, my youngest was holding the mic in one hand and punctuating the beat with her other hand above her head. She’d pass the mic to my husband, who threw in his responses seamlessly. He was smooth! The rest of us were laughing, gasping in awe, or, in my case, trying to remember to write down all the rhyme words instead of just staring, in total fascination, at the show.
Dad finally living his best life. Teenagers reacting as they will.
The Scorekeeper sees the back of the card.
Even my habitually skeptical 13-year-old was smiling and thinking up impressive rhymes by the time it was his turn. There was a quick huddle (my mom-heart leapt at the sight of their sibling heads touching in collaboration).
The 13-year old started them off:
“When I jump in the pool, I make the biggest splash.”
“I’m not shy — I’m always brash.”
“I don’t go down easy — I have to thrash.”
“When you pay me my money, please pay me in cash.”
No, “sass” doesn’t rhyme with “rash,” and you can’t use “smash” twice.
The higher the level, the more points rhyming words are worth. Wanting to catch up, Red Hot jumped up to the Intermediate Level in Round 2, and not to be undone, The Underdogs matched them. By Round 4, both teams were on the Intellectual Level. It was neck-and-neck, nip and tuck, too close to call. It was a cross between a rap battle and an elementary school grammar class. It was riveting.
How did they not get “Scout,” the actual name of our adorable puppy?!
The Underdogs pulled out two — count ’em, two! — homonym pairs: the aforementioned flea/ flee followed by sea/ see. Could Red Hot match their skills?
Did the Scorekeeper shuffle through a couple much trickier rhyme verses before finding one that would keep Red Hot feeling confident enough not to abandon the game in the face of likely defeat? Perhaps. Did we decide as a family to create a new rule allowing each team, if stalled for rhymes, to ask for one hint from the Scorekeeper? Absolutely. New rules are standard for Family Game Night.
Their rhyme verse was “You must be blind.”
The beat started.
The 13-year-old dropped what can only be imagined as a bold threat: “If you make me mad, I’ll kick you in the behind.”
His 15-year-old rapping partner switched gears by alluding to her talent for drawing: “I like my paper blank — I don’t like it lined.”
“I like the watermelon … not the rind.”
And on it went. By the 60th second, they’d delivered two homophone pairs: find/ fined and the more subtle use of kind, although spelled the same, to connote two distinct meanings.
The eldest child entertaining her own self.
We added up the points to discover that the teams had almost tied. It was 104 - 103. After quickly congratulating everyone on their good sportsmanship (our usual plan to offset loss-induced storming-off), one of the kids noticed that “rind” was listed as a bonus rhyme on the card.
It was a legitimate tie. Family Game Night perfection.
My 10-year-old is sold: “You know what I like about it? It comes with a microphone so you can practice your rapping, and use the timer, get better at it, and be like, “What’s up, my man? Yo, yo! Also, I love rapping. It’s not too much of a competition so you don’t get mad at your family members. You’re still having fun, even if you win or lose. Yo, bo, hit the bo jo.”
The 13-year-old agreed: “It was really fun family bonding time. It was hard at first and got really easy afterward. By the end, I just kept wanting to keep rapping and rapping.”
My husband added, “I feel like if you keep going, you could get really good. I could record my own album!”
Dad and kids freestyled this review:
“At first it was tough. / My rhymes were kind of rough. / But then it got better. / And I got it together.”
We won’t tell them that the last couplet wouldn’t count as a rhyme pair in this game.
As the 15-year-old observed, “It’s about creativity. And it was funny to hear what people came up with sometimes. We should keep playing this one.”
Drop the mic.
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