Hues and Cues (affiliate link) is a fast-paced color game that all ages can enjoy together. It’s easy to learn and can be adapted to suit a variety of situations. From the classroom to family game nights, this is a game that’s fun to play for any group, no matter the age or skill level.
How to play
The object of Hues and Cues is to score points by correctly guessing the color another player is describing. The cue-giver can also earn points when players correctly guess (or come close to guessing) the color they’re describing.
The player whose turn it is takes a card and chooses a color to describe using a one-word (first round) or two-word (second round) cue. The trick is you can’t use actual color names, like red, yellow, blue, etc. Instead your cue must be a thing that makes people think of that color.
So instead of describing a color as “yellow”, you might say, “butter”. (Using the words “lighter” and “darker” are off-limits as well.)
As you may have already surmised, this is more of a guessing game than a game of strategy! Some serious game players might be put off by that. But on the plus side, this could be why people who usually don’t like playing games, enjoy this one.
Playing Hues and Cues doesn’t require a big time commitment…. it doesn’t drag on or take hours to play. (I’m looking at you, Monopoly!)
Ways to play
A color game for ‘Family Game Night’
This is a great game to play for mixed ages… elementary-aged kids and their grandparents can enjoy this game together. While the box says “ages 8 & up”, younger kids can also have fun with this. It just depends on the child’s ability to associate colors with things they’ve seen.
A color game for the classroom
For early finishers or free choice time
This art-based game will be equally at home in an art classroom, or any classroom. In the Art Room, it makes a great extension activity after a color mixing lesson like my Create Your Own Color Wheel or Mix 100 Colors (both available in my TPT Store).
Even aside from any fine art application, it’s eye-opening for kids to see how others can view colors so differently than they do. It encourages creativity both in how they see the world and how they communicate with others.
This color game also presents a perfect opportunity to introduce students to the concept of “local color“.
What is local color?
The colors described in Hues and Cues provide a great example of “local color”. Local color, or natural color, is the color we identify something as, such as a “red” apple. When seen in daylight, ignoring any shadows, shaded areas, and reflections, we would say, “This apple is red.” But in taking a closer look, the highlighted and shaded areas may be anywhere from a light pink to a reddish brown in actual appearance.
Teachers can get creative with different ways to use this color game as a center during rotations. One idea would be to open the game board and post some cues for the colors you want students to guess. Then write down their coordinates and keep them a secret!
For example, you could post the cues: spinach, daffodil, eraser, and dolphin. Then students would choose the colors on the gameboard they think best match your cues and write down their coordinates. Later, you could reveal the colors that inspired your cues, and enjoy a lively discussion about color perception and creative naming.
You could also challenge students to see how many different colors on the board they can create a matching cue for. Or have them come up with creative color names for as many different colors on the board as they can .
A color game for FaceTime calls
I also heard of someone whose child played this game with a grandparent over FaceTime. Both players would need to have their own game board for this to work. But what a fun way to connect across the miles and across generations.
A color game ‘icebreaker’
Mixed groups (men, women, adults, and children) of up to 10 people can play Hues and Cues at one time. This game inspires both conversation and laughter with some of the cues people come up with!
For maximum enjoyment, I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend modifying the rules a bit, though. I offer some “situation-specific” modifications below.
How to modify the rules
After playing this color game, you’ll probably have ideas about how to modify the rules for your own specific needs. Here are some of my suggestions you could also try.
Sometimes it can take too long for people to come up with cues for the color on their card. For young kids, you may want to let them look at the board and just choose a color they have an idea for. For adults, it can help to let everyone pick a card at once so they can be thinking about their color while the game is being played.
Another option is that instead of everyone taking turns placing their playing piece after a cue is given, have players place their piece as soon as they have their guess. This is one way to keep the game moving quickly.
It can also be helpful to suggest a theme to follow, such as food or nature. The official rules say you can’t name anything in the room where you’re playing, but for kids in a classroom, this could be helpful.
You might also consider allowing two-word clues right from the start, or even allowing a longer description. Again, it’s really up to you and what will make it the most fun for whoever is playing. It really is okay to adapt the rules when you need to… after all, it’s just a game!
Some things to consider
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these three things that could detract from an otherwise great color game experience:
- Hues and Cues is not colorblind friendly, so depending on degree of colorblindness, these folks may sadly be left out. If you know of a work-around, please leave it in the comments below!
- You will need good lighting to play this game in order to see the subtle differences between the colors. In front of a window (in daylight) is optimal, but you can play anytime as long as the lighting is good enough.
- Surprisingly, the colors on the cards don’t always perfectly match the colors on the game board. For a game where the whole point is to match colors, this seems like a big miss. I’m hoping for better quality control in their next printing. But it’s just a game, so I try to not take it too seriously and just focus on what it does well!
Overall, this visually appealing color game would make a great addition to any game collection or a fun gift for almost anyone. Hues and Cues will help both kids and adults become more aware of the colors all around them, and mindful of the subtle differences between similar colors.
Bonus fun! If you love games with color, check out the “I Love Hue” app on your iphone or android phone. This color-based puzzle game is a great alternative for those random moments when you might otherwise start scrolling social media. It’s beautiful to look at and so rewarding each time you complete a perfectly ordered spectrum of mosaic tiles!
Scott Brady says
Hues and Cues inventor here! It can easily be played by players with color deficiencies since the game is about matching color perceptions and not about what color an apple is. How they perceive an apple’s color and how you do, should be on the same area of the board. Unless they only eat Granny Smith apples. ;)
Cheryl Trowbridge says
Wow – I never thought of it that way but it makes total sense! Thanks so much for weighing in, Scott. And thanks for creating such a fun game! :)