List of 50 Great Word Games for Kids and Adults
If you want to improve your writing, maybe it’s time to ditch all the writing books and podcasts and play some word games instead.
Yes, seriously! Word games and writing games are great ways to develop your vocabulary, to help you think more deeply about words, to have fun with story and structure, and to get a lot of fun out of writing.
But games can be a great way to:
- Develop your vocabulary
- Help you think more deeply about words
- Become more fluent in English (if it’s a foreign language for you)
- Invent and develop characters
… and much more.
After the list of 50 writing games, I’ve given you a top ten that I think are particularly great for kids who want to practice their writing skills. Many of the other games are suitable for children, too, so by all means try out other games as a family if you want to.
Of course, there are loads of online games (and quizzes and tools) that you can use to improve your writing skills, and I will be talking about some of the best of those. But there are also lots of tried-and-tested classic games that you can play with pen and paper, or using cards and dice … and we’ll be taking a look at those first.
5 Pen and Paper Word Games
I’ll start with the simplest games: pen and paper ones that you can play pretty much anywhere, so long as you have a pen.
All of these are suitable for children, and some (like crosswords) are enjoyed by many adults too.
#1: Hangman (2+ players)
Hangman is a classic word game for two players. One player thinks of a word and writes down dashes to represent the number of letters. The other guesses letters of the alphabet. Correct letters are inserted into the word; incorrect letters result in another segment of the “hangman” being drawn.
This is a great game for developing spelling and vocabulary. If you’re playing it with small children, you can do it without the perhaps rather unpleasant “hangman” element, and just count how many guesses each player takes!
#2: Crosswords (1 player)
A crossword is a grid of white and black squares, where each white square is one letter of a word. The words intersect. You can find crosswords in many newspapers and magazines (on all sorts of subjects), and you can buy booklets and books full of them. Some crosswords are “cryptic”: great if you like brainteasers. Others have more straightforward clues.
Crosswords are great if you want to learn new words and definitions, or (at the cryptic end of the scale) if you enjoy playing with words and language. Simple ones are suitable for fairly young children, with a little help.
#3: Word searches (1 player)
A word search has a grid (often 10×10 or more) filled with letters, and a number of words written alongside or beneath the grid. The person completing the word search needs to find those words within the grid.
Most word searches are easy enough for children, though younger children will struggle with backward and diagonal words. They’re a good way to get used to letter patterns and to improve spelling – and because word searches rely on matching letters, even children who can’t read well will be able to complete simple ones.
#4: Consequences (2+ players, ideally 4+)
This is a fun game with a group of people, as you get a wild and wacky mix of ideas. Each player writes down one line of a story and folds the paper over before passing it around the table to the next player. The very simple version we play has five lines: (1) A male name, (2) The word “met” then a female name, (3) “He said …” (4) “She said …” (5) “And then …”
Once all five stages are complete, the players open out the papers and read out the results. This can be great for sparking ideas, or as a way to encourage reluctant writers to have a go.
#5: Bulls and Cows (2 players)
This game, which can also be called “Mastermind” or “Jotto” involves one player thinking up a secret word of a set number of letters. The second player guesses a word; the first player tells them how many letters match in the right position (bulls) and how many letters are correct but in the wrong position (cows).
Our five year old loves this game, and it’s been a great way to develop her spelling and handwriting as well as logical thinking about which letters can or can’t be the correct ones after a few guesses.
10 Board and Dice Games
These are all games you can buy from Amazon (or quite probably your local toyshop). They’re fun ways to foster a love of writing within your family, or to share your enjoyment of words with your friends.
#1: Scrabble (2+ players)
A classic of word games, Scrabble is a game played with letter tiles on a board that’s marked with different squares. (Some squares provide extra points.) Letters have different points values depending on how common they are. The end result of scrabble looks like a crossword: a number of words overlapping with one another.
If you want to develop your vocabulary (particularly of obscure two-letter words…) then Scrabble is a great game to play. It’s suitable for children too, particularly in “Junior” versions.
#2: Boggle (2+ players)
This is less well known than Scrabble, but it was one I enjoyed as a child. To play Boggle, you shake a box full of dice with a letter on each side, and the dice land in the 4×4 grid at the bottom of the box. You then make as many words as you can from the resulting face-up letters.
