A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Boredom Busters

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Personally, I could read and write all day long -- and never get bored -- but I know some kids and adults like to take a break from reading and writing once in awhile. :)  If you're looking for something fun to do this summer, maybe when it's raining or it's just too hot to play outside,  I listed several word-related games that our family enjoys on a previous post (here), and thought I'd share a few more of them today:

Scrabble Crossword Cubes Game...
Listed for ages 10 and up, this game can be played as solitaire or competitively, by any number of players.  It doesn't look like Crossword Cubes Game is still manufactured or sold in stores, but I checked, and it can be found for sale online.  (I picked up our well-worn game box at a garage sale one time.)

Consisting of 14 cubes (with a letter on each side), a cup, and a timer, this game is simple -- shake the cubes in the cup, toss, then form words with the letters on top of the cubes before the time is up, across and down, crossword-style.  Each letter used has a score; just add them up to see who wins the round!

Two to seven players (ages 7 and up) can play this game.  (There is also a single player version.)  Drawing from 144 letter tiles, players make their own connecting and intersecting words until all the tiles have been used.  Players do not take turns, but play independently and at the same time.  Words can be rearranged as desired.  There are other rules as well (specific times to call out "Split!" or "Peel!", among other things), but this is the basic game, in a nutshell (er... banana peel).

Rory's Story Cubes...
Our family received this game just a few months ago, and I took the photo above the day we got it.  It has since been opened and played many times! :)  For one or more players, this game is listed for ages 8 and above -- but my 6-year-old loves to play it as well.  According to the creators, Rory's Story Cubes consists of "9 cubes, 54 images, 10 million combinations, and unlimited stories."  Just roll the dice, then use the images to inspire a creative story, either told individually or through group effort.  There are no winners or losers in this game, just lots of imagination and fun!

Mad Libs...
Mad Libs are tablets of short stories, with key words replaced by blanks (and a label telling what kind of word should go there: adjective, noun, exclamation, verb, etc.)  There are many different versions available, including Christmas Mad Libs, Vacation Mad Libs, Star Wars Mad Libs, and Sports Mad Libs... just to name a few!

To play a game, one person looks through the tablet, picks a story, then tells the other players what kinds of words are needed for the blanks, writing each one down in its spot. Any number of people can play, of any age (though younger kids may need explanations about the various parts of speech). When the story is completely filled in, the writer reads the story aloud.  Generally, lots and lots of laughter will ensue! :)

My friends and I used to play Mad Libs in elementary school, especially when it was raining or really cold outside and we had recess indoors.  This is also a perfect game for the car -- we take at least one tablet along on all of our family trips!  You can also play online at the website, It's a Mad Libs World!

The creators of Mad Libs also made this:
Mad Libs Card Game...
This card game is for two to six players, ages 8 and up.  Players draw 10 cards, each with a word on it, either a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, or a "wild card".  Players then use their cards and try to create grammatically correct (though probably silly!) sentences.

If you want to play a game, but don't have anyone else around to play with, some of the games above do have solitaire versions.  There are also many books with one-player word games inside them.  I checked these two middle-grade books out from the library, and there was a whole shelf of others besides (as well as word game books for young adult and adult readers):

Word Teasers
written by Dympna Hayes and Melanie Lehmann 
and illustrated by Jeff Dickson, Shane Doyle, 
and Jodi Shuster, 1987

This book is filled with a wide variety of games and activities -- words to unscramble, finding the word that doesn't belong in a list of words, secret codes to solve, silly riddles, and tongue twisters.

Too Hot to Hoot:
Funny Palindrome Riddles,
written by Marvin Terban 
and illustrated by Giulio Maestro, 1985

If you are amused by palindromes and other word play, this book is for you!  It is filled with palindrome riddles (starting out easy, but then getting longer and harder), phrases, sentences, and even palindromic numbers.  In one section of the book, Terban also explains the stories behind three famous palindromes.

You may recall that I issued myself a challenge at the beginning of the month, to write at least one new poem each day in June.  I've met my goal so far -- yay!  One of the poems I wrote earlier this week was about playing a board game; I thought it would be appropriate to share it here:

Fun and Games

You say you’re bored?
Let’s play a game!
Our goal and aim.

Pick one from the
Game closet there –
I like them all
So I don’t care

Which one we play.
Oh, that one’s good!
Lay the board flat,
Please, if you would.

Choose your marker;
I’ll take this one.
You can go first.
Let's have some fun!

Taking turns now,
Spin the spinner.
Move the pieces –
Who’s the winner?

Now all around
The board we’ve been.
Our game’s over –
Let’s play again!

~ Janelle H.

What are your favorite word-related games?  I'm always looking for new games to add to our family's collection, and would love to hear suggestions!

(Psst... if you haven't read about the Big Blue Birthday Contest yet, please check out this post.)


  1. We LOVE story cubes! Have a set at the beach that we play with alot. Theres also a game called Boggle (made by hasbro). Its got letter dice in a cube with a plastic lid. You shake it and they fall into the grid. Using a 3-minute timer, you write down all the words you can make. Kinda like an older, board game version of the App called scramble. Its also great for travel.

  2. Thanks for the idea, Vincenza! I've played Boggle before, but we don't own it. Yet. :)

  3. I got EMily Story cubes on my I-touch she loves playing it. That Scrabble game looks cool. I may have to search for that! Thanks for the great ideas.
    You have to get Boggle. It is one of my favorites hands down!

  4. I love Bananagrams... and Scrabble... and all kinds of word-y games. My students are a big fan of the Scrabble Cheezits- we use them more like Bananagrams and then they can eat them! Yum!

    We're also trying a class Boggle this year- I'm making the board on a bulletin board and I'll change the letters every week. I saw it on Pinterest! :)

  5. Scrabble Cheezits and a bulletin board Boggle game sound like awesome ideas for the classroom, Melissa! How fun!