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Create a Language Rich Environment with Games


In the car the other night Simon announced, "I feel uneducated." He heard me hashing out some thoughts about a homeschooling method that is different than our own. He heard about a co-op where the kids his age spend an hour each week learning grammar. So Simon's announcement was quickly followed by a question, "What is grammar?" 

His question fed my fear about the way we do things around here–where we don't start formal grammar until 8th grade. Before I had a chance to spit-out a carefully calculated response, and before I had a chance to bite my nails or grip the steering wheel a little tighter, Simon replied to his own question. "Is that like a noun? A person, place, or thing?" "Is grammar about verbs? Action words? Burp and fart?" 

My eyes widened in wonder. How? How did he know? He must have sensed my questions because he started talking again. "Those books you gave me. You know. Those Mad Libs." 

Right. Those. Mad Libs. Word Games. 

Create a Language Rich Environment in Your Homeschool with Word Games from Walking by the Way

I explained to Simon, "Different families do things differently. Some homeschool families use spelling books and grammar workbooks in elementary school. That's fine. We use word games. And that's fine, too. I think you just proved to yourself that you are not uneducated." 

Playing with words is an excellent way to learn some language arts basics without ever opening a textbook or scribbling in a boring-old workbook. Playing games also gives you opportunities to build memories and think critically.

Here are our favorite word games. 


Games for a Language Rich Environment from Walking by the Way

This little yellow banana has been around the world with us! We've also played Banangrams countless times at our dining room table. This was probably Elijah-the-word-lover's favorite game when he was in 3rd-4th grades.

Recommended Age: 7+

View the video for instructions for playing Banangrams

Lickety Quick

Games for a Language Rich Homeschool

Lickety Quick is super fabulous for children (like mine) who don't have a formal grammar program. Students can learn some of the parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) and other language arts concepts with this fast paced card game. Sometimes I let Simon play it as a single player–just to see how quickly he can go on his own without any competition from me; he usually wants to complete the entire deck!

Recommended Age: 8+ (I think younger children would enjoy this, too.)

Pathwords and Pathwords Jr. (junior version pictured below)

Word Games for a Language Rich Homeschool Environment

Pathwords (ages 12+) and Pathwords Jr. (ages 6+) combine words and critical thinking to solve the puzzles. Both of my boys enjoy these single player games. 

View the video for instructions for playing Pathwords


Mini Mouth Word Game

Fun Word Games for Your Homeschool

A short, simple, easy-to-take with you game! You always have time to play Mini Mouth. The trick is to remember that the tiles with asterisks can be used alone. We all give this game a thumb's up! 

Recommended Age: 8+

View the video for instructions for playing Mini Mouth.

Word A Round

Best Word Games for Your Homeschool

Word A Round is a new game for us, and it's Elijah's new favorite. Each card has three words found in the three rings around the card; one word is hiding in each color. Your job is to find where the word starts, so you can determine what it is. It sounds easy, right? Not for this old lady! Even though Elijah won with an obnoxious amount of points, I still think this game is a TON of fun.

Recommended Age: 10+

Watch the video and learn how to play Word A Round.

Boggle and Boggle Jr.

Great Games for Your Homeschool

You can tell by the photo that this is a well-loved oldie here; it's starting to look vintage!

Boggle and Boggle Jr. are great games for secret spelling practice. 

Recommended Age (for Boggle Jr.): 3-6 years

Pass the Peas

Word Games for a Language Rich Environment

Simon says Pass the Peas is his FAVORITE game right now. You get 10 tiles (or peas) and you build a word in your pod. Every player passes to the left and tries to add on to make a new word. Pass to the left again and repeat. It is brain bending, for sure; you are super proud of yourself when you turn "sneaky" into "speaker" — I promise! 

Note: We stretch the time limit on this because we are nerds and like to use dictionaries to try to build bigger words; you can rewrite the rules for this game to suit your family's needs!

Recommended Age: 8+

Word on the Street Junior

Best Word Games for Your Homeschool from Walking by the Way

Word on the Street Junior sneaks in a ginormous dose of spelling practice WITHOUT any writing (this is extremely important for my guy). You will battle it out for each letter and have to use strategy and play defense in order to win this game. Love, love, love it!

Recommended Age: 8+

Watch the video to learn how to play Word on the Street.


Word Games for Your Homeschool

This is a newer game for us, and we are still breaking it in. If Jenga and Scrabble were to have a baby, well, it would be Konexi. The goal is to add a letter to make a word from connected letters (word does not have to be in order). The trick is adding it–the tower can't fall or you get a penalty. I'm good at that.

Recommended Age: 10+

Watch the video to learn how to play Konexi.

Do you love word games, too?
What word games would you add to this list for a language rich homeschool?

Motivate Your Child to Write Poetry

My Simon-boy just started writing.

A few days ago I showed him the free web interactives at ReadWriteThink, and asked him which one he would like. He has lots of ideas. Big ideas for future writing projects, but none of them included poetry. That's okay. 

But I want to stretch him a bit. And I love poetry. And the poetry apps look amazing. 

I suggested, "A poem?"

"I don't want to write a poem. I mean I like poems. I like it when you read poetry to me. I like my white books of poetry, but I never thought about writing a poem before." 