Again, this is a good one for developing vocabulary – and it can be played by children as well as by adults. You need to write down the words you come up with, which can also be good for developing handwriting.
#3: Pass the Bomb (2+ players)
It’s very simple to play: you deal a card for the round pass a “bomb” around the table and when it goes off, the person holding it loses. Before you can pass the bomb on during your turn, you need to come up with a word that contains the letters on the card.
It’s a fun family or party game, and can work well with a wide range of ages. It’s a great way to help children think about letter patterns, too, and to develop vocabulary and spelling.
#4: Story Cubes (1+ players)
There are lots of different versions of these available, and they all work in a similar way. The open-ended game has a set of cubes that you roll to create ideas for a story that you can tell along with the other players. If you prefer, you can use them to come up with stories that you’re going to write on your own.
There are lots of different ways you can use them: as writing prompts for a school class or group, to make up a bedtime story together with your children, for getting past your own writers’ block, or almost anything you can think of.
#5: Apples to Apples (2+ players)
Apples to Apples has red cards (with the name of a person, place, thing, etc) and green cards (with two different descriptions): the player with a green card selects one of the descriptions, and others have to choose a card from their hand of red cards. The judge for that game decides which red card best matches the description.
If you want to develop your vocabulary (or your kids’), this could be a fun game to play. There are lots of expansions available, plus a “junior” version with simpler words. (If you’re playing with adults, you might also want to consider Cards Against Humanity, a decidedly not-kid-friendly game that works in a very similar way.)
#6: Letter Tycoon (2+ players)
In this game, you have a hand of 7 cards which you can use in conjunction with the 3 “community cards” to create a valuable word. It’s a more strategic game than some others, with aspects of finance (like patents and royalties) involved too – if you’re a budding tycoon, you might really enjoy it.
Because not all the game strategy depends on simply being good with words, it doesn’t matter if some players have a larger vocabulary than others. It’s suitable for children, too, so you can play it as a family game.
#7: Dabble (2+ players)
Dabble is a family-friendly game where you compete with other players to be the first to create five words (of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 letters) using your 20 tiles. It’s very simple to get the hang of … but coming up with the words might be more challenging than you expect!
If you enjoy Boggle or Scrabble, you’ll probably have fun with Dabble. It’s a great way to develop both spelling and vocabulary, and to have fun with words.
#8: Upwords (2+ players)
Upwords is like 3D Scrabble: you can stack tiles on top of other tiles to create new words. The board is smaller than a Scrabble board (and doesn’t have double and triple word score squares) so it’s not as complex as it might initially sound.
Like similar games, it’s a great one for building vocabulary and for developing your spelling. It’s suitable for kids, too, so it could be a great game for the whole family.
#9: Tapple (2+ players)
Tapple has a wheel, with most of the letters of the alphabet on it, and lots of different “topic cards” that cover 144 different categories. There are lots of different ways you can play it – the basic rules are that each player has to think of a word that fits the topic within 10 seconds, but that word can’t start with a starting letter that’s been used previously.
While small children might find it a bit too challenging or frustrating, due to the short time limit, this could be a great game for older children looking to extend their vocabulary. All the categories are suitable for kids.
#10: Last Word (2+ players)
In Last Word, players have to come up with answers to “Subject” and “Letter” combinations, racing to get the last word before the buzzer. It works a bit like a combination of “Tapple” and “Pass the Bomb”.
You can easily play it with a large group (there are tokens for up to 8 players, but you could add more without affecting the gameplay). It’s a great way to develop vocabulary and, to some extent, spelling.
5 Roleplaying Games
While my geeky tendencies have been reined in a bit since I had kids, I’ll admit I have a great fondness for roleplaying games: ones where you come up with a character (often, but by no means always in a magic-medieval setting) and play as them. These are some great ones that you might like to try.
#1: Dungeons and Dragons (3+ players)
Although you might never have played Dungeons and Dragons, I’m sure you’ve heard of this classic roleplaying game that’s been around since 1974 and is now onto is 5th edition. It takes rather longer to get to grips with than a board or card game: to play, you need a “Dungeon Master” (essentially the storyteller of the game) and at least two players (who each control a character), plus rulebooks and a lot of different dice.
