Language skills form the foundation of your child’s learning journey.

Proficiency in a language (especially English) will help your child to communicate better, express themselves more clearly, and learn faster.

And one of the best ways to boost their literacy skills is with fun games that also build closer bonds between parent and child.

These are 3 of our favourite “word games” for improving children’s language abilities.

Game 1: Spot the Hidden Words

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Setting up the game

  1. Write down words on a large board (leaving spaces between each of the words)
  2. Fill up the rest of the board with random letters

How to play

Ask your child to circle all the words they find – these can be the words you’ve specifically written, or words they happen to find among the random letters!

Customising the game

Adjust the level of challenge to match your child’s age and current language level. You can do so by making the words easier, placing less random letters around the board, using colours so the words stand out, etc.

Remember to praise your child when they successfully find a word, so they associate fun with the activity – and remember it as an awesome game they’re playing with their parents.

Learning points

This activity is great for developing your child’s focus, word recognition and spelling. By asking your child to also speak the words they’ve found, they get to practice the pronunciation of the words which reinforces their speaking skills.

And if your child is having trouble finding those last few words, remember that it’s ok to help them out with hints. (What’s really important is letting your child have fun, while building their vocabulary and linguistic abilities.)

Game 2: Mix and Match Words

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Setting up the game

  1. Think of sets of words that share similar letters. For example:
    • “Play”, “Day”, “Tray”, or
    • “King”, “Sing”, “Ring”
  2. Create “word mixers” using strips of card/paper
  3. Each “word mixer” should contain one set of “mix and match” words

How to play

Let your child mix and match the words by sliding the card up and down, forming new words each time they slide the card. Ask them to pronounce the word and explain what it is.

For more fun, you can also ask them to act out the word. For example, get your child to sing his or her favourite song!

Customising the game

Use simpler words when playing the game with younger children. If possible, try to use words that can be associated with actions, so you’ll have more possibilities when playing the game. For instance, it can be a little tough to act out “Day”, but “Play” is definitely doable (and more fun)!

Learning points

Mixing and matching letters to form new words is a novel concept for children, and can teach them to recognise – and pronounce – words. As an example, by recognising “ay”, they can learn to read and speak “say”, “day” and other combinations.

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Game 3: Dancing Alphabet Sticks

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Setting up the game

  1. Get 32 ice cream sticks (don’t worry about the calories, you can purchase these from art shops)
  2. Write a different alphabet (A to Z) on each stick
  3. On the remaining 6 sticks, write the word “Dance!” on each stick

How to play

Place your “alphabet sticks” into a bag, then take turns pulling out an alphabet stick from the bag. Each time you pull out an alphabet stick, look at the letter and say a word that starts with that letter. So, if you pick a stick with the letter “P”, you can say “Purple” or “Police”.

However, if someone pulls out a “Dance!” stick, that person must do a happy dance for 30 seconds!

After this, all the sticks are returned to the bag, and the game starts over. (Or you can end it after a certain number of “Dance!” sticks have been drawn).

Customising the game

Inject more fun into the game by making it an interactive experience with lots of acting! Let’s say your child draws “S” and says “Sun” – you can ask them to show you how they feel during a hot and sunny day.

For older children, you can make the game more interesting by throwing in additional challenges – for example, having them say a word that ends with the letter they’ve picked. You could even challenge them to think of a word that contains two of those letters!

Learning points

In addition to expanding your child’s vocabulary, this game also challenges your child’s spelling and creativity. What’s more, they’ll also learning to communicate better through the varied actions that are involved in this game.

Joy in Learning Matters

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At  NTUC First Campus My First Skool, we truly believe that joy in learning matters. It matters because when children have fun, their curious minds naturally become more receptive to learning, thinking and absorbing what’s around them. That’s why games like these – and the many fun, engaging games children play in our learning environments – are fantastic for building their language skills.

Give your child a head start in life by registering them at My First Skool!