Museum hosts free ‘Decades of Play’ event

Lawn-versions of classic games including Jenga, Twister and Anagrams will highlight the Free Family Day at The History Museum of Hood River County on Saturday.

The theme is “Decades of Play.”

The museum will be setting up stations throughout the museum and around the building on the lawns and sidewalks that will allow kids and families of all ages to come and experience play using games and activities from the past century — and earlier.

Lincoln Logs, croquet and hopscotch are more examples, and there will be chess on a rare Watergate set from the 1970s.

The History Museum is partnering with local organizations to bring a fun-filled free day.


Family Fun Day is Saturday, July 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, located at 300 E. Port Marina Drive in the Port Marina Park, accessible via exit 64.

“Museum admission is also included in the day’s activities so it’s a great way to experience the new museum space,” said Connie Nice, museum coordinator. “I wanted to plan this Family Day to create a fun multi-generational experience that was both exciting and educational.”

Craft tables will also be set up along with a bubble play area, a play dough station and Plexiglas painting station.

All activities, crafts and museum admission are being providing by grant funding from Faith Connections with assistance from Our Redeemer Lutheran and Asbury Methodist Partnership.

A free hot dog lunch will be provided by the Hood River Volunteer Fire Department for the first 250 guests.

Games will include everything from the Native American game called Picara, which is an early form of geometric checkers, to an original Atari computer from the 1970s.

Other games include:

Graces: A popular activity for young girls during the early 1800s, it was invented in France during the 19th century and called le jeu des Graces. It was considered a proper activity benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful.

“Our version, which is less graceful and more active, was recently put to the test by kids at Dig into History kids camp and passed with flying colors,” said Museum Coordinator Connie Nice.

Jenga: Jenga, derived from a Swahili word meaning “to build,” was created by Leslie Scott and is based on a game that evolved in Scott’s family in Africa in the 1970s using wooden children’s blocks from Ghana.

Anagrams: According to some historians, anagrams originated in the fourth century BC with the Greek poet Lycophron, who used them to flatter the rich and mighty. The Family Day version will be a huge lawn-sized one created by museum volunteer Ralph Staley.

Cat’s Cradle: Cat’s cradle may have originated in China or Korea. It is a sequence game played with a string.

Atari: The Atari 400 was designed in the late 1970s as a computer primarily for children. The computer had few built-in programs, and instead ran off of cartridges.

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