It’s a great game for developing the “big picture” aspects of writing, like the ability to construct a plot and a story (if you’re the Dungeon Master) and the skills involved with creating a character, giving them a backstory, and acting “in character” as them (if you’re one of the players).
#2: Amazing Tales (1 parent, plus 1 or 2 children)
This is a kid-friendly RPG aimed at parents who want to create a story with their child(ren). It’s like a very simple version of Dungeons and Dragons, and has straightforward but flexible rules. You can play it with a single six-sided dice – though it’s better if you have four dice (with six, eight, ten and twelve sides).
If you want to encourage your child’s creativity and have fun creating stories together, this is a wonderful game to play. The rulebook contains lots of ideas and sample settings, with suggested characters and skills … but you can come up with pretty much any scenario you like.
#3: LARP (Live Action Roleplay) (lots of players)
Over the past decade or so, LARP has become a bit more mainstream than it once was. It’s short for “Live Action Roleplay” … which basically means dressing up as your character and pretending to be them. It’s a bit like Dungeons and Dragons crossed with improv drama.
The nature of LARP is that it needs quite a lot of people, so unless you have loads of friends to rope in, you’ll want to join an organised LARP – there are lots out there, covering all sorts of different themes, from traditional fantasy ones to futuristic sci-fi ones. Some are suitable for children, but do ask event organisers about this. They won’t necessarily involve any sort of writing, but can be a great way to explore characters and dialogue.
#4: MUDs (lots of players)
MUDs, or “multi-user dungeons” have been around since the early days of networked computing in the ‘70s, and are the forerunners of games like Fortnite and World of Warcraft. They’re now distinctly retro-looking text-based online games, where players create a character and interact with other characters and the world.
Like other types of roleplaying game, they’re a great way to practice storytelling and character-development skills. They also involve a lot of writing – so they can be useful for things like vocabulary and spelling. Some are suitable for children, but as with anything online, do ensure your children know how to be safe (e.g. by not giving out their full name, address, etc).
#5: Online Forum Games / Forum Roleplaying (2+ players)
Some fan communities write collaborative fanfiction through forums (here’s an example), with different people posting little pieces as different “characters” to continue a story. These can be quite involved and complex, and they can be a great way to learn the skills of telling a long, detailed story (e.g. if you’re thinking of writing a novel).
They’ll probably appeal most to writers who are already producing fanfiction on their own, and who have a fair amount of time for the back-and-forth required for forum roleplaying. Again, if your child wants to get involved with this type of roleplaying, do make sure you monitor what they’re doing and who they’re interacting with.
10 Word Games You Can Play on Your Phone
These days, many writers are more likely to have their phone to hand than a pen and paper … and to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with that. You can easily make notes on a phone, whether by tapping them in or by recording them. If you find yourself with a bit of time on your hands, why not try one of these writing-related games?
Note: all of these are free to download, but most allow in-app purchases, and you may find you need to make a purchase to get the most out of them.
This game is a bit like a deconstructed crossword: you get bits of the puzzle and you drag them together to form words that will all match with the clue. If you’re a fan of crosswords and want something a bit different, you might just love it.
It’s a great way to think hard about letter patterns and how words are put together, so it might be a good game for older children who’re looking to develop their spelling and vocabulary, too.
#2: Dropwords 2
Dropwords 2 (a rewrite of the original Dropwords) is a word-finding puzzle where letters drop from the top of the screen: if you remember Tetris, you’ll get the idea. It’s a bit like Scrabble or Boggle, and you have to race the clock to make letters out of the words on the screen.
With six different modes (“normall”, “lightning”, “relax”, etc), it’s suitable for children and for people who are learning English, as well as for those wanting to really challenge their vocabulary skills.
Spellspire is a fantasy-style game where you select letters from a grid to create words: the longer the word, the bigger the blast from your magic wand! You can kill monsters, buy better equipment, and make your way to the top of the Spellspire.
If your kids aren’t very motivated to practice their spelling, this could be a great game for them. (Or, let’s face it, for you!) You can also choose to play it against your Facebook friends, adding a competitive element.
This is a relatively simple game that lets you create words from letters arranged on different dials. There are a couple of different ways you can play: by trying to use all the letters on the dials at least once to create words, or by tackling the “Clue Puzzles”, which are a bit like crossword clues.
