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Play With Your Words, Don't Eat Them

These word-centric games and software programs focus on fun while helping to build important language skills.


The World Almanac for Kids Early Reading!
Ages: 3 - 5 yrs.
By: Chronicle Books  
Chronicle Books, $9.99 (Hard Cover)   

This puzzler deck is a collection of language and pre-literacy skill-builders leading to reading, embedded in lively, colorful activities the whole family can enjoy. Pick a card and collect objects starting with a letter, put words in categories, identify top-bottom and left-right, find letter shapes, complete rhymes, sequence story pictures from beginning to end, play with lower and upper case letters, and apply size and spatial words. With several different activities to encourage each skill, the games stay fresh. The bold contrasting illustrations invite 3 to 5 year-olds to look for the answer on each card.

Kern Alphabet Card Games Kern Alphabet Card Games
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
U.S. Games Systems, $5.00

Kids can play matching, crossword and concentration games with these cleverly designed alphabet cards.

Now I Know My ABC's Now I Know My ABC's
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
innovativeKids, $16.99

This activity set combines the fun of a treasure hunt with the satisfaction of learning ABCs.

a-z Pegboards (lowercase)
Ages: 3 & Up
Lauri Toys, $42.95

The a-z pegboard set (lower case) includes 130 easy grip stackable pegs and 26 lower case pegboard letters made out of foam. The letters and pegs are brightly colored in red, yellow, blue, and green. The pegs fit easily into the letters to try matching the colors (put the red pegs in the red letters) or recognizing letters (put the blue peg in the blue "k"). Given the numerous activities one can do with the pegboard set, it appeals to a wide age group. Three year olds can focus on letter recognition while five year olds can work on spelling. It is the type of activity the siblings of different ages could do together and all be stimulated at their developmental level.

Learning to Read! First Words Learning to Read! First Words
Ages: 3 & Up
Carson-Dellosa Publishing, $9.99

Fourteen 3-piece puzzles introduce pre-schoolers to first words. Activity guide is included.

WordXchange Junior Edition WordXchange Junior Edition
Ages: 5 & Up
Prodijeux, $26.95

Got words? The junior sibling of Word Xchange, here, players add letters to create new words. The first player to complete and keep five word-cards wins. But players beware! Opponents can play, or pilfer others’ completed word cards. As our young testers said – this game is huge!

Bananagrams Bananagrams
Ages: 7 & Up
Bananagrams, $14.95

This word game brings crossword formation down to its basics. There’s no box, no game board, and no scoring. Just 144 smooth letter tiles pleasant to the touch. There’s also no waiting while other players take their turns. Everyone simultaneously works to create their own individual crosswords.

Buzzword Junior Buzzword Junior
Ages: 7 & Up
PlayMonster, $19.99

A version of Buzzword that makes play accessible to a younger set, Buzzword Junior tests players on their word skills by giving teams 45 seconds to solve a set of clues where all of the answers must include the buzzword. This game is great for sharpening your vocabulary. Although the words you have to guess aren't very difficult, with less than a minute to make your guesses, you have to be able to call up those words quickly. It's an appealing game for the family; the clue words are simple enough that players of all ages can guess most of them using the buzzword as guidance.

Ages: 7 & Up
Grand Isle Games , Inc., $9.95

In this word-building card game, easily adaptable to various skill levels, the object is to form words fast.

See It and Sign It
Ages: 7 & Up
Bill & Bud Toys, Inc., $24.99

Put fun at your fingertips while learning American Sign Language. With ten different game boards, cards, and secret decoder lenses, you will learn how to sign 60 words, the alphabet, and numbers one to ten. Also includes eight easy-to-remember guides and instructional DVD with demonstrations. Fun for one or more players.

Box of Silly Word Games Box of Silly Word Games
Ages: 8 & Up
Great American Puzzle Factory, $12.00

These twenty-five silly word games encompass everything we played as kids, and had so much fun doing! Each game has easy and concise rules that allow for maximum fun time! Comes with a die, pencil, paper, and sand timer. You will laugh yourself silly! !

