36 Fun Word Games for Kids To Help with Vocabulary & LiteracyAll Posts
Written by Melanie Arden
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If kids (and some adults) had it their way, they'd play games all day. Fortunately, fun word games — targeted toward growing literacy — can help a lot when it comes to developing kids' reading and writing skills.
As they play, kids can grow their vocabulary by pronouncing and learning to spell each new word. You'll notice their confidence increases and its positive effect on their schoolwork. What could be better?
To benefit from your child’s love for play, make educational games a regular part of your family time. Older and younger kids benefit from these games, too. You'll be impressed by the number of new words they learn
Throughout this post, we'll cover how word games help your kids, offer several games to choose from, and outline how Prodigy supports your child with game-based learning.
Ready to get started?
Below, we've outlined how word games offer great value to kids.
Key benefits of word games for kids
Educational games are a boon for parents and kids. Not only do these games occupy young minds, they support literacy in a fun way. Word games make learning nouns and other parts of speech enjoyable.
Let's explore how word games benefit your kids:
- Boosts kids' ability to concentrate and focus on learning.
- Cultivates problem-solving skills. Kids learn to approach problems logically and come up with solutions to help them win the game.
- Increases vocabulary and memory. An improved memory enables kids to recall vocabulary and build upon what they've learned.
- Improves spelling and reading skills. They can practice spelling and advance their reading comprehension through daily game-playing.
- Playing games makes kids happy. It's the perfect time for them to socialize, especially if they're enjoying educational games with siblings or friends.
- Word games can offer categories to expand vocabulary. Examples of categories include colors, shapes, sounds, drawings, animals, family, and friends.
Word games provide a great way for families to bond while relishing games that promote literacy.
Online word games
Online word games serve a greater purpose than most parents realize. Start using these games at an earlier age to:
- Build reading skills. Word games can help lay the foundation to grow their comprehension skills further.
- Help your child's developing brain process information faster. Games challenge your child to keep up with fast-paced apps.
- Teach your child how to strategize and adapt to changes with complex games. These are transferable skills for problem-solving and future career opportunities.
- Develop confidence and promote teamwork.
- Learn compassion, empathy, and kindness. Well-being apps provide the perfect framework to enhance their emotional development.
Stay current in the digital world by playing new games. Learning how to use devices and computers at an early age prepares your child for school and their career.
Here's a list of several games geared toward different age groups. There's something here for everyone:
Best for: Grades 1 to 5
Prodigy Education's newest adventure invites children to build reading and writing skills in a fun, adaptive environment. Every question kids answer gives them more energy for building objects, earning coins and creating a world of their very own!
As your child plays and learns, you can follow along with their progress in your free parent account. Early access for Prodigy English is coming in January 2022, so sign up to the waitlist today for the chance to get a first look for you and your child!
Best for: Older kids, grades 6+
Wordsmith uses a tile board where 2 to 4 players come up with words within a time limit. You can get a score preview before you make a move. Whoever earns the most points, wins the game.
Best for: Ages 3 to 6
An adorable cartoon character, Princess Presto, demonstrates how to pronounce letters such as "z" and "oo" to spell the word "zoo". She offers basic instruction and delivers positive encouragement to children as they develop phonemic awareness.
4. Word Ladder
Best for: Grades 1 to 3
Word Ladder incorporates music to make this basic and entertaining game fun. It teaches kids how to write simple words based on an accompanying image. It's a terrific game to build your child's vocabulary skills.
5. Aim 2 Spell
Best for: Kindergarten to grade 8
Vocabulary Spelling City created this amazing app to teach kids how to spell and boost their vocabulary. Students choose one letter at a time from a list to spell words. Fun!
Best for: Older kids, grades 6+
Word Scramble invites kids to take a selection of vowels and constants to spell a word. For example, rearrange the letters "BCRMALES" to spell "SCRAMBLE". This game is perfect for older kids who enjoy an amusing challenge.
7. Word Search
Best for: Older kids, grades 4+
Challenge your kids' knowledge by playing this educational puzzle game. Choose puzzles from different categories, like television shows, animals, food & drink, and movies for children.
You can play this game on your computer, tablet, or phone. If you prefer to go offline, you can print the games to enjoy with your family.
Best for: Pre-K to Grade 6
ABCya Letter Blocks boasts fun spelling games for kids across a broad age range. You'll find a bunch of cool games like Alphabats and Koala Paddle Boards. Kids can make their own puzzles, too.
Best for: Grades 1 - 6
The British Council created this multi-purpose website to help kids grow their reading, vocabulary, spelling, and listening skills. Wordshake has a 16-letter grid where kids make up words in three minutes or less.
Best for: Children with substantial vocabulary, grades 6+
Parents and kids can have a lot of fun filling out crossword puzzles and quizzes. Energize family time with an entertaining yet competitive game to boost vocabulary.