Again, if you want to develop your spelling and vocabulary, this is a straightforward game that you can use to do so. You can buy extra puzzle packs at a fairly reasonable price, if you find that you want to play it a lot.
This crossword app uses pictures rather than written clues, which is a fun twist. You can use coins to get hints (you can earn these through the game, or purchase them with real money).
If you enjoy doing crosswords but want something a bit different, give this one a try. You might find that as well as helping you develop your spelling and vocabulary, it’s a great way to develop your lateral thinking as you puzzle out the clues.
This game is another one where you have to find hidden, scrambled words within a grid. There are loads of different levels (1180!) and so this could keep you busy for a long time. You can purchase hints – this could potentially see you clocking up quite a spend, though.
All the words are appropriate for children (though some are tricky to spell), so your kids might well enjoy this game too, as a way to develop their spelling and vocabulary.
Ruzzle works like Boggle, with a 4×4 grid of letters that you use to make words (the letters must be adjacent to one another). You can play it against friends, or simply against random players.
Like the other apps we’ve looked at, it’s a good one for developing your vocabulary and spelling. Some players said it included too many ads, so this is something to be aware of if you plan to use the free version rather than upgrading.
This is a word search type game with loads of different levels to play. If you enjoy word searches, it’s a great way to carry lots around in your pocket! You can play it alone or with Facebook friends. It’s easy to get to grips with, but the levels get increasingly tricky, so you’re unlikely to get bored quickly.
As with other apps, this is a great one for developing your spelling and vocabulary. Each level has a particular description (words should match with this), so you have to avoid any “decoy” words that don’t match.
#9: 7 Little Words
This game works a bit like a crossword: each puzzle has seven clues, seven mystery words, and 20 tiles that include groups of letters. You need to solve the clues and rearrange the letter types so you can create the answers to the mystery words – so it’s also a bit like an anagram.
There are five different difficulty levels (“easy” to “impossible”) and each game is quick to play, so this could be a good one for kids too. Again, it’s a great way to develop vocabulary and spelling.
#10: Words With Friends
This classic word-building game is hugely popular, and you can play against your Facebook or Twitter friends, or against a random opponent. It works just like Scrabble, where you have seven letter tiles and add them to a board.
You can chat with the opponent in a chat window, so do be aware of this if you’re allowing your kids to play. The game is a great way to develop vocabulary and spelling, and you can play it fairly casually because there’s no time limit on your moves.
10 Word Games You Can Play in Your Browser
What if you want a writing-related game you can play while taking a break at your computer? All of these are games that you can play in your browser: some involve a lot of writing and are essentially story-telling apps, whereas others are essentially digital versions of traditional pen and paper games.
Unless otherwise noted, these games are free. With some free browser games, you’ll see a lot of ads. If this annoys you, or if you’re concerned that the ads may be unsuitable for your children, you may want to opt for premium games instead.
This is a digital version of Hangman, which we covered above. You choose a category for words (e.g. “Countries” or “Fruits And Vegetables”) and then you play it just like regular Hangman.
It’s simple enough for children – but it only takes six wrong guesses for your cowboy to be hanged, too, so it could get frustrating for younger children.
#2: Word Wipe
In Word Wipe, you swipe adjacent tiles (including diagonals) to create words, a bit like in Boggle. The tiles fall down a 10×10 grid (moving into the blank spaces you’ve created when your word disappears from the grid) – your aim is to clear whole rows of the grid.
Since the easiest words to create are short, simple ones, this is a great game for children or for adults who want to get better at spelling.
As you might expect, this is a crossword game! There’s a different free puzzle each day, and you can choose from puzzles from the past couple of weeks. It looks very much like a traditional crossword, and you simply click on a clue then type in your answer.
The clues are straightforward rather than cryptic, though probably not easy enough to make this a good app for children or for English learners. If you’re a fan of crosswords, this will definitely be a great way to develop your vocabulary, though.
Twine is a bit different from some of the other games we’ve looked at: it’s a tool for telling interactive stories (a bit like the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, or a text-based adventure game). You lay out your story as different cards and create connections between them.
If you want to experiment with interactive fiction, this is a simple, code-free to get started – as reviewer Kitty Horrorshow puts it, “if you can type words and occasionally put brackets around some of those words, you can make a Twine game”. It’s a great way to deepen your understanding of story, plot and narrative.
