Fun and educational games to play with your grandchildren

Grandparent visits can be fun times for children, but they are even more fun when you add games into the mix. Children absolutely love to play games and having family members involved in them is actually one of the joys of youths that almost everyone remembers fondly.

In addition to that, making learning fun is essential to your grandkids’ educational development. Boost their verbal skills with entertaining games that engage their minds. Play along and watch them turn into wonderfully colorful wordsmiths.

Here are five games to fill their mental dictionaries. The best part? Each one is so much fun the kids won’t even realize they’re doing something educational!

DIY Mad Libs

These nonsensical story games brought you to tears of laughter when you were a kid. They’re timeless and kids still love them. Here’s a do-it-yourself version that could have the kids in stitches. Write a few short stories about the kids, their pet, or anything else they love. When you’ve finished the story, delete 15 words and write the words’ part of speech — noun, adjective, verb, or other — in parentheses. Work together to fill in the blanks, explaining that a noun is the name of a person, place, or thing; a verb is an action word, and an adjective or adverb is a descriptive word. You’ll all laugh out loud when you read the story with the blanks filled in.

Word Detective

Have the kids try to find as many words as they can contained within a word. “I write a big word on the board, like vocabulary,” says Stefanie Greenberg, a second-grade teacher in Midland Park, N.J. “Then I ask my students to write down as many words as they can make out of those letters. Like ‘bar,’ ‘cab,’ and ‘buy.'” You and your grandkids can do this as a team, or go head-to-head to see who can find the most hidden words.

Word Association

High school Latin may be a little advanced for the kids, but take a cue from Anthony Stromoski, the head of the Language Department at the Brooklyn Latin School in Brooklyn. “I give my students a word in Latin and have them come up with other words — in any language — that look or sound similar,” he says. You can tweak this game for young children and just ask for synonyms. For example you could say “happy” and ask them to name words with a similar meaning. Teach new words by dropping in advanced picks like “jovial.”

Wheel of Fortune

In an attempt to steal some of the fun that Pat and Vanna offer, Fran Ferra, a first-grade teacher in Ridgefield, N.J., has adapted the game for her classroom. “I tape a photo facedown on the board and draw blanks for each letter of the item in the photo. As the children guess the correct letter, I write them in the blank spaces. The first person to guess the picture correctly gets a point.” Use photos from family albums or old magazines.

Word Sorts

English is a tough language because of all its wacky phonics rules (what’s with that occasional silent t in “castle” and “listen” and “fasten”). Help the kids make sense of it by picking a rule at random — like the igh sound in “night” — and ask them to make a list of other words that follow the same rule. Talk it out with them — you’ll make some silly noises together and they’ll learn a lot at the same time.

There are plenty of other games you can play with your grandchildren. Of course there are a ton of board games and electronic games these days, but try one of these word games next time. You might be surprised at how quickly your grandchildren take to them.

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