Vocabulary games give kids the playful practice of learning new vocabulary words and their spelling. Playing vocabulary games at home or in the classroom makes learning fun and engaging and helps the information stick in a child’s long-term memory.
Research shows that using games increases classroom participation, improves collaboration, and fosters social and emotional learning.
These vocabulary games for home and the classroom for kids ages 4 to 12 will help your learners engage with and practice vocabulary words.
Vocabulary Games at Home
Note: Use the recommended ages as a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. You know your kids and students best!
“I spy with my little eye . . . ” In this vocabulary I Spy game, you’ll want to give clues to find something that starts with a particular letter or letter sound. . . “something that starts with an r.” (You may want to read I Spy books, too!)
Remember this tricky add-on game? The first player starts with something she is bringing camping, BUT she makes the rule about what all the things must have in common (and doesn’t tell anyone) –maybe all beginning with the letter “a” or all things you see in the bathroom, just to name a few examples.
For example, “I’m going camping, and I’m going to bring an alligator . . . “ The other players try to figure out the rule by adding their own thing “I’m going camping, and I’m going to bring an apple.”
Build vocabulary with this silly game featuring animal sound buzzers. Read the clues then buzz if you know the answer! Full review here.
Match the word on one card with the picture on the other in five entertaining game options: Face Off, Flip-Flap, Sardines, Click-Clack, and Cooperative.
Brainstorm vocabulary and practice spelling while you build a cool crossword grid and try to beat your friends or family. Addictive fun!
Practice vocabulary in this classic word game. Shake the letters up, then try to make as many words as you can. It’s big fun!
Think of Quiddler like Scrabble but with cards. Players create words from the cards in their hand — each letter is worth points, so players must be strategic. It’s an engaging way to develop vocabulary in a fun family time game. (see also: Quiddler Junior for ages 6+)
Look at the picture card, then think fast of a word that begins with the last letter of the word previously called.
You know this classic game already, but have you considered how great it is for building vocabulary?!
Consonant cards plus vowel dice equal words — and you want your words to be as high scoring as possible.
Flip a card and see if you can spot a word written around the circle — it’s trickier than it looks but exciting and competitive. It’s a fantastic game for stretching your perception skills as well as a great vocabulary-building game.
Blurt builds vocabulary, makes you think fast, and provides comic relief. One player reads the clue to the others. The other players try to blurt out the correct answer first. Whoever wins the blurt gets to move ahead on the game board. Full review here.
Practice spelling, build vocabulary, and cooperate with teammates in this fast-paced, competitive game. Full review here.
Hilarious and fun, compete against other players to answer the clues with the best word. It’s a great vocabulary game since it encourages thinking about words. Full review here.
–> Storytelling also helps build a child’s vocabulary. Find fun storytelling games for your kids.
Classroom Vocabulary Games
Students throw the ball around the circle of students. The teacher shouts freeze and the student holding the ball takes a vocabulary flash card and reads it aloud. If your students are ready for a more advanced option, ask the student also to use the word in a sentence.
Use your vocabulary words instead of the store-bought Pictionary game’s words. Have one student draw the vocabulary word on a piece of paper or the board. Their partner or team must guess the correct word to win the round.
Play this game to build vocabulary skills with a game of memory. Buy pre-made memory word games like a sight word memory game or make your own using index cards and vocabulary or spelling word list words. This is best played with partners.
Use vocabulary words for the classic game of charades. One person acts out the word, and whoever guesses the word wins the round and can go next. This is a good activity for small groups.
Divide the classroom into teams. Have students race to the front of the room. They must pick a vocabulary word and use the word correctly in a sentence that they write on the board. When everyone on the team has gone, the team who has finished first wins.
I’ve done this at home and in the classroom. Write the words on sticky notes or cards and have students search for the word matches you’ve put around the home or classroom using their word lists.
Ask students to make bingo boards. First, show them how to draw a 5×5 or 4×4 grid with a free space in the middle. Then, ask them to fill in the words in any space using your word lists. Bingo keeps students engaged for a decent amount of time to help cement the learning of new words.
Other Vocabulary Games
Use the list of home games and bring them into the classroom. Scrabble, Quiddler, Oddly Obvious, and the other games listed for home will also work in the classroom.