I tried with an invite: "I'll write a poem, and you can help!" 

He looked up, wriggled his mouth a bit, and decided this arrangement would work.

I loaded the Diamante interactive. I chose words. He chose words. And in ten minutes we had written and published our first poem together. 

Simon admitted, "I think I can write another poem."

Poetry writing is fantastic for children as it teaches them to consider each word choice. Motivate your child to write poems with these five interactive web apps!

Your little (and not so little!) poets may also be inspired with the web apps at ReadWriteThink. Try these five!

The poetry interactives also come in app versions you can download for your iPad or Android.

Haiku Poem 
Haiku is such a great form for beginning poets. Recommended for grades 3-12. If you don't have a desktop computer, find the Haiku app here.

Write a Haiku Poem with this Interactive from ReadWriteThink

Found Poem 
I cannot wait to ask my older son if he wants to try this one out! Recommended for grades 3-12. Find the Word Mover app here.

Write a Found Poem with ReadWriteThink's Word Mover Interactive

Theme Poem
Play with your words! Recommended for K-5. Find the app version here.

Compose a Theme Poem with ReadWriteThink's Interactive

Diamante Poem
This one is for K-12! One of my first positive poetry writing experiences was a diamante poem. Enjoy your process and product. Find the app version here.

Create a Diamante Poem with ReadWriteThink's Interactive

Acrostic Poem
Another poetry writing experience for K-12; this interactive also has an app.

Try an acrostic poem with ReadWriteThink's interactive

If you are looking for more happy homeschool writing ideas, I have Creative Writing lessons here, and an entire board of goodness on Pinterest.

9 Tools to Engage a Ready or Reluctant Writer

He sits at the keyboard and plunk, plunk, plunks the keys. (I am so thankful he learned to type!) He calls to me from the other room, "Mom! Mom! I have 4,322 words!" My heart hops. Lately, both of my boys are crafting with words and enjoying it.

So I have been plunk, plunk, plunking on the keyboard, too–trying to compose words about how I might be raising two writers and how I might have some secret tips about doing this. As I work on my post, I am pointed to the various tools we have used, and I realize I have never shared about the amazing student interactives at ReadWriteThink where students can create a comic strip or post card, compose a letter or fractured fairy tale, and design a brochure or story cube. 

In our homeschool the goal is not a frustrated writer. The goal is not a bored writer. The goal is a writer who writes. And likes it. I would not endorse forcing a grumbling, grimacing child to plop down in front of a computer to complete one of these assignments. These should be presented more like games–something exciting–something you can even write and publish together. All of the interactives encourage writers to write–even though some of them seem more like play than work.


ReadWriteThink has scads of interactives, but I chose the ones I think are best for inspiring aspiring writers. (Say that ten times fast!) Here goes:

Comic Creator
Comic Creator was the first ReadWriteThink interactive we ever used. Your student can compose a comic, print, and then draw the characters. Writing a comic strip includes planning, creative thinking, humor, and artistic skill! You should be super proud of your student if he attempts a comic strip. 

You can find a more complex comic creator at Make Beliefs Comix.

Inspire Your Student to Write with ReadWriteThink's Comic Creator

Cube Creator
I am a little bit in love with The Cube Creator. It encourages writing that isn't so threatening. Similar to my Help! I'm Writing a Story exercise, it only asks the student to prewrite. It gives prewriting cues for biography/autobiography, short story, and mystery. If this exercise entices your student to write beyond the prewriting, then encourage him to do just that, but please, for the love of pens and pencils (and stressed out student writers) everywhere, don't require it.

Fractured Fairy Tales
A story writer or fairy tale fan might be interested in Fractured Fairy Tale

Inspire Your Writer with ReadWriteThink's Fractured Fairy Tale Interactive

Letter Generator
Compose a letter with the Letter Generator.

Inspire Your Student to Write with ReadWriteThink's Letter Generator

Post Card Creator
Art and writing collide the Post Card Creator. Create a post card and print it. Complete the art work on the front and give it to a friend or family member! Writing is meaningful when there is an intended audience.

Inspire Your Student to Write with ReadWriteThink's Post Card Creator

Printing Press
With the Printing Press, your student can generate a brochure, flyer, sign, poster, or newspaper! So many writing opportunities. 

Animal Inquiry
Animal Inquiry
is perfect for the student who loves to read about animals–a great introduction to research!

Inspire Your Student to Write with ReadWriteThink's Animal Research Interactive

Crossword Puzzles
Constructing a cross word puzzle? Does that count as writing? You bet! It requires lots of planning and thinking and writing! Cross Word Puzzle Maker

Inspire Your Student to Write with ReadWriteThink's Crossword Puzzle Maker

Book Cover Creator
Designing a book cover is great for the student who has a big idea for a book but isn't ready to compose a gigantic story. The Book Cover Creator could also serve as a pre-writing exercise. 

Inspire Your Student to Write with ReadWriteThink's Book Cover Creator

Take some time to check out these interactives then read this post highlighting five interactive apps for poetry writing.

If you are looking for more happy homeschool writing ideas, I have Creative Writing lessons here, and an entire board of goodness on Pinterest.

9 web interactive apps that will excite your homeschool student about writing!