Like Twine, Storium is designed to help you tell stories … but these stories are written in collaboration with others. (There’s a great review, with screenshots, here on GeekMom.) You can either join a story as a character within it, or you can narrate a story – so this is a great game for building lots of different big-picture fiction-writing skills.
It’s suitable for teens, but probably involves a bit too much writing for younger children. If you’d like to write fiction but the idea of creating a whole novel on your own seems a bit overwhelming, or if you enjoy roleplaying-type games (like Dungeons and Dragons), then you might just love Storium.
#6: Words for Evil
This game combines a fantasy RPG setting (where you fight monsters, get loot, gain levels and so on), with word games to play along the way. It could be a good way to encourage a reluctant young teen writer to have fun playing with words – or you might simply enjoy playing it yourself.
The word games work in a very similar way to Word Wipe, so if you found that game frustrating, then Words for Evil probably isn’t for you!
This game is an interactive story, told in the form of letters (epistolary). It comes at writing from a much more literary angle than many of the other games, and if you’ve studied English literature or creative writing, or if you teach writing, then you might find it particularly interesting.
The graphics are gorgeous – playing the game is like turning the pages of a book. To play First Draft of the Revolution, you make choices about how to rewrite the main character (Juliette’s) draft letters – helping you gain insight into the process of drafting and redrafting, as well as affecting the ongoing story.
Writing Challenge can be used alone or with friends, creating a collaborative story by racing against the clock. You can use it as an app on your phone, as well as on your computer, so you can add to your stories at any time.
If you struggle to stay motivated when you’re writing, then Writing Challenge could be a great way to gamify your writing life – and potentially to create collaborative works of fiction.
#9: Plot Generator
Plot Generator works a bit like Mad Libs: you select a particular type of story (e.g. short story, movie script, fairytale) then enter a bunch of words as prompted. The website creates the finished piece for you. There are also options for story ideas (essentially writing prompts), character generators, and much more on the site.
If you’re stuck for an idea, or just want to play around a bit, Plot Generator could be a lot of fun. Some of the options, like Fairy Tale, are great to use with young children – others may not be so suitable, so do vet the different options first.
#10: The Novelist ($9.99)
The Novelist follows the life of Dan Kaplan, a struggling novelist who’s also trying to be a good husband and father. You can make choices about what Dan should do to reach his goals in different areas of his life – and the decisions you make affect what happens next in the game. You are a “ghost” in the house, learning about and influencing the characters.
While there’s not any actual writing involved in the game, it could be a thought-provoking way to explore how writing fits into your own life.
10 Games to Help You Learn to Type
Typing might seem like an odd thing to include on a list of writing games. But so much of writing involves being able to type – and if you’re a slow typist, you’ll find that your fingers can’t keep up with your brain! While most people find that their typing does naturally improve with practice, these games are all quick ways for you (or your kids) to get that practice in a fun way.
Obviously, all of these games should help to improve typing skills: those which involve whole words may also help with spelling and vocabulary. Unless otherwise mentioned, they’re free.
#1: Dance Mat Typing
This game is designed to teach children touch type (type without looking at the keyboard). It starts off with Level 1, teaching you the “home row” (middle row) keys on the keyboard. Other letters are gradually added in as the game progresses.
It’s very much aimed at kids, so teens and adults may find the animated talking goat a bit annoying or patronising! Unlike many other free games, though, it doesn’t include ads.
#2: Spider Typer
This typing game took a while to load for me: you too many find it’s a bit slow. In the game, you type the letters that appear on chameleons that are trying to catch a spider (the chameleons disappear when you hit their letter). The spider keeps rising up into a tree, and if it safely gets there, you move on to the next level.
It’s suitable for kids, and starts off very easy with just letters: if you set it to a harder difficulty, you need to type whole words.
This is a competitive typing game where you race a car against friends (or total strangers) by typing the text at the bottom of the screen. It’s a good one for practicing typing whole sentences, including punctuation – not just typing letters or words.
Older children might enjoy it, and any adults with a strong competitive streak! You can compete as a “guest racer”, or you can create an account and login so you can level up and gain rewards like a better car.
TypeRacer is similar to NitroType: you control a racing car and the faster you type, the faster your car moves. You can practice on your own, enter a typing race, or race against your friends if you prefer.
