10 Fabulous Vocabulary Building Activities for Kids

10 Fabulous Vocabulary Building Activities for Kids Cover Image

Vocabulary plays an integral role in almost everything be it reading, talking, building confidence, personality and so on. It helps in navigating our life in a better way in all aspects. Having said there is no particular age to start off…in fact, earlier the better as one learns more with time. So, how to go about it? Read on and find out!

Learning for kids has to be fun, especially if you want them to like it and to keep up their interest levels high. As for me, I love discovering games or activities for Rey to create a fun learning atmosphere. Same for building vocabulary. One of the best ways to improve your child’s vocabulary is to play word games and activities. Start practicing it at home as it can be fun and engaging for the whole family!

I found some exciting Vocabulary building activities which I would like to share with you.

Build a Sight Word

This activity is appropriate for 4 year olds and above, where sight words are usually introduced. This is quite a simple activity and requires the simplest of resources that’s commonly available in all kids’ toy stock – Blocks.

How to Play: Write down the word you want to introduce to the child on the biggest block.  Now split the letters of the same word on the smaller blocks and have it fit on the bigger one as shown in the picture. For little grown up kids, you can come up with words like isn’t (is not), won’t (will not), hadn’t (had not) and so on.

Guess the Animal

Trust me this is a super fun game for all ages and not only does it build vocabulary but also strengthens cognitive skills.

How to Play: The game goes this way, give your child a rhyming word and have them guess the animal that rhymes with it. You can replace the animal with any object, bird , characters etc. Increase the difficulty level for grown-ups.

Example 1: I rhyme with a bat, I am ? Ans: Cat
Example 2: I rhyme with make and you can eat me, I am? Ans: Cake

Word Hunting

This is a fun game and can be played in different variations. This can be played with little ones using simple words that you want to introduce to them.

How to Play: Make a square grid with hidden words here and there. Give a list of words to be searched from the grid.  Introduce a book or topic to be read and provide kids with written material (i.e., newspapers, magazines, dictionaries, books, and/or news articles on the Internet). Have them find a set of words which end in a particular pattern.

Example: Language Arts
Have kids use any story book like for eg: The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and have them find all the words that end with a particular vowel pattern word.
From a science book have kids find some animal habitats from the chosen text.

Name/Place/Animal/Thing

A classic and an all time favourite for most of us. As the name suggest one has to write down a name of a person, name of a place, animal and thing.

How to Play: Each player has to randomly decide a letter turn by turn. So for example first player picks the letter ‘C’ so all the players then write down their chosen word on respective columns. The player is rewarded 1 point for every correct answer. If any two players get common answer, then no points are rewarded. If the answer is not accepted (eg. if name of the animal does not exist), or if the entry is wrong, the player gets zero points. Keep a time limit for the game. The final points only matter. EXCITING!

Countdown

This game is sure to entertain kids of all ages and you can therefore make the difficulty level age appropriate.

How to Play: Both the players randomly write 9 different letters on a sheet turn by turn (one letter at a time). Take for eg: BMKWELCOP, in this case, the first player first writes B then the second player writes M and so on. Once 9 letters are done, both the players have to make as many words as possible in a limited time. COW, WEB, COME, POLE, BOW, LOW, MOP, MOB, LOB, COP, POKE, COPE are a few words that can be made from the above random letters.

Hangman

A classic game one can never get bored of. This game can be played by 2 players. The host will choose a secret word that the other player will have to guess. The other player needs to guess the word letter by letter.

How to Play: Draw a blank line for each letter in the word. For example, if the host chooses the word “Puzzle” she/he would draw six blanks, one for each letter ( _ _ _ _ _ _ ). Once the word has been selected and the player knows how many letters are there in the secret word, start guessing the letters. Whenever the player guesses the right letter fill the blank, if the player guesses a letter that repeats, fill in both letters like in this case letter ‘z’. Whenever the player guesses a letter that is not in the secret word it brings them closer to losing. To show this, the host draws a simple stick figure of a man being hung, adding a new part to the drawing with every wrong answer. The usual order goes like this:

  • First wrong answer: Draw an upside-down “L.” This is the post the man hangs from.
  • Second: Draw a small circle for the “head” underneath the horizontal line of the “L.”
  • Third: Draw a line down from the bottom of the head for the “body.”
  • Fourth: Draw one arm out from the middle of his body for the “arm.”
  • Fifth: Draw the other arm.
  • Sixth: Draw one diagonal line from the bottom of the body for the first “leg.”
  • Seventh: Draw the other leg.
  • Eighth: Connect the head to the post with a “noose.” Once you draw the noose the players have lost the game.

