fish-animal-bird a family fun game

Fish-Animal-Bird – a Simple Family Game That’s Lots of Fun

When I started dating Helen, one thing that became apparent was how her family all came together and joy each other company playing a game they called Fish-Animal-Bird. It wasn’t just the games that were fun it was how we’d sometimes all squeeze ourselves around a garden table in a greenhouse until late at night playing the game in the summer.

Once such time we also had a takeaway curry in that greenhouse. None of us had ever tried Bombay potatoes and WOW – did we know about it. I have such fond memories of those times with my future in-laws. They’re no longer with us but I do feel so privileged to have been able to spend those times with them.

What is fish-animal-bird

Fish-animal-bird is a game played with a piece of paper and pen (or pencil). Down the left, you write a series of categories – starting with fish, animal and bird. Then a letter is selected at random (easy these days with “Okay Google”) and each player must come up with something for each category. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And it is, the genius of the game is its simplicity.

We play this game now with our girls and they love it. It’s a great challenge sometimes but as you’ll see, from the categories we play with, it’s a game that challenges their knowledge and understanding of the world too.

The categories

To be honest you can come up with any categories you like for fish-animal-bird. Here’s a sample of the ones we use regularly:

  • fish
  • animal
  • bird
  • boys name
  • girls name
  • fruit
  • vegetable
  • flower
  • tree
  • country
  • river
  • fictional character
  • colour
  • film
  • song title

How to play

It’s simple. Select a letter at random from the alphabet and then everyone has to try and put an answer to each category that starts with that letter. You could put a time limit on it, maybe 5 minutes, but we generally don’t bother and it soon becomes clear when people have either completed it or give up.

The scoring is simple. If you have a unique answer for a category (i.e. nobody else picked the same one) you get 3 points if you have the same as somebody else you get 1 point. Obviously, if you didn’t put an answer you don’t get a point for that category. the challenge is deciding if an answer is valid. Back in the greenhouse, this was usually decided by a vote (although tactical voting went on there). Nowadays I simply say, “Okay Google……” and we accept that Google is always right.

Try it, you’ll love it

So, put away that TV remote control. Put down that mobile phone or tablet. Settle into a comfy chair with the family and have an hour or two of great fun and giggles.

Have you ever played this? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.



8 thoughts on “Fish-Animal-Bird – a Simple Family Game That’s Lots of Fun”

  1. I played this game quite a bit when I was younger and you’re right, its definitely something to do that gets kids away from the screen! Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

  2. We play at most family gatherings, e.g. Xmas , New Year etc with our daughter Deirdre , her husband Carl and their two girls Rosie and Alice. We have just trialled a game on Skype, just four of us, with the intention of expansion with the girls and their respective partners. We call it Boys name/Girls name, but it has evolved over the years. We used to include make of car, but it was banned as I knew names of weird makes from behind the iron curtain.
    Lots of fun enjoyed by all.

  3. I suddenly remembered we used to play this game when we were growing up back in the 50’s- we called it fish flower fruit…but couldn’t remember all of the categories, so googled it and up came your post!
    Thank you, you’re right it’s a great game to play when the family get together, and you’ve got a few more categories than we used to have, eg fictional characters and song title 🤩

    1. Aww that lovely to hear. Yes, we play this often, especially while camping. Adding in different categories make it different every time too.

  4. I used to play this a lot when I was younger. We called it Girl-Boy-Fish-Fruit and in our family we all had a weird knowledge of random fishes beginning with Y or whatever. I think our version used to just run alphabetically. Looking forward to when my little boy is a bit older to play 🙂

  5. Ours was “Town County Country”! I guess minor variations in the list as families remembered the categories was inevitable. One category not on yours was “Famous Person”.

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