Fun games that play with words!

Another great guest post today from Maggie McGuire of the Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog! Today, Maggie shares some of her family's favorite word games!

My family loves to play games of all kinds but a few of our very favorites are word based games. Here are my top game picks that are fun and challenging and also boost language and literacy skills without anyone ever saying it!

  1. At the top of the list is Balderdash.  My family LOVES this game – we play this frequently and it’s also a GREAT party game. In short, it’s the ultimate bluffing game. Each player takes a turn as the “dasher”. The dasher draws a card and reads an obscure word to the players – the words are not words used in everyday language (btw – you can use the dictionary to play this game too!). Each player writes as convincing a definition as possible – as they will attempt to win the round. All the definitions are collected and are then read aloud by the dasher.  This is the best part of the game. Ridiculous and super clever ideas spill forth from everyone. The dasher has to read each definition as though it were the real definition – so as not to give away the real answer. The dasher then asks each player which definition is the correct one, noting that player's choice on the slip of paper. At the end of the round, the players who chose the correct definition move ahead on the board. The players who received votes for their phony definitions move one space for every vote. And, if no player guesses the correct definition, the dasher moves forward three spaces on the board. For subsequent rounds, each player takes a turn as the dasher. This game is so much fun, and really hilarious. The game comes with 1,500 or so cards that have 5 categories: Weird Words, Peculiar People, Interesting Initials, Laughable Laws and Movies. The fun is in making up answers that are as silly or as serious as you want – but all with the aim of being as convincing as possible.  Most of the time we don’t even play using points or the board, we’ll pull out the cards and do a few rounds after dinner just for fun and a lot of laughs! We’ll go around the table, each of us will get a turn as the “dasher” and will get to pick the category we want for that round. I’ve saved some of the most outlandish and most convincing definitions we’ve come up with – because they’re just too good to throw away. When my kids were heading off to school this morning – my 8 year old said, “…and I’m ready for another round of Balderdash tonight! Yes? You in?” A big “Yes!” from me absolutely followed. Can’t wait.
  2. Snatch-It! I was first introduced to this game by adult friends and have since introduced it to my kids. It’s a simple word game that is quick to learn and really fun to play! The game comes with 100 plastic tiles and players lay all of the tiles face-down in the middle of the table. Then players take turns flipping the tiles over one at a time. When a player sees a word three letters or longer, they shout it out and snatch it from the center, setting it in front of them. Players can then steal each other's words by adding a letter to them and making a new word. It’s really interactive and fast paced which kids love. You don’t have to “wait your turn” – what kids doesn’t love that! You can play with as few as 2 and up to 10-12 – or more! It’s great for parties. You can also level the play and make it age appropriate for littler ones (limit words to 3-4 letters) and level it up for older players (example: no fewer than 5 letter words).  A full game may only last 10 minutes or so – but it’s addictive, so be warned, you’ll want to play it over and over again!
  3. Smarthmouth – I have given this game as a gift to lots of kids. It’s a fun, fast paced game of words where players race to make the best word in 60 seconds! The premise of the game is to quickly make a word from the two dispensed tiles that begins with one of the letters and ends with the other, e.g. "S" and "D" are dispensed you might say "stand".  The word has to be at least 5 letters. The player who calls out the first word and the player with the highest ranking word both collect a letter tile for the round. Once all tiles are gone, the player with the most tiles wins!

For the rest of Maggie's recommendations, check out the full post on Raise a Reader!