If the players get every letter of the word before the host finishes drawing the hangman, then they win. At any point a player can try to guess the entire word instead of a single letter, but if they guess the wrong word then the host should treat it as if they guessed a wrong letter. You can start with small words for kids, also with clues as to what the word is about. Like in the above example you can give a clue saying “something that has to be solved”. You can increase the difficulty level by introducing phrases, not giving any clues and so on.

I Spy

This is a simple word game that will not only help build vocabulary but also the power of observation.

How to Play: You can either arrange a lot of things or toys at a place like a flea market or just spot something nearby and tell kids the letter it begins with or the color of the object. Children must look around and try to guess what it is you “spied.”

Example 1: First player says:” I spy with my little eye something (insert color of object here- that is in color blue).” The other player keeps guessing the object. For little ones you can make it easier with a few clues like if its on the table or if it is smaller than my hand etc. You can increase the difficulty level for grown-ups with a little toughness and a timer.

Example 2: I spy with my little eye something that has a double letter in it or say two adjacent vowels in it. Have them guess it and have fun.

Words Within a Word

This is an easy and fun game with lots of learning and exploring.

How to Play: Take a long word (choose the word age appropriately) and the child has to form different words within the given long word. A simple example for kids, the word MANGO and the words that can be made could be go, no, man, an, ago, on. Increase the difficulty level by giving a tough word and also set a timer. This can be played at all ages and is guaranteed to be fun at all levels.

Hink Pink

Kids of all ages will definitely adore this game Hink Pink. This is quite the brainstorming activity for both the host and the participant!

How to Play: A person thinks of two-single syllable rhyming words, like ‘shoe glue’. So she/he has to work out on a clue that should lead (eventually!) to the answer “shoe glue.” One clue could be “sneaker paste”; make it easier or more difficult depending on the age of the guesser. The guesser tries to work out what the two rhyming words are.

Few Hink Pinks are:

  • Atlas catcher: map trap
  • Thrift loser: cheap creep
  • 24 hrs with toy: play day
  • 50% giggle : half laugh
  • Move female deer: go doe
  • A bird’s foot defect: claw flaw

The Prime Minister’s Cat

Yet another entertaining vocabulary games is The PM’s Cat.

How to Play: All players sit in a circle, and the first player describes the minister’s cat with an adjective beginning with the letter ‘A’ (for example, “The minister’s cat is an amazing cat”). Each player repeats using different adjectives starting with the same letter. Once everyone completes, the first player describes the cat with an adjective beginning with the letter ‘B’. This continues for each letter of the alphabet. There are different variations to the game. You can play in a way where the first player describes the minister’s cat with A, the next player with B and the next C and so on.

Another variation with the difficulty level a little high, can be memorising the adjective the previous player has used and adding his/her own adjective beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. So the fifth player might say “The Minister’s cat is an awesome, bold, cunning, delightful, elegant cat.”

One Letter Change Up

This is sure to tickle your brain cells and the best part – you’ll never want to give up. Quite simple and enjoyable, this game has to be up in your list.

How to Play: Have a short 4 letter word eg: Bake. The players then have to replace one letter at a time, turn by turn to make a new word. You will be amused to see the word you started with has not only made many new words but would also result in arriving at a completely different word from that of the original.

Example: Bake – Fake, Make, Male, Tale, Tape, Cape, Care, Rare and the list goes on and on. It’s fun.

So, get on board the vocabulary train and try these really simple, fun, very entertaining vocabulary building activities that needs nothing more than the simplest of the resources. Pen, paper, you and the game is yours. They are great for enhancing a lot of skills like social skills: waiting for their turn, how to negotiate; conversational and communication skills by indulging in an intellectual workout: understanding the rules, applying strategy and endurance: be it winning or losing, these games are more of learning than the result and thus the kids play till the very end.

Do try out these games that can be played anywhere anytime and have lots of fun. These games will keep the kids engaged and happily occupied as they learn along the way.

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