What are some good word games to play with kids, that even grown-ups will enjoy playing? If this is the pressing question on your mind, then you have come to the right place. My family loves to play screen-free waiting games. memory games, and brain puzzlers, and I have observed over the years how helpful these types of brain teasers and games have been, both for increasing thinking power and as quick distractors for whiny kids.
What are the benefits of word games?
Word games are not just fun boredom busters! They have lots of benefits for the brain.
Word games will:
- Improve reading and language skills
- Boost intelligence
- Increase quick thinking and concentration skills
- Cultivate relationships when played with others
- Teach spelling
- Aid foreign language learners
- Help develop confidence
I have sorted the games into the following three categories below:
- Thinking word games that require either nothing or just a pen and paper.
- Board word games. (Actually none of them use a board, ha ha ha)
- Sight word games.
So what are you waiting for, start playing! (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)
Word Games for Kids
What I love about all the word games in this section is that they are travel friendly. Play them on the go! Play them when you are stuck in traffic! Play them while you wait in line at the DMV! Whenever and wherever you want.
Words Within A Word. This word game is probably my favorite on the list. Write out a long word on a piece of paper or a white board if you have one. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and challenge kids to come up with as many smaller words as they can using only the letters in the designated word.
For example, if the word is “onomatopoeia”: poem, name, top, pot, ate, etc.
Unscramble. You will need a pen and paper for this word puzzle. Write a list of 10 words, but instead of spelling them correctly, mix up the letters and challenge your child to unscramble them. To make it a little more fun, select all words from a single category. For example: kcae, kieooc, epi, ssertde, eci mreac become cake, cookie, pie, dessert, ice cream.
TIP: for younger kids choose only 3-5 letter words. I also have a frozen version of this game to play in the bathtub!
The Minister’s Cat. You can play this game with 2 or more players. The first person starts off by describing the minister’s cat with an adjective that begins with the letter “A.” For example, “The minister’s cat is an angry cat.” The next player uses an adjective that begins with “B” and so on through the alphabet. “The minister’s cat is a bulbous cat.” “The minister’s cat is a cantankerous cat.”
VARIATION: Players must remember all the adjectives in order as they are added to the game. Using the above example, the second player would say, “The minister’s cat is an angry, bulbous cat.” The third, “The minister’s cat is an angry, bulbous, cantankerous cat.”
Hink Pink. Hink Pinks are rhyming word puzzles. One person thinks of a two word rhyme and gives a two word description. The other player then must guess the “Hink Pink.” For example, if one person says, “angry boy”, the other player responds, “mad lad.” Or, “wet canine” becomes “soggy doggy.”
Human Thesaurus. Choose a simple word like “beautiful.” Think of as many synonyms as you can. If playing with others, you can set a timer and trade off with different words, or write words down and see who can come up with the most.
Storytelling Word by Word. Start a story with a single word. The next player says that word and builds the story with another word. The next player says the first two word and adds a third, and so on. Alternatively you can build sentence by sentence. TIP: keep sentences short.
Word Board Games
You can find some really wonderful word “board” games to play with kids, either for family game night or in the classroom. I put “board” in quotation marks because none of these games use an actual board!
Boggle and Boggle, Jr. This is the classic word hunt game and should be a staple in everyone’s game closet! I loved playing this as a kid and still enjoy it as a parent. There is now a simpler version for preschoolers!
Given its compact size and the lack of need for a large playing space, Word-A-Round is a great travel game. This word game stretches your visual perception skills. Players race to decode the words hidden in plain sight. If you love this one, then Word-A-Round 2 is next on your list!
Bananagrams. I prefer Bananagrams to its classic cousin, Scrabble. The concept is similar but there are no “triple word scores” and such that can add an extra layer of anxiety to game play. It’s just about the fun of creating words! There are several versions, including a double tile set and a wild tile set.
Quiddler. There is also a Quiddler, Jr. edition. I featured Quiddler as a game of the month. The goal is to use the cards in your hand to create words of increasing length. Great for vocabulary and spelling!
Sight Word Games
If you are working specifically on sight words with your kids and students, try using these diy sight words games and sight word board games to make learning more fun.
The Measured Mom has a ton of free printable sight word games. Start with this one right here!
Zingo, Sight Words Edition. The original Zingo is an excellent classic game for pre-readers and early readers and this sight word edition is a must-have addition to the family of games. The Zingo games definitely take the pain out of memorizing sight words and give kids the confidence they need to improve their reading skills.
Sight Words Bingo. You can’t go wrong with Bingo, and it needs no explanation! If you don’t want to purchase a game, you can find tons of free printable versions scattered across the internet.
More word learning fun: