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  • Melanie Notaras

7 Fun Games You Can Play To Increase Your Child's Vocabulary and Imagination

How can we help our kids improve their vocabulary and imagination? It's not just about expanding their vocabulary (which we can do through books and conversation), but also by increasing the speed that they can recall words and use them appropriately. We do this by playing games, of course!

I'm going to show you some fun games I play with my kids to increase their vocabulary and imagination, and you can play them too.

1. Categories - a game of speed and vocabulary invention!

Grab a pen and piece of paper for each player, and divide each page into seven columns, and title them (left to right): Letter, Boy's Name, Girl's Name, Country, Food, Celebrity, Score. To play, choose a letter of the alphabet will be chosen and write it down in the first column, then as fast as each player can, they write down a word - starting with that letter - for each category. The first person to finish shouts 'stop' and everyone puts their pen down, even if they haven't finished. Each 'unique' word gets 10

points; each word that's correct but also written down one or more of the other players, gets 5 points (wrong words get zero, though we allow for spelling mistakes). You might like to change the categories (eg animals, sports, Harry Potter words etc) for fun, and you might want to handicap adults by having to come up with two words for each category. Quick and fun, we played six rounds after dinner last night before dragging ourselves away to clean up.

But how do you pick the letter for each round? We've found the fairest way is to grab a book, get one person to choose a page number, then select the first letter from the first noun on that page. No squabbling, guaranteed!

2. I Went To The Market - vocabulary and memory game

This game is totally oral. All players start with the sentence 'I went to the market and bought ...'. The first player finishes the sentence with a product that starts with A (eg apple), then the round moves to the second person who recites the first person's line plus their own, eg 'I went to the market and I bought an apple and a banana'. The third person builds on the first two: 'I went to the market and bought an apple, a banana and carrots' and so on until you get down to Z! This is a thrilling game for the car as each person struggles to successfully remember the list, and has plenty of variations (eg toys, clothes, vegetables only etc)! Hmm, what could you buy at the market?

3. The Alphabet Game

An easier version of the market game, without the memory part. Starting with the letter A and working your way down the alphabet, a category is chosen and each person takes turns thinking of a word to fit the next letter. When playing with easier categories, all players can contribute a word to that letter (instead of just the current player). It could be girl's names, boy's names, sports, food (make it harder with specific foods like desserts), Pokemon names, Harry Potter-specific words, celebrities, animals (land/sea/air/dinosaurs etc), song titles starting with that letter - basically whatever category interests your child and has potentially enough words to finish most letters on the list.

4. Scrabble (Hasbro/Mattel) is a highly

addictive word game (and my favourite board game) where 2 - 4 players add letter tiles to create words on a board divided into 15 x 15 spaces. Each letter has a specific score value, and once you put your letter down you can't move it. The advanced vocabulary of adult players provides a gentle exposure of new words to children, and it's a great way to get kids experimenting with letter order. You play for points, plus the thrill of creating exciting words. Get all your 7 tiles on at once, and it's a bonus 50 points, yippee!

5. Upwords (Hasbro) is a variation of Scrabble, except that you are allowed to pile new letters on top of old ones to create new words, the score increasing as the pile increases, making later words more valuable than early ones - increasing the excitement!

6. Boggle (Parker Bros) is a speedy word game that I love, using 16 cubes (each side bearing a letter) shaken into a 4 x 4 plastic grid so that only the top letter of the cube is visible. Players have 3 minutes to create 3 letter+ words from adjacent cubes (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) being careful not to use the same cube more than once. Of course you can't stop after one round, this is a game you have to play again and again! What words can you create from this Boggle image? I can see Newt, Cress, Song, Went ... hmm, can you see any more?

7. Magic & Fairy Tale Dice (by Hannah Waldron, released by Laurence King Publishing). What a great idea, packaged so cutely, easy to store and hold, no point scoring and playable by all ages! Maybe the best thing about this little story-prompting game is that it can be played by either the whole family, or just one player! The game is comprised of 9 dice, with an image on each side. The 9th dice contains a special red spiral which denotes a character can activate 'super powers'. To play, just roll the 8 'regular' dice to find the characters and circumstances of your story, roll the 'super powers' dice - then tell (or write) your story! And you don't need to stop at just fairy tales, there are also Pirate Adventure, Ghost Story and Space Adventure game variations.

Kids often learn best through play, experiment and experience. Try family time with some of these games - they're not only fun, but a great way to reinforce that learning is fun too!

My School Adventure customises The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] for schools and will be releasing a second novel The Science Fair That Went Berserk At [Your School Name Here] later in 2018. For more information on how we can assist your school please visit

Interested in more? You can connect with My School Adventure on Facebook and Pinterest, or with author Melanie Notaras on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Image attributions:

Magic & Fairy Tale Dice: by M.A. Notaras (C) M.A. Notaras 2018

Categories scoresheets: by M.A. Notaras (C) M.A. Notaras 2018

Scrabble: by thebarrowboy (Flickr: Scrabble) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Boggle: by Stilfehler - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Upwords: Wikipedia

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