Vocabulary Games for Kids

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learning vocabulary is important in many parts of life, and enriches us all, but it can be a bit dull. Spice it up with these vocabulary games for kids.

Learning Vocabulary with Games

Learning vocabulary is important. It helps you understand everything from novels and news articles to textbooks and scientific papers. Without good vocabulary, the meanings of many of the things we read can be lost, and we're unable to describe things with nuance.

However learning vocabulary isn't always especially fun. Why not make it a little better for kids by playing some of these vocabulary games?

Vocabulary Game Show

You can ask kids lots of kinds of vocabulary questions. But in the end, a worksheet is just a worksheet. A better way to frame these questions is in the form of a game, like a vocabulary game show. You could create a game where teams win points by answering questions in one of several categories, kind of like Jeopardy, except without having to phrase answers of the question. Each category can even have easy questions worth 100 points, and harder questions worth 200, 300, 400, and 500 points. Kids love to have choices in anything, and this will make the game more engaging.

Categories can be types of questions. Here are a few types of questions you could use:

Definitions What does this word mean?
In a sentence Use the following word in a sentence . . .
Synonyms Which word means the same as . . .?
Antonyms Which word means the opposite of . . .?
Prefixes and suffixes Name 10 words with the suffix . . .
What is the missing word The quick ____fox jumped . . .
Odd words out Which of the following four words is the odd one out?
Pictures What word does this picture represent?

Short Story Competition

Another fun and much shorter game is the challenge to create a short story (in a single sentence or couple of sentences) that includes set of challenging or unusual vocabulary. For example, you could give your students five words, such as: wizard, experience, expecting, arrangements, and balcony. Then they have a few minutes to create a story no more than three sentences long which includes all five words. This will bring out your students' creative side and help them practice using vocabulary at the same time. Some of the stories will end up being entertaining and amusing. Their fellow students can then vote on their favorites to declare a winner.

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