Get kids loving and learning words with these 6 fun word play activities — guaranteed to entertain and delight! Once kids see the fun in words, there’s no telling how much that will positively affect them as readers and writers…
1. Tongue Twisters
Unique New York.
Irish wrist watch.
Red leather, yellow leather
She sells sea shells by the seashore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
Read Just Joking for more tongue twisters.
If you’ve ever read Amelia Bedelia, you’ll know how fun it is to laugh at puns! (Poor Amelia always gets words mixed up and it makes for hilarious stories.)
Puns are plays on words, homophones. In other terms, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things.
What’s interesting to me is that my oldest daughter who is 12 does not get puns (or jokes) at all because of the way her brain processes. She’s a very literal, black and white thinker. We have to make sure that we explain exactly why the joke or pun is funny each time. I’m hoping that with continuous exposure, it will “click”.
Funny puns for some quick wordplay:
Why are teddy bears never hungry? They are always stuffed!
There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.
Why are playing cards like wolves? They come in packs.
Why are fish so smart? Because they live in schools.
Don’t miss watching Whose on First? by Abbott and Costello. So funny!
3. Pig Latin
I don’t think Pig Latin is as popular as it used to be when I was a child. Did you ever try to speak it? I never could get the hang of this word play language but here’s the gist:
To Translate a Word into Pig Latin, follow these steps:
- Take off the beginning consonant of the word. (example: take off the “c” of cat so you have “at”.
- Put the “c” sound on the end of the word. (example: “at-c”)
- Add “ay” at the end of the word. (example: “at-c-ay”
Or you can always enter your words or phrases in this handy dandy Pig Latin translator.
You’ve probably seen the Jumble anagrams in the newspaper by the crossword puzzles, right? Anagrams are word puzzles where the letters must be rearranged to make a new word or words. For example: WEIRD can be WIRED, IEP to become PIE, or LPAPE to be APPLE.
Read Ann and Nan Are Anagrams: A Mixed-Up Word Dilemma by Mark Schulman
Try the Banagrams Book.
Act out words when you play charades – the ultimate active word play. Use your spelling words, new vocabulary words, Haikubes, or a store-bought Charades game like Reverse Charades Junior or Rollick!.
6. Read Picture Books About Word Play
Read picture books that will help your kids love words! Picture books that inspire learning new words, playing with words, and becoming a connoisseur of words. Picture book reviews and printable list here.
Off you go . . .
Happy word play!
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!