How To Make The 11+ Word List Stick: 14 Word Games

Today you’re going to learn how to make learning new words fun with our vocabulary games!

Looking through the 11+ vocabulary lists and wondering how on Earth you’ll support your child in learning all of the vocabulary words?

Do you want to enhance your child’s vocabulary in a fun and effective manner?

Today you will be learning the 14 seriously fun vocabulary games. And yes! Most of these methods can be adapted for all ages.

Here we go!

Why Vocabulary Matters

Vocabulary is key to reading comprehension. Reading requires your child to interpret, decode and connect with the text. This can only happen successfully if they have a strong vocabulary and a good understanding of how to infer.

Further, an extensive vocabulary will also help your child with verbal reasoning and comprehension assignments. These are particularly popular for 11+ entrance exams.

Top 14 Games to Enhance Your Child’s Vocabulary

This list is a summary of our top favourite vocabulary games. I loved using these while I taught year 5 for all of our subjects, Science, Maths, Grammar, Topic, History… you get the idea…

I have arranged the list from least involved to more involved.

Looking for simple quick tips to boost their vocabulary tomorrow? Then start at the top!

Know that improvement in everything takes time and consistency and searching for fun ways to play while boosting vocabulary? Have fun reading to the end!

#11 is my favourite!

On the Fridge

Have your child spell out the words of the week with fridge magnets. Encourage them to use the words in every day life. Each time they are used properly, they get a point! A great way to integrate learning into every day life without a ‘sit down’ session.

Roll Cards

Have your child define one of the words they need to learn, then roll the dice. The number the dice shows is the number of points they earn. You can add different rules to this about stealing points from other players and double or nothing points if they can define the next word as well.

Create an Acrostic Poem

Acrostic poems are a fun and engaging manner to remember difficult vocabulary. The keyword gets written down the side of the page, and then your child creates a phrase or word that starts with each letter. The most important part is that the added information should relate well to the definition of the keyword.

Roll the Dice

This one is full of laughter and great for reviewing words already practised. Your child will choose a word and roll a dice. The number on the dice tells them to do one of the following:

1= Define the word.
2= Use it in a sentence.
3= Say a synonym for the word.
4= Say an antonym for the word.
5= Draw a picture example
6= Act it out.

Find the Pairs

This is a classic game with a vocabulary spin! Only play this game to review words.
There are two colours of paper; one for the vocabulary words and the other for the definitions (or antonym, or synonym).

After all of the paper (both colours) are placed evenly on the floor, players take turns choosing two cards at a time. The goal is to match the vocabulary words with their respective pair. If your child finds a pair then they get to keep the cards. The person with the most pairs wins!

They Said What?

Encourage your child to write the story of a conversation that just took place in a scene you’re looking at. This could be a still shot from a film. Youn can mute the TV and narrate the scene. Try to include lots of descriptive details about the characters speaking, as well as all your vocabulary words.

Who/What Am I?

This is great for reviewing topic vocabulary words in groups.
Start by assigning each child a word. They are to write a description that is written in the first person.

Example: The word is Photosynthesis
I am the process a plant is able to convert solar energy into “food”.

Once written, students are put into small groups. Each one reads their description while the others guess who/what they are.

Guess the Word

Rate this Word

Your child will have to decide what film rating the word will receive if it were a film.

For example: Ominous

Your child could say that this word is PG because parental guidance may be necessary if something worrying is about to occur. This could then spark a conversation of why PG and not PG-13. A response here may be along the lines of worries being all around us, but we become more aware of them in our childhood years (before 13).

This simple game requires the child to know the definition and think about it in the context of every day life. It can also help them create a narrative which would help with retention.

Be a Teacher

This is your child’s opportunity to choose a media format that will allow them to accurately and effectively teach about a word. This activity works well with themed words. They might decide to draw and write a book, create a slide show, film a video, or even record a podcast!

Fly Swatter

I played this during one of my teaching placements while I worked on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada… That was nearly a decade ago and it still ranks as one of my top favourite activities!

Place vocabulary words on the floor. Divide students into two teams. The first person from each team goes first. Give a clue, definition, or example for one of the words. The first person to swat at the correct word wins a point for his/her team, and then the next two students take a turn.

*Pro Tip: Purchase new Fly Swatters for this game…
**Pro Pro Tip: Go over safety rules before playing so there are no ‘well I didn’t know’

Narrate This!

This one acts as a great starter and ice breaker.
Watch funny videos and ask children to write the response or a monologue of the character in the video.

This video will have every one crying from laughter.

Binketball

Another great way to inspire the more reluctant children to engage with the words… appeal to their inner competitor! This is best played with 3+ children.

Ask your children/adults to line up at a starting point. Ask the first person a question about the vocabulary word. This can be a synonym, a definition, or used in a sentence. The first person’s task is to identify the vocabulary word. Should they get it right, they have a chance to shoot a ball into the bin. If they make a basket, they get a bonus point.

Feel free to bring this one outside to the field on a beautiful sunny day!

Pop/Snap

This game includes chance. You will use vocabulary words that are printed on paper. Include in this pile a few cards that say ‘POP’ on them.

Start by placing the cards in a container. Your child pulls a card and if it has a word, must give the definition (or synonym, or antonym, or use it in a sentence.) Should they get a POP card, they must put all of their cards back into the container.

Jeopardy

This is a great spin off of the normal game of Jeopardy.

Start by writing out all of the vocabulary words on square pieces of paper. On the opposite side of the word, place a monetary value. The easier words should have a lower value and the trickier words a higher value.

The categories can be as follows:

  • Define the Word
  • Provide and Antonym
  • Provide a Synonym
  • Say a sentence using the word correctly
  • Draw a picture

Each player then gets to take a turn by choosing a category and a monetary amount. The card is flipped showing the word the player needs to use. Should they complete the task appropriately, they would be awarded the number on the flip side of the card. If they do not do it correctly they will lose their turn.

Conclusion on Vocabulary Games

We hope this article helped you learn how to enhance your child’s vocabulary using 14 different word games.

You may also want to see our Comprehension Club to make sure that your child is getting the support they need in English Reading.

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FULLY SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH

Everything that we do at Bettering Youth is backed by evidence, which is why we wanted to share with
you the research for which we have based our highly successful programmes on.

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