After my recent post on thinking games, I felt that this post on word games would be appropriate since our family enjoys several word games that are both fun and educational. One challenge about playing word games with the whole family is that it is necessary for children to be able to read, unless, of course, they are playing an introductory child’s word game (which are usually not that fun for the older members of the family). We typically relax the rules of the more advanced word games that we play in order to level the playing field. We often assist the children in finding and/or spelling words.
The great thing about playing word games is that children get spelling practice and an introduction to new vocabulary words within a fun, game-playing context. As an older player uses a word unfamiliar to some of the others playing, the meaning can be discussed, the spelling clearly seen, and new knowledge is gained by all. It seems that we are more likely to remember things that we have learned within the context of having fun.
A final educational benefit that word games provide for children is practice using the dictionary. Not many people find it particularly fun to look up words in the dictionary as part of an assignment. But when kids are trying to score points in a game, looking up words becomes much more motivating. In addition, the children are usually seeking these words secretively (so they don’t give parents an advantage in the game). In other words, they are motivated to act and learn independently (which is sometimes a struggle during the school day for some members of our family). So find a word game and gather your family together for a fun and educational experience.
If you don’t already have a favorite word game, here are a few suggestions from our list of family favorites.
This game consists of letter tiles, packaged in a zippered banana pouch. There is no board, so this game is very portable. Each player draws tiles and makes words using only their own tiles. They join other words like a crossword puzzle. My favorite part is that everyone plays at once. It is fast-paced and no one has to wait for someone to take a turn. Call me impatient, but it does get boring waiting too long for the other players to take their turns in certain games.
This is another compact game where all the players play at the same time. The game consist of letter cubes and a small case to hold the cubes and shake them. For each round the case is shaken and the 25 cubes allowed to rest in the bottom of the case. Players then look for words by connecting the letters. After the set time has passed, players take turns calling out the words that they have found. You only get points for those words that no one else has found, so it is good to write down unusual words. There are points awarded for each unique word with longer words scoring more points.
This great card game is from the makers of The Set Game. Each card has a letter or a blend of letters on it. For the first hand, each player is dealt 3 cards. Each subsequent hand the number of cards is increased by one, until the last hand where each player is dealt ten cards. Each player tries to use all their cards to spell one or more words. Each turn they must draw one card and discard one card. After the first player is able to use all their cards, all the other players get one more turn and must make whatever words they can from the letters in their hand. The points from unused cards are deducted from their scores. This game lasts longer than the other ones, but it provides more opportunity to help the children find words.
As we homeschool our children, let’s not forget about the natural opportunities that arise for educating our children within our everyday activities.
Written by Kristen, Relaxed Classical Homeschool Mom of 4. Kristen blogs at A Day in the Life.