Top 5 Board games for building strong vocabulary [2022]

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Vocabulary and boards games? Is it really happening???

Vocabulary building, till now, used to be a task that saw the use of books, dictionary or lexicons only.

However, the students could not report much growth in their word’s repertoire using books. After all, how much can they read and retain?

There is a limit to reading, reflecting, and absorbing from reading books and gaining theoretical knowledge. The limit constricts further if any child has a reading disorder of any kind.

Researches reveal that the children carry forth the poor reading skills all their life when left unattended or not diagnosed. These skills lead to other problems like poor spelling, poor pronunciation, and of course, poor vocabulary.

It is mentioned in a book, ‘Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core‘, by Marilee Sprenger that a good vocabulary is a collective outcome of:

  • Person’s prior knowledge
  • Family environment – How much people converse with each other in the family
  • School education received
  • Living condition – exposure to a toxic environment and poor nutrition interfere with learning ability (Perry, 2001)
  • Self-interest in enriching knowledge of words

Why consider board games for vocabulary?

Words are the building blocks of any language. You are said to be fluent in a language when you know the spelling, pronunciation, and usage of words well.

Enough has been said about the importance of book reading in building vocabulary. But, what if book reading does not help the way it is supposed to be?

This is where the teaching tools step in and provide a plausible solution. One such tools are board games for building vocabulary.

The board games help following ways in building vocabulary:

  • Board games offer an engaging tool to practice
  • The board games for vocabulary offer a way to stimulate and challenge the minds to grasp the word building concepts
  • Board games offer a premise to apply prior learning or prior knowledge
  • Scores and halls of fame encourage to do better each time, excelling the word skills in the process

Some board games help improve reading fluency, others provide support for boosting spellings; and there are still others that may allow you to understand the meaning and usage of words in a contextual manner.

Let’s take a look at the best board games that may help you build vocabulary and become a wordsmith with practice and participation

Top 5 board games for vocabulary

1. Code Names

Code Names vocabualry board game

Figure out clues and identify the secret identities of all 25 agents. The game play involves identifying the agent fastest to win the game. Thus, this board game offers an awesome vocabulary building support by the way of word identification. For example, a word ‘hot’ is flashed. The users who can pick the words that they can associate with ‘hot’, such as, fire, summer, cake, etc. get to know the secret agent. What an incredible way to work up the mind to learn more words!

The game is played in a time-pressed manner, which contributes further in faster association of words. A person very good in vocabulary is fluent too, that fluency of thought becomes easier to achieve with this board game for vocabulary, Code Names.

To sum up, its advantages are:

  • quick association
  • synonym learning
  • word concept learning
  • word family learning

2. Scrabble

scrabble vocabulary board game

Scrabble is not just another board game but a legacy! Designed by an American genius Alfred Butts, to cheer and uplift the spirit of people during the Great Depression in 1929, the Scrabble board game has been changing hands generation to generation to date. It refuses to slow down in terms of popularity among vocabulary learners.

Scrabble allows players to think about how to use words to decode the clues mentioned on the board. The beauty of this game is that there is no score to keep compulsorily. However, if you have just the feeling of accomplishment of making words as many as possible is an unmatched reward.

Scrabble helps in following ways:

  • The act of choosing words based on clues helps build word comprehension and contextual usage
  • Attempting to make longer words contributes to better spelling quality
  • You can play it in a time-pressed manner to improve the word recall
  • It allows you to stimulate the mind to think in direction of quicker and correct word formation
  • Scrabble is a great resource for learning spellings as the words do not fit unless these are spelled correctly.

3. Catan

Catan vocabulary building board game

Words mean nothing when they are lying scattered on a paper with no relation to one another. They make a sensible story when they are woven contextually. Also, the words explain the context better when a person knows how to use them according to the domain’s requirement. Means, if you are talking about a school, you can explain things better when you have knowledge about the words like teacher, curriculum, student, performance, and others. Contextual learning is an important part of vocabulary building. Catan does something similar to the learners.

Designed using civilizations at the backdrop, this board game can help in knowing about the words common to human life. The users will learn and enrich their vocabulary without actually realizing the process. It can help in:

  • Story building skills
  • Sentence reading fluency
  • Comprehension skills
  • Vocabulary skills

So, relive your childhood days with your kids, play with them this board game for vocabulary, and refine your word building skills as well.

4. Smart Ass – The Ultimate Trivia Board Game

Smart Ass - The Ultimate Trivia Board Game

Word intelligence is not about spelling and pronouncing them correctly only. It also means ability to name the things, people, situation, etc, correctly.

Smart Ass is a board game for vocabulary building that involves guessing the name, place, animal, thing, etc. on the basis of the clues read out. Since the person is reading out the clues, it gives good reading practice first of all. Second, you will be able to work up your brain to find the correct word based on the clues.

So, you acquire word recall, aptness of word use and the knowledge of functionality of any word by playing this game as a pastime. Main benefits of this board game for vocabulary are:

  • conceptual identification of word
  • quick word recall
  • comprehension skill
  • refine the word reading skill

You can use this game further to ask the player to make sentence with the word guessed, enabling learning of application of word in the right context.

5. 5 Second Rule Game

5 Second Rule Game vocabulary building board game

A fun-filled way of knowing and learning words of daily use! This happening fast-paced game allows you to recollect the words of common use and provide the answer within 5 seconds. You may choose to start the game with a 7-second time limit, and gradually come to 5 seconds, when you want to ease the challenge for the kid players.

There are some adult versions of the game also available that contain tougher questions, that may take longer to answer. Thus, your fumbling for the words and furnishing the wrong answer at times can create some fun moments.

5 second rule board game for vocabulary makes it easier for the players to acquire skills like:

  • fluency in thoughts
  • knowledge of word families
  • quick recall of words
  • smooth word association
  • reinforcement of word use concept

You can also ask the players to explain anything unique about the answers to help children learn about the identifying features of animals, eatables, etc.

Interesting vocabulary learning activities using board game as tool

One of the classic ways of building vocabulary is to build a lexicon of your own. But, you are most likely to abandon it or may feel unable to retain the learning. Board games can make this situation better, without realizing the learning process.

Some of the interesting learning activities you can do using board games are:

a. Encourage to speak on the topic: Board games offer easy access to words of varying complexity. So, you can use the words to encourage players to speak on the topic. This enables vocabulary learners to gain fluency in thoughts.

b. Give write to learn challenge – What you do orally in word guessing board game, you can employ that gameplay to create a writing competition. The challenge can be to write other words of the same families, or words starting with the same letter, rhyming word writing, etc.

Board games have always been on the radar of researchers who want to create friendlier tools to inculcate skills like vocabulary, spellings, etc. Even when you have grown up, you can continue playing board games for vocabulary to have fun and achieve a revision of concepts learned long back or missed learning in the education phase.

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