Nerdy Wordy Nerdy Wordy
Ages: 8 & Up
Briarpatch, $14.99

You don’t have to be a nerd to play this crossword challenge. But you do need to use your imagination and word-forming skill to win. The object is to construct as many 2-to-5-letter words as possible, including making words within words to score extra points. For example, the word "HEART" also scores points for the words he, hear, ear, and art. Two players each have a crossword tray containing 25 slots in a 5x5 grid, into which letter cubes fit, and a lift-up cover so neither can see the other’s moves. Players alternate in selecting and announcing one letter, which both must place wherever they wish in their own tray.

Pick Two Deluxe
Ages: 8 & Up
Outset Media Games, $19.99

Pick Two Deluxe rewards word game enthusiasts with a robust run at vocabulary challenges. In Pick Two Deluxe, 240 tiles are placed face down at the center of the game table. Each player selects eight tiles and places them face down in front of his or her place at the table. Someone yells, "Go!" and play begins. Each player then arranges his/her own words in a crossword puzzle format with the tiles. The first player who uses all eight tiles says "Pick Two." Everyone stops playing, takes two more tiles from the center pile, and all continue to create new words. Play progresses in this manner until all the center pile letters are gone. The player to use all his/her letters at this point says, "Stop" and play ends. The numerical values of the unused tiles are recorded and after five rounds of play, the player with the lowest score wins.

Ages: 8 & Up
SET Enterprises, Inc., $12.00

This word-forming game, played like the card game rummy, challenges you to make either the most words or the longest word from your letter cards.


Ages: 8 & Up
Hasbro Games/Milton Bradley, $11.99

A Parents' Choice Classic Award winner, this game hasn't changed a bit in over 50 years, but remains just as fun and challenging as ever. Two to four players use wood tile letters, skill and lots of luck to battle in the ultimate war of words.

Ages: 10 & Up
PlayMonster, $14.99

Play is simple. A Buzz Word is announced (e.g. feet) and clues are given for terms that use the Buzz Word (e.g. procrastinate = drag your feet, commit wholeheartedly = jump in with both feet, and bad dancers have them = two left feet). Points are awarded for correct associations. Great for team play, party game play, or as a travel game.

Merriam-Webster's Word Sweep
Ages: 10 & Up
Intellinitiative Game Co., Inc., $29.95

Unlike most word games, this deals more with the meaning of words than their spelling. The object of the game is to guess three words that appear consecutively in a Merriam-Webster dictionary (any version) after hearing the definitions of the three words and their initial letter as read from a card. After the 40-second sand timer runs out, opponents get a chance to guess any words the player may have missed. The cards are divided into three decks: everyday words, intermediate words, and challenging words. But even though the "everyday" words are simple, the definitions may not be; definitions are frequently one of the more obscure ones at the end of the list.

Nymble Nymble
Ages: 10 & Up
Karmel Games, Inc., $26.97

Nymble, a simply designed word game, is ideal for those who enjoy Scrabble, Boggle, and Taboo. The object of the game is to earn points by spelling synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms ("nyms" thus the wordplay name Nymble) from nine letters chosen by rolling the dice. After each round, players read their word pairs, at which time players can challenge one another's words. Players then vote on whether to uphold or reject the challenge.

WordXchange WordXchange
Ages: 10 & Up
Prodijeux, $28.95

Make six words from randomly selected letter tiles in this fast-paced anagram game. But watch out: Other players can swoop in and steal your letters to make their own words.

Ages: 13 & Up
Entspire LLC, $14.95

It's hilariously funny, it's extraordinarily fascinating, it's orijinz, the brand new original word and phrase card game. It's a snap to learn: one player reads the origin and the others try to guess the word or phrase. You'll enjoy the guesses as much as the origins themselves! Product Description

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