If you create an account and login, other users can see your username, score, average speed and so on – and they can also send you messages. This could potentially open you up to receiving spam or unwanted communications, so do be aware of this, particularly if you’re allowing your child to play.
In this game, you destroy ghosts by typing the word on them. The graphics are pretty rudimentary, though it is a free game and a good way to practice quickly typing words. It’s suitable for children, and the sound effects (there’s a noise for every letterstroke) may appeal to kids.
You don’t need to create an account or login: you can simply start playing straight away.
#6: Typing Chef
In this game, you type cooking-related words (usually types of equipment). It involves single words and a few double words with a space between at the early levels.
There’s nothing particularly unusual about this game compared with others, though it wasn’t so ad-heavy as some and doesn’t require any registration. It’s good for teaching words and phrases, but not for helping you to learn to type whole sentences.
This is a fun typing game aimed at young kids, so it starts with the fundamentals. You start by building a keyboard from letter blocks, then learn how to spot letters on the keyboard quickly before learning where those letters are located.
Teachers or parents might be interested in reading about why the game starts with mapping the keyboard. The interface and graphics are pretty good, given that it’s a free game, and it’s designed specifically with young children in mind.
This is a free typing game, where you’re a diver exploring the seas. You can choose from different difficulty levels, and – in a mechanic that’s probably by now quite familiar if you’ve played any of the other typing games – you get rid of creatures like sharks by typing the word written on them.
Again, this can help you with your typing speed and accuracy. I found it was a bit slow to load, but it’s not full of ads like some other games.
#9: Typing Attack
In this game, you’re a spaceship, facing enemy spaceships – each with a word written on them. I expect you can guess what you need to do: type the word correctly to destroy the spaceship. Some words are shorter, some longer, and as with other games, there are multiple difficulty settings.
You’ll need to watch an ad before the game loads, which can be annoying, and means that it isn’t necessarily suitable for children.
#10: The Typing of the Dead: Overkill ($14.99)
This game is definitely aimed at adults rather than kids, because it’s a bit gory. It also costs $14.99, so it’s probably one that’ll suit you best if you’re really keen to improve your typing speed – perhaps you do transcription, for instance, or you’re a freelance writer.
To play the game, you type the words that appear in front of the enemies and monsters: each type you type a letter correctly, you send a bullet at them. If you like horror games and films, it could be a fun way to learn to type faster – but it won’t necessarily improve your accuracy with whole sentences.
10 Word Games that Are Particularly Suited to Kids
While I’ve tried to indicate above whether or not the games are suitable for kids, I wanted to list the ten that I’d particularly recommend if you want to help your children get a great start as budding writers.
Several of these are games I play with my five-year-old already; others are games I’m really looking forward to using with her and my son as they get older. I won’t repeat the full descriptions: just scroll back up if you want those.
#1: Word searches (pen and paper) – you can buy whole books of these, or print off free ones. Older kids might have fun creating their own for their friends or siblings.
#2: Bulls and Cows (pen and paper) – you can play this with just a pen and paper (or if you’ve got a really good memory, with nothing at all).
#3: Boggle (board game) – this is simple enough for quite young children to get the hang of it: my five-year-old enjoys playing it with her Granny.
#4: Story Cubes (dice game) – your child can use these on their own to come up with ideas for a story, or you could use them with a group of children – e.g. in a classroom or as part of a club.
#5: Amazing Tales (roleplaying) – this child-friendly RPG is a great way to introduce big-picture storytelling skills, particularly developing a character.
#6: Spellspire (phone app) – a fun spelling/word-creation game your child can play on your phone (and probably a bit more educational than yet another game of Angry Birds).
#7: Wild West Hangman (browser game) – if your child likes hangman but you don’t always have the time to play it with them, this is a good alternative.
#8: First Draft of the Revolution (browser game) – if your teen is interested in writing and/or the French revolution, they might really enjoy this intriguing game based around redrafting letters.
#9: Dance Mat Typing (typing game) – this game from the BBC is high-quality, and designed to appeal to young children. It teaches good typing practice from the start, by explaining correct finger placement on the keys.
#10: TypeTastic – this is another typing game aimed at young children, and this one starts with putting together a keyboard – a great place to begin.
Do you have any favourite writing games – of any type? Share them with us in the comments.