If you can sneak a little learning into your kids’ afternoon while avoiding the dreaded flashcard drill, it’s a total parenting win. We’ve rounded up 10 awesome, entertaining word games that boost vocabulary, encourage sight word recognition and exercise literacy skills. You’ll find word games for on-the-go adventures, rainy days and even outdoor play. Scroll down to check out our favorite word games for kids, and find one you and your future spelling bee champion can play today!
Printable bingo cards from Growing Book by Book give us a chance to use one of our favorite words: free! Plus, these bingo cards are picture based, making them great for kids who aren't quite reading yet, or who might be a little reluctant. Playing rounds of bingo will boost kids' rhyming muscles and help them exercise the pre-literacy skills that are super-important for early reading. Download the rhyming bingo cards, plus find loads of other word games and tips for young readers, at Growing Book by Book.
We love The Ankle Biter's Sight Word Bowling game because it makes sight word practice ten times more fun than flashcards. Plus, it's active and great for kids who are always on the move. It's easy to make your own set with a plastic bowling set or even, as blogger Britney smartly suggests, with paper towel rolls. Get your bowling shoes on and slide down to The Ankle Biters to find out how you can make your own set and get tips on sight word games.
Cover a baking sheet with shaving cream for lots of tactile literacy-boosting fun. Your little reader can practice writing her name, sight words, or the ABCs and XYZs. It's super easy and, if you'd like, you can even add a drop of food coloring in his fave shade to the shaving cream for an extra colorful boost. Don't have any shaving cream? You can also use play sand for sensory word game fun, or take it to the next level by putting shaving cream in squeeze bottles that your kiddos can use to write out their favorite words on contact paper. Check out Fantastic Fun and Learning's shaving cream tips.
Take your family game night to the next level by giving Jenga a dose of sight word power. Simply write sight words or vocabulary words on each block in a Jenga set. Then, take turns removing the blocks one by one, reading the word written on the block you grab out loud, and stacking them back on the top of the tower. The game is over when the tower collapses! To get more tips and tricks for Sight Word Jenga, check out the expert teacher advice at The First Grade Diaries.
Gather up the leftover plastic Easter eggs and give them new life as a word game. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed bloggers have loads of egg-centric ideas for you: You can write the same sight word on the two halves of each egg, take all of your sight word eggs apart, and challenge your little bunny to make matches. Or, you can use this free printable packed with pictures and beginning consonant-vowel-consonant words. Cut up the letters and pictures, and pack them inside of an egg. Your kiddo can then crack open each egg and rearrange the letters in the right order. It's word game F-U-N!
You'll be the parent of the year when you make your kid a custom word search. Discovery Education's Puzzlemaker is an easy-to-use free word search building site. You can fill your word search with words connected to your upcoming vacation—beach, starfish, and swimsuit—or with your kiddo's spelling words. Hop on over to Discovery Education and make your own!
X Marks the Spot
What kid doesn't love a treasure hunt? With uKloo, you can send your early readers out to find a treasure of their own easier than you can say yo, ho, ho. The game comes equipped with a stack of cards, each one written with a clue like, "Look in the sock drawer!" Simply pick a few clues, set them up around your house, and send your mini out to read their way to treasure hunt victory. The early reader edition is equipped with a picture-covered poster to help kids decipher any tricky words, and a few blank cards so you can write custom clues. Word game fun ahoy!
Available at amazon.com, $17.95.
Banana Fana Fo Fana
My First Bananagrams is the perfect beginning word game for future spelling bee champions. The lowercase tiles include double letters like sh, making it a snap for beginning readers to flex their word knowledge. The handy green bag is easy to take on the go, and when you're done playing a full game, you can use the tiles to practicing spelling words and sight words.
Available at bananagrams.com, $14.99.
Mad Mad Libs World
Your (ADJECTIVE) childhood word game, (NOUN), is still EXCLAMATION! Introduce your kids to the crazy world of Mad Libs and get ready for endless giggles. Mad Libs Junior books are great for younger readers and writers, with simple stories, large print, and a list of suggested words kiddos can use to fill in the blanks. Older kids will get a kick out of the themed books, whether they love dogs, Frozen, or even Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There's a Mad Libs for practically everything! Bonus: if you're not sure your kids will catch the Mad Libs bug, you can download one of the free printables to give your kids a little taste before shelling out the cash for a full book.
Available at amazon.com, $3.99 & up.
Tell Me a Story
What happens when a bumblebee meets the moon? We're not sure, but we know it'll make for an interesting tale! Rory's Story Cubes is a set of nine six-sided cubes with a different image on each side. Roll the cubes, and take turns with your kiddo making up imaginative stories based on the images you get. These cubes boost creativity, build vocabulary, and encourage kids to take charge. Because it's so open-ended, Story Cubes is a word game adults love, too! The magnet box holding the cubes snaps shut, keeping the magical die safely stored for your next storytelling adventure.
Available at storycubes.com, $11.99.