"Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit."


Family Life

"Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit." Those the National Association for the Education of Young Children intended for these words to reference children specifically, the same can be said for all who take the time to enjoy games. Every year, new games hit the shelves beside enduring classics. One of the most durable games--Jenga--has gained fans worldwide.

 

"The collapse, when it comes, is dramatic, and even rather beautiful, leaving no room for argument. Furthermore, though Jenga is competitive, the shared process of building a tower higher and higher tends to induce a clubbable, all-in-this-together atmosphere among ­players, so that tiffs and tantrums are avoided," says Craig Brown in his Mail Online article, 1,000 Things to Avoid Before You Die, giving a terrific example of the fun that Jenga can bring to the whole family. 

 

Jenga, the well-known tower building game, is played by millions of children, adults, and families around the globe. A game of physical and mental skill, players pull or push individual blocks from an 18 story tower (each story consisting of three blocks) and then place the removed block on top. The last player to successfully remove a block and place it on top before the tower topples is the winner! Chances are, if you've played Jenga you love it, but how much do you actually know about the game? Below are ten easy-to-remember trivia facts to share with your family on your next family game night or with your friends at your next party!

 

1. In Swahili the word jenga means "to build".

 

2. Jenga originated in West Africa. It was invented by the Scott family. Leslie Scott, a young girl at the time, went on to launch Jenga publically and become a well-known board game designer.

 

3. Alder was the wood used to make the original Jenga blocks. Alder trees are also used to build houses and furniture and grow mainly in The Pacific Northwest.

 

4. Ta-Ka-Radi is a game that is almost identical to Jenga. The difference is that it is played with 50 blocks stacked on their narrow sides with gaps in between, instead of 54 blocks stacked on their broads sides without gaps in between.

 

5. There was some controversy in the 1980s between the manufacturers of Jenga and the manufacturers of Ta-Ka-Radi over the origins of the game. The manufacturers of Ta-Ka-Radi, the Parson's family, claimed they were given a sample of the game by an African friend and that the game had been played in West Africa "for decades". Surprisingly, it turns out the friend actually learned of the game on a stay with the Scott family and no such version of the game existed before they started playing it.

 

6. The current world record for the highest Jenga tower is 40 and 2/3 levels. The American importer of the game, Robert Grebler, accomplished this incredible feat. He attributes the world record to the expertise he gained from demonstrating the game so many thousands of times. If you think you can beat him (and you have enough blocks), you should give the record a try yourself!

 

7. Top long distance runners have used a game of Jenga to relax before big races like the Boston Marathon!

 

8. Jenga is played and sold in over 50 countries.

 

9. There are many versions of Jenga today, including a bible version, a truth or dare version, and a Las Vegas style roulette version. Jenga has even made its way into video games and is a popular title on the Nintendo Wii console.

 

10. Variations of a Jenga drinking game--easily adapted to be nonalcoholic--are increasingly common at parties. A popular way of playing is to label individual blocks with rules such as "take one drink," "take two drinks," and "give one drink." After pulling a block that player has to follow the instructions on the block before placing it on top of the tower. The player that knocks down the tower has to finish their drink! Be creative; feel free to adapt to your own purposes.