Even before I started “Spanish Summer” and speaking to the niños solamente en español, we have enjoyed playing Lotería as a family. I’ve tried establishing a “Family Game Night” with varying degrees of success. Sometimes we forget for a few months, the board games collect dust, and then someone will say, “Hey, what happened to Family Game Night?”

My vision for Family Game Night is that when the kids are teenagers, it’s something they’ll still look forward to doing – it will be family bonding, a time to unplug from everything else and talk while maybe sharing a pizza before going back to our computers, cell phones, iPod headphones, and all those other contraptions that keep us separate even while sitting in the same room.

One problem is deciding on a game to play. My business-minded oldest son always wants to pick Monopoly, which I hate with a passion. My youngest son used to love “Elefun”, a plastic elephant that shot butterflies out of his trunk which we then had to catch – but the pobre elefante broke. My husband likes to play anything he can win. You wouldn’t suspect him of being competitive because he’s very quiet, but when he wins, you should see the impish grin on his face.

My favorite is Lotería, the Mexican version of Bingo. The kids have learned some Spanish vocabulary from playing it, but I just enjoy the artwork and the little riddles on the cards. We have an old-fashioned authentic looking version which we picked up at the local Latino market for around $5. We like to use real dry frijoles as markers instead of the little plastic ones that came with it.

When we play Lotería we tend to get a little silly at times. Once while I was calling out the cards I gave a besito to “El Musico”. My husband eyed me unhappily, my love for mariachi again causing a bit of celos.

In an effort to make things even, the kids decided to find a card for their father to kiss. “Here, Daddy,” one of the niños said, handing him a card with “La Dama”, (a pretty properly dressed lady.) My husband shook his head and pushed it away. “No, not that one,” he said.

He shuffled through the cards for a moment before finding “La Sirena”, the half-naked mermaid.

“This one.”

Hmph. Maybe I want to play Monopoly after all.


  1. The game cards look enchanting!

    We have Start Wars monopoly at my house… you can be a tiny metal Princess Leia and buy the Death Star! How cool is that?!

  2. I LOVE lotería! In fact, I have fond memories of playing it not just as a kid, but also at the despedida my suegra’s friends threw for me in 2007. I should dig them out and scan the cards for you – it has some funny squares on it that are related to marriage and family. On one card, there’s a picture of a witch but it says “suegra” instead. HAHA. I hope someday to be able to teach our future kids how to play lotería. And of course we use real frijoles secos for our lotería! Another game your kids might like is Mexican Train Dominoes (plus it helps with math skills) – I am a domino addict and we ALWAYS play when I visit family in Mexico or when we go on family vacations. Happy to show you the ones I’ve got and email you directions how to play, too. I’ve been meaning to blog about dominoes actually – I’ll get to it soon enough!

    • @ Maura – What I wouldn’t give for a version of Lotería with a “witch” picture titled “suegra”. LMNO! Oh man!

      I have seen Mexican Train Dominoes at the store but they looked complicated. I suck at math, but if you think it’s fun, I might have to give it a try. Hopefully your future post about how to play will help me out!

  3. Hey My Sweet Pal…this is great fun :) Yes when my daughers were much younger we played board games all the time and the hot favourite was Monopoly then and others too like snake & ladders, Uno, scrabbles is another fav.

    This game of yours is so cool and the cartoons are so vivid & colourful :D

    • @ Shionge – I used to love Snakes & Ladders. I haven’t played that one for many years! … We also have UNO and Scrabble.

  4. Two words.

    Stock. Ticker.

    Best family game ever! We have had MARATHONS of it. It requires no skill, just luck.

  5. Me encanta loteria! We play every year with the whole family for Dia de los Reyes. My aunt brings gifts for the winners and we play until all of the gifts have been passed out. She even hides money in some. I’ve never heard of the game coming with plastic pieces. We always use frijoles.

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