Word Game #1. “… that, isn’t that…?”
This game is played by someone pretending to not know the meanings of words. It might start with someone saying, “Pizzas, those are those things you use for climbing up high, isn’t it?”
If the other person doesn’t quickly call out “ladders” then you add a few more hints. “You should have someone holding the bottom of the pizza while you climb, and its bad luck to walk under one.”
If the other person does call out the right answer, then you quickly move onto another topic. “Ladders? No, no, ladders aren’t what you climb, ladders is what you feel when you haven’t had anything to drink and it is really hot out.”
We play it where we don’t acknowledge that a person has guessed what is being referred to except by adopting that word as the mis-defined word of the next topic. We started with very concrete things, and replacing words with other words that were of the same parts of speech, but often now will move into abstract ideas and using words as the wrong type of speech.
The kids and I take turns being the person making up the definitions, and when we’re really up to a challenge we’ll try to go back and use a handful of the previously defined words in a sentence. “If you feel ladders, you’d better get a drink before you climb back up the pizza to finish jumping the thirst.” In that example I’ve mis-used two words I haven’t redefined in this post yet “jumping” and “thirst.” You can do that in the game too occasionally and ask the kids to figure out by context what they could be.
Word Game #2. Word lists.
We make up a list of words and then ask which ones doesn’t belong. I’ve had to set some parameters because I lack my children’s ability to remember ten different words, so if they want to play it with more than four or five words they need to write them down. Sometimes the lists are obvious: “blue, green, grass, brown” but more fun are the times when we can argue on something. “Creeper, spider, enderman, wither” my minecraft obsessed nine year old says. Is it the wither, because you have to build him? Or is it the spider because he’s the creature that doesn’t “mob grief” or alter the environment on you?
Word Game #3. Add a word story.
We sit around a table and each of us adds one word to a story. The rhythm of grammar plays a bit part here, because if someone two spots ahead of you says a preposition, you can guess the next person will likely say an adjective and then you get to say a noun. If you say an adjective, you force the person after you to say either another adjective or a noun.
You can add a competitive element by creating a stack of cards with different types of words on them. Flip one up, and the next person to say that type of word gets a point against him or her. Keep flipping cards to find out what type of word to avoid.