Not all children learn best from a workbook or video. Some children are hands on learners. They benefit from “doing” rather than being shown something. Word games are an easy way to sneak in learning throughout the school week.
My 9-year-old son is a hands on kind of kid. He would rather do science experiments, paint, play games, or run through the woods, than sit down to read, write, or do anything that has to do with words.
Hands on learners can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to learning how to read or teaching language arts. These learners don’t usually benefit from spelling or vocabulary worksheets.
And let’s face it… spelling and vocabulary lists are BORING! I love words and worksheets but hated spelling lists as a child. I would have much rather played a game to reinforce concepts.
Typically they learn quickly (and happily) from playing word games. Today there are many games that help kids learn basic and advanced reading and vocabulary skills.
Instead of making a child sit and write spelling and vocabulary words over and over or having them read dry lists of words, how about a word games?
I love the preschool age. It was probably my favorite age when homeschooling my kids. Still cute and sweet and eager to learn.
One of the first games we play with our preschoolers is sight word bingo. This is a great way to learn sight words without the kids even knowing they are learning.
Years ago at a homeschool convention I stumbled across a game company called ThinkFun. They make amazing learning games for kids.
When my children were still learning basic words we would play ZINGO almost every day. I loved this game because it includes a picture and a word. Even if the child didn’t recognize the word immediately the picture gave them a clue.
Once they were more confident with basic words we played the Zingo word builder game. These games are fun and fast paced and kept even my wiggliest kids engaged.
Remember the game Banangrams? This is a great game to help kids spell words. Players race to create words and the winner is based on speed not points.
This fast paced game forces kids to think and spell quickly reinforcing words they’ve been learning during school.
Most of my kids loved speed games. It was especially great for by antsy boys who couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes at a time.
Quiddler is a card game that can be played with up to 10 people so it’s great for bigger families. You make works with the cards you are dealt and even short words like “at, zoo, or the” can lead to a win. This game is also fast paced (similar to Bananagrams).
Two slower paced games that help with spelling are the classic Scrabble and Upwords. My kids thought Upwords was more fun and I liked it because it gave the kids more options to create words since you can build on top of other words.
Upwords is also great for learning word groups, since you can build with just a letter. So “mate” can become “late” or “gate.”
Two of our favorite word games that have worked wonders for my son are Quiddler and Bananagrams. Both are games that involve spelling and word knowledge. Here are some of the benefits of word games that I have found.
Spelling Benefits of Word Games
My son first started playing these word games when he was 6 or 7. At that age, he didn’t know how to spell a lot of words. He struggled at first to put the correct letters together, but I let him sound the words out and try his best.
I offered help and hints when he needed it. It gave us a great opportunity to talk about phonics and let him apply it to what he was working on.
After a short time of getting spelling help from mom, dad, or big sister, and watching us spell words, he started to become an excellent speller. He didn’t need as much help from us. His confidence grew, as did his spelling abilities.
These days, he rarely asks for help, and he often wins!
While there are numerous spelling games for kids, vocabulary games are not as plentiful. However, your child’s vocabulary builds every time they are introduced to new words.
I’ve always believed that reading is the best way to build a vocabulary, however not all children love to read or like to sit still.
A game like Classwords is a great way to help children expand their vocabulary.
This is also a timed game and kids have to give clues to help their teammate figure out the answer. Classwords is available in different grade levels.
Another free option is to play a game like “Head’s Up” which is available for phones and tablets on the app store. We play this game all the time and my kids love it!
Our family hasn’t used the game Super Sleuth, but it looks like another fun way to help younger children improve their vocabulary.
Your child must be able to read aloud to play Super Sleuth.
Middle & High School Vocabulary Games
If your children are older I highly recommend Rummy Roots as a game to help with Latin and Greek word roots.
Children as young as eight can play Rummy Roots and get familiar with more advanced words, but we used it for middle and high school.
Vocabulary Benefits of Word Games
Kids have a large vocabulary. The average 6 year old knows about 10,000 words, but the learning and accumulating of words doesn’t stop there.
As my son watches the words other people in the game create, he notices unfamiliar words (especially when we draw a Z or a Q!). He is able to add these new words to his vocabulary and use them when he gets the opportunity.
We always keep a dictionary app available on our phones or tablets. (Remember the days of flipping and searching through those thick paper dictionaries?) My son is allowed to search the dictionary to see if a group of letters he put together is a word or not.
It’s important for him to realize that even though something might sound like a word, that doesn’t mean it is. And, if it is a word, he gets to see the definition. Another new word added to his vocabulary!
What About You?
Do you play any word games in your house? What are your favorites? Do you and your kids learn from them?