11. PBS Word World
Best for: Ages 3 - 5
Word World excels at preparing children for school. They learn how to recognize and use letters to create words, vocabulary development, and emotional wellbeing. All episodes focus on a fun journey interrupted by an issue that can be solved with one word.
Looking for more games? We've got you covered! These 20 online browser games will keep your child engaged and motivated to learn.
Traditional word games
Almost everyone has played a classic word game using a pen and paper. Some of the most beloved word games benefit kids' English fluency, deepen vocabulary and enhance writing skills. Best of all, these word games are portable!
1. I Spy
Best for: Preschool to grade 3
The I Spy game encourages kids to learn how to take turns to speak without interruptions. It's a great social skill-builder for kids of all ages.
I Spy works perfectly as a multiplayer game. One person chooses an object and prompts the others to guess the correct answer. For example, they start with, "I spy with my little eye... something thin and yellow". When someone guesses the answer is a pencil, that person wins the game.
Best for: Grades 1 to 6+
Crossword puzzles make learning new words more fun. They're a great way to build vocabulary and boost spelling skills. Printable crossword puzzles come in various themes, including antonyms, dental health, state capitals, chemistry, and other neat topics.
Best for: Grades 1 to 6
Hangman is a longtime favorite pen and paper game where you try to find the missing letters that make up a word. When you have enough letters, guess the correct word before the hangman is complete.
Best for: Preschool to grade 8
Word searches help kids learn to spell, enhance productivity, develop social skills and build problem-solving abilities.
Click here to find word search puzzles based on your child's grade level. These printable worksheets will entertain your child while improving their concentration and spelling skills.
Best for: Ages 3 to 7
The Shopping List board game enables children to develop memory skills and promote observational or social abilities. Created for two or more players, kids shop against other players. Whoever grabs everything on their list first wins the game.
6. Tutti Frutti
Best for: Ages 4 and up
Parents, get your kids interested in playing with fruit! This board encourages kids to find and put together two identical fruit halves. The first person to have the most whole fruits wins!
Tutti Frutti’s strengths include focus, concentration and speed. Your child will love this lively game.
Best for: Grades 1 to 6
Letter Ladders need two players or more. If you don't have a whiteboard at home, a pen and paper work great.
Start by writing words like "hope" at the top. Ask your kids to change one letter at a time to add new words in a column. So, if you wrote "hope", the next word could be "rope". Begin shifting letters to come up with new words like "ripe" or "knife" to add to your list of words.
Letter ladders enhance focus, literacy, observation spelling and vocabulary skills.
Best for: Grades 1 to 6
Broken Telephone works best when you have three or more players. It's a fun game for the whole family that encourages kids to listen carefully, be patient and take turns.
Select one person to come up with a word or short phrase like "what's for dinner" or "silence is golden". Start by whispering the phrase in the next person's ear. If they misunderstood the phrase, it cannot be repeated to them. Keep whispering the same phrase until you arrive at the last person who repeats the phrase as they heard it.
Be prepared for a lot of laughs when words come out wrong!
9. Think Pink
Best for: 4 years old and up
Show your kids how to come up with rhyming pairs like "blue dew" or "owl towel". The words don't need to have similar spelling. They just need to sound alike.
Rhyming promotes language development, listening, and writing skills. Oh, and it's a lot of fun!
10. Words in Words
Best for: Grades 1 and up
Distribute a pencil and paper to each player. Select one person to come up with a word. Each player must write that word at the top of their paper. The object of the game focuses on taking letters from the keyword and coming up with new words. The person with the most words wins the game.
Vocabulary games make a world of difference in your child's life. Begin working with them at an early age to enhance their learning throughout their school years.
Here's a list of benefits associated with vocabulary games:
- Increased memory
- Improved problem-solving skills
- A great confidence boost
- Learn spelling rules, grammar, and, of course, vocabulary
- It's fun and motivates kids want to continue learning
We've found ten vocabulary games you can enjoy at home.
1. Word association
Best for: Ages 6+
Basic word association games start with one word. Ask your child to come up with a word that comes to mind. If possible, it should connect to the keyword. You can find keywords from categories like food, hobbies, sports, colors, and countries.
There are many word association games to choose from:
- Relatable words
Each of these games promotes literacy and an increased vocabulary.
Best for: Grades 1 to 8
Pyramid requires several players to make it a fun game for your family. It promotes team-building, cooperation, and increases your child's vocabulary.
To play this game, divide the members of your household into teams. One person on each team draws a pyramid and adds six words in three rows to create a triangle shape. Whoever holds the pyramid must give clues to their teammates so they can guess the correct word. You'll receive a point for each correct guess.
Remember to impose a time limit based on your child's age.
Best for: Grades 1 to 6 and ESL students
Synonyms help kids to achieve a greater understanding of words with similar meanings.
Use a paper and pen to write a short list of five to ten words. Instruct your child to write a word with a similar definition beside the keyword.
Best for: Grades 1 to 4, multiple players of 3 or more
Use a beach ball or a soft cube toy to tape words to the sides of the object. These words can be a synonym, adjective, or a noun. On one side of the cube or ball, paste "use this word in a sentence".
Toss the ball to your child and whichever side comes up, he/she should answer the question. If your child answers correctly, they can throw the ball or cube to someone else in the group. Should your child answer incorrectly, they're removed from the game and asked to observe. The last person standing wins!
Best for: Grades 4 to 12
You can use Scrabble to accompany this version of the game. Use letter tiles to come up with several words and write their scores on a score sheet. Make this a true vocabulary game by asking your child to use each word in a sentence.
Best for: Grades 1 to 6
This vocabulary-building exercise works well to help children understand words as they're used in sentences.
Before you read a book to your child, write three new words for them. Ask them to write down their interpretation of the word's meaning.
When you're done reading, ask your child if he/she has a better understanding of that word now that they've heard it used in a sentence.
My Word Meaning builds comprehension and makes vocabulary studies more clear.
7. Go Fish
Best for: Grades 1 to 12
Go Fish remains a popular card game played by generations. But there's a way to turn this game into one that challenges kids with new words.
Write five to 15 words that your child is not familiar with. Give each member of your family an even number of cards. As each person draws a card, one player asks a question such as "do you have a word that means "happy"? If not, they're told, "Go Fish".
The first person to come up with the most correct words wins.
Best for: Grades 3 to 12
Picabulary offers an effective way to build vocabulary. Invite your kids and their friends to join the fun.
Divide your group into 2 or 3 small teams. Choose one person in each team to make drawings on a tablet, whiteboard, or a large piece of paper.
Start the game with one word. The artist attempts to draw the word without using letters or numbers. The first team to shout the correct word wins the game.
Best for: Grades 1 to 12
Everyone loves playing checkers! Incorporating vocabulary adds a creative spin to this classic game.
Print a checkerboard and use playing pieces such as coins, bingo tokens or small toy statues. Each person should fill out a vocabulary word on their checkerboards. If a member of your family doesn't use the word correctly in a sentence, they cannot make their move.
Best for: Kindergarten to grade 8
Here's a rewarding game that connects meaning between words and pictures. Your kids can draw visual representations of a few new words using paper and colored pencils. When two or more kids partner together, they attempt to define those words and use them in a sentence.
Family word board games
Make family game night more exciting when you try a variety of educational board games. Your kids will be too busy having fun to notice they're getting a valuable vocabulary lesson.
Below, you'll find the top five picks for family word board games:
Best for: 8 years and up
Scrabble works best when you have two to four players. The game requires the use of letter tiles and a grid board comprising 15x15 squares. Each player uses tiles to create words. To win the game, someone must have all of their tiles on the board.
Best for: 12 and up
Boggle has 16 lettered dice that you shake and allow to settle into each compartment. Using a three-minute timer, each player records the number of words they find on paper. The catch is they can't use the same cube twice.
Hasbro makes another version of this game for preschoolers called Boggle Junior. Kids develop spelling, sorting, and concentration skills.
Best for: 8 and up
You don't need artistic abilities to enjoy this hilarious game. Select one person to make a drawing and everyone else has to figure out if the drawing is a person or a curious object.
Pictionary adds fun to developing drawing skills and vocabulary.
Best for: 13 and up
Players must think fast as they work against a sand timer. Each person writes answers from various categories that begin with a specific letter determined by rolling the dice. Kids are great at coming up with hilarious answers. The more answers each player has, the more points they receive.
Best for: Ages 7 and up
This sweet little game comes with a banana-shaped pouch with letter tiles. Players work quickly to form many words to build a word grid. The first person who uses all of their tiles achieves "Top Banana" status.
You can find these board games at big box stores or smaller retailers that cater to children's books and toys.
Game-based learning for literacy and vocabulary
Kids love playing fun games. When you devote time to game-based learning or play-based learning, your child benefits from achieving critical thinking skills, motivation, and to reach for higher goals. You'll notice their confidence increases as they gain a handle on vocabulary and literacy.
Want more ways to encourage your child to love learning? Prodigy English, the brand-new language and reading adventure from Prodigy Education, opens for early access in January 2022!
Kids can explore an open world as they create items, earn coins and meet new characters. Every time they correctly answer a reading or language question, they’ll gain more energy to use as they create a world of their very own.
Early access spots are limited, so join the waitlist today for a chance to be included!