A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Are you game?

I love words, whether I'm reading them or writing them.  It shouldn't be a surprise that I also enjoy playing word games.  (I prefer them to most other kinds of games, in fact.)  Luckily, my family likes playing them, too!  I thought I'd share a few of our favorites here. 

Are you looking for gift ideas or fun activities for the holidays?  Maybe one (or more!) of the following games will do the trick:

Hangman...  You don't even need to buy anything for this game, though my mom did come across the Hangman game pad shown in the photo below.  All you need is a piece of paper, something to write with, and 2 or more players.  One person thinks of a word, then draws a blank for each letter in the word.  The rest of the players guess letters.  Correct letters are written on the corresponding blanks.  Incorrect letters earn a body part in a "hanging" stick figure drawing.  Play then continues until either the word or the body is complete.  My 6-year-old Ben recently "discovered" this game, and asks to play it almost daily!

Scrabble... This game is a classic!  Two to four people, ages 8 and up, can play.  Each player draws 7 letter tiles, then tries to form words crossword-style -- building on other players' words.  When a player puts a word on the board, he or she then draws more tiles. Different letters are worth different points (more for harder-to-use letters), and different spots on the board are worth different points as well.  When the tiles have all been distributed and no one can form another word, play ends.  Whoever has the most points wins!
There is also a version for younger kids, ages 5 and up -- Scrabble Junior.  This game comes with words already printed on the board.  Players then match their letter tiles to the letters shown.  (Or, once kids have mastered that, you can flip the board over and use the standard Scrabble board on that side.)

Quiddler...  Up to 8 people (ages 8 to adult) can play this fun card game.  Players are dealt cards with single letters or letter combinations on them, and must try to create words using at least two cards per word.  Each card has a point value that is added up at the end of a round.  (Be careful -- unused cards in your hand will count against you!) Bonus points are given each round for the player with the most number of words and the player with the longest word.  At the end of eight rounds, the player with the most points wins.

My sister and my kids made up their own amusing version of this game:  At the end of each round, players must come up with a sentence using all of the words they formed that round.  (Sometimes, they even come up with an on-going story using all of the words created for each round.)

Taboo...  This game is recommended for ages 16 and up, but we have often played it with much younger kids.  Four people or more can play -- we've played some rousing games of Taboo with teams of 7 or 8 before!  Players take turns trying to get the rest of their team to guess a secret word... but watch out!  There's a list of several taboo words that cannot be used when describing the secret word.  Creativity is a must!

Once Upon a Time...  This is a storytelling card game for two to six players, ages 8 and up.  One player is the Storyteller.  This person creates a story using the fairy tale elements shown on his/her cards. The Storyteller then attempts to guide the plot toward his/her own ending while other players use their cards to interrupt him/her, thereby becoming the new Storyteller. The winner is the first player to play out all of his/her cards and end with his/her Happy Ever After card.

Apples to Apples... This "game of crazy comparisons" for 4-10 players is recommended for ages 12 and up, but there is also a "Junior" version (shown below) that can be played by anyone who can read.   Players are dealt red cards which have a noun printed on them. The judge (a different player in each turn) draws a green adjective card, placing it face up so everyone can see it.  The other players then choose a noun card from their hands, one that they think best fits with the adjective. The judge then decides which noun he/she likes best.

In a Pickle... This game, for ages 10 and up, can be played by 2 to 6 players.  Each player is dealt 5 cards with nouns printed on them.  Four additional cards are placed face up, where everyone can see them.  Players then take turns placing cards from their hands either under one of the face up cards (because it is smaller and can "fit into" that noun) or on top of one of the face up cards (because it is larger than the other noun).  For example, a pickle fits into a jar which fits into a cart which fits into a grocery store.

You've Been Sentenced... A sentence-building game for 3 to 10 players, this one is for ages 8 and up.  Players are dealt 10 word cards, then try to score the most points per round by constructing the longest, grammatically correct, and sensible sentence. If another player objects to the sentence (either on grammatical grounds or with a claim that it just doesn't make sense), the player who made the sentence must try to defend it.  The rest of the players form a jury, deciding whether or not the sentence will count.  The first player to earn 200 points wins!

Scribblish...  This is a drawing (scribbling!) game, yes, but it is also a word game, and one of our family's very favorite things to play.  (Warning: May cause rib pain from laughing too hard!)  Four to six people can play, and it is recommended for ages 8 and up.  (Our 6-year-old partners up with someone so that he can play, too.) 

The game starts with a sentence, one that each player draws from the deck of cards -- or, if you prefer, you can do what our family does and just make up sentences of your own.  Write the sentence on one of the papers provided, and then draw a picture depicting the sentence.  Place the paper in a "paper scroll" and roll it up so that only the picture is visible.  Scrolls are then traded with other players', and now each person must create a new caption for the picture they see.  Roll the papers up again so that only the caption shows, and now a different player draws a picture. 

When the scrolls have changed hands a total of 7 times, all of the scrolls are placed on the table (with only the final picture showing), and players try to guess which one has their original sentence.  Then the scrolls are unrolled, and the laughter begins!  The game provides tokens you can use to a) claim the scroll you think is yours (if you're right, you get to keep the token) and b) award to the funniest paper.  And then whoever ends up with the most tokens wins.  When we play the game, however, we ignore the tokens and just play to have fun!

Our family keeps all of the papers used in previous games -- they are just too funny to throw away!

Do you have any favorite word games that aren't listed here?  I'd love to hear about them!

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