Why Word Games Are Important For Kids
Playing with words can be a ton of fun. They are great games for kids to play at birthday parties, during sleepovers, around the campfire, as well as while traveling in the car.
But word games are more than just fun. Word games also help children develop language skills, build vocabulary, create verbal and visual connections, as well as increase their memories and attention spans–and it’s all through play!
These games are just the beginning. Be sure to check out the full games section, It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share activities on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!
Going on a Picnic / Going on a Trip
The more people playing, the more challenging this game becomes. One person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing a…” (say something they are going to bring). The next person then repeats the sentence and adds something they are bringing.
Person one: “I am going on a picnic and I am bringing jelly beans.”
Person two: “I am going on a picnic and I am bringing jelly beans and pizza.”
The first player that forgets one the items from the growing list is out.
VARIATIONS: People can only bring something that starts with the same letter as their first name. For example, Jean can only bring things like, jelly beans, jam, juice but not oysters.
You can also start the game with the sentence, “I am going on a trip and in my suitcase I am packing…” It’s the same game as “picnic.”
Start with “A.” The first player says a word that starts with “A,” the next player repeats it plus adds something that starts with the letter “B,” and on and on until the players are through the alphabet. The trick is for everyone to get through the alphabet without forgetting the growing list.
Take turns telling a story with others by switching between ‘unfortunately’ and ‘fortunately’. Start with unfortunately.
First person: “Unfortunately the car has broken down.”
Next person: “Fortunately, I like to walk.”
Next person: “Unfortunately it is starting to rain.”
Next Person: “Fortunately, I have an umbrella.”
Next Person: “Unfortunately…”
Keep going until you can’t think of anything to add!
What would happen if…an elephant ran the town instead of the mayor? What if aliens abducted your teacher? (What would school be like then?) What if you were famous or your parents were famous? What if your dog could talk?
There is no limit to the ‘what if’ questions you can ask. You can either answer the questions yourself and daydream away, or discuss it with a friend and build on each other’s ideas or even take turns ‘what if’ing. Answering ‘what if’ questions are also a good way to start writing a short story or poem.
Add a Word
A friend says a word, then you say a word. Go back and forth until you have a sentence or a story. You can also play this one on paper.
Person 1: I
Person 2: ran
Person 3: away
Person 1: from
Person 2: the
Person 3: big
Person 1: clown.
You never know where the other players are going to take the story you are creating!
Add a Sentence
Build a story with a friend by adding one sentence to the story at each turn. So a friend says a sentence. Then you add a sentence. They add another… on and on until you have a whole story! You never know where this story is going to end up!
Variations: You can play this one in a big group and add more than one sentence at a time. We do this shared storytelling at my Grandma’s cottage. It’s a hit! (My daughter wants to play it everyday because you just never know what’s going to happen in the crazy, crazy story! Unless Dad’s playing–he always says the same thing no matter what happens in the story. He’s so silly!)
Switch a Line
Read a sentence from one story and then have a friend read a sentence from a different story. Take turns. Sometimes it gets really silly!
Everyone (2 or more players) sits in a circle and claps to a rhythm or slaps their legs to a rhythm (like clap-clap or slap-slap). One player starts by saying “I am thinking of kinds of….” They say this in rhythm to the clapping or slapping. The next player in the circle joins in after one clap or slap by saying something that fits in the category or kinds of thing the first person mentioned. Go around the circle until players are all out of ideas or someone misses a beat.
Person 1: (clap) “I am thinking of kinds of clothes” (clap) “hat” (clap)
Person 2: “socks” (clap)
Person 3: “pants” (clap)
Persons 4: “t-shirt” (clap)
Person 1: “coat” (clap)
You’ve got to be quick! I have a hard time keeping the rhythm. Then again, I have trouble with the song B-I-N-G-O once you have to start substituting letters for claps. Ah!
Category ideas: clothes, candy, places, things that grow, TV shows, books, people, relatives, red food, animals, electronics, teachers in your school, sports, dog breeds, song titles, people names, school subjects.
Two people have a conversation, but they can only ask questions. To make it more difficult, players have to reply right away or they are out. (The conversation doesn’t always have to make sense.) You can also play with more people and switch people out as they mess up.
Here is an example:
Person one: How are you?
Person two: What do you mean?
Person one: What are you crazy?
Person two: No, are you?
Person one: Sometimes, but how are you?
Person two: I’m fine (and out because this isn’t a question!)
Guess the Number
One player picks a number in their head. The other player(s) try and guess the number. The guessers can ask questions like, “is it higher than _______?” All questions must be answerable with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
For example: Is the number over 60?
Is it an even number?
Is it 20?
Is it over 20?
Is it 44?
Guess the Animal
This is a great game to pull out any time you have to wait. We play it on road trips and while waiting in line (you might get other people waiting in line starting to guess too!).
Someone chooses an animal while everyone else tries to guess what the animal is. The trick is… they can only ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. In other words, the person with the animal can only answer “yes” or “no” to the questions asked as people try to guess what animal they chose.
Guesser: Can it fly?
Animal Person: Yes.
Guesser: Does it have feathers?
Animal Person: No.
Guesser: Is it an insect?
Animal Person: Yes.
Guesser: Did we see one today?
Animal Person: Yes.
Guesser: Is it a ladybug?
Animal Person: No.
Guesser: A dragonfly?
Animal Person: Yes!
Interview the people you are with by asking them questions about themselves. Maybe you’d like to know what was your Dad’s first job or your Mom’s first crush or what your sister’s least favourite animal is. The answers might surprise you!
To up the ‘play’ factor, pretend you are interviewing your person for a TV show. Ask them about their day–things like, “And what surprised you most about the zoo today?” And “How did it make you feel when the hippopotamus stuck its tongue out at you?”
You need at least 4-5 people sitting in a circle for this game. One player makes up a sentence—silly sentences are good—like, “On Sundays giraffes walk sideways in peanut butter” and whispers it in the ear of the next player. That player then repeats it to the next player, who then repeats what they heard into the ear of the next player, and on and on until it reaches the last player in the circle.
Important: The sentence can only be whispered to a player once. If someone forgets or doesn’t hear it all, they have to repeat the sentence to the next player as best they can.
The last player in the circle says the sentence out loud and the player who made up the sentence tells everyone what the sentence really was. Sometimes it ends up being completely different!
Looking for more? Try these places as well:
Might I also suggest this time-saver…
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