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Play these family word games at your next family game night

If your family hasn’t made game night a thing yet, it’s time to start. Any time of the year is perfect for a weekly family game night, but the fall really is ideal. It turns out playing games as a family isn’t just fun. Family game nights can actually help kids improve their grades. That’s because playing games slip in important academic skills like vocabulary, comprehension, reading, basic math, and problem-solving, all while rolling the dice and moving around the board. Family word games are especially helpful because they target key language arts skills.

A research study from Carnegie Mellon University showed playing board games with kids on a regular basis translates into better academic performance. Word games work to strengthen a child’s vocabulary, language, writing, and reading skills. Of course, word puzzle games for kids are just plain fun, but the added benefit, in addition to some family bonding time, is increased academic proficiency. So what are the best family word puzzle games for kid to put on the family game night menu?

Family having fun playing word game together
Olesia Bilkei / Shutterstock


Is LOL a word? This classic game is excellent for word-building skills and arguments on what constitutes an actual word. Scrabble is a great game for family game night. It’s geared for ages 8 and up. If you have younger kiddos, try Scrabble Jr. or divide the family up into teams so little ones have an adult to help them make words to fit onto the board.


Another tried-and-true word game for family game night is Boggle. The premise is simple. Shake up the letters, flip the timer, and try to make as many words with four or more letters before time runs out. The game is for age 8 plus, but make teams so younger kids can play too. Try Classic Boggle or Big Boggle. Either is an entertaining and fast-paced word game.


A top choice for family game night or parties is Scattergories. This word game invites players to come up with as many words as possible to fit into a category. The trick, though, is that the words must begin with the letter rolled on the dice. Oh, and there’s a time limit, too. So, the game isn’t as easy as it sounds and is an appealing family word game pick for tweens and teens.


This award-winning game is the ultimate word game for crossword-puzzle-loving families. The premise of Bananagrams is to build a crossword puzzle grid before the other players do. Since spelling is paramount in Bananagrams, it’s a wonderful word game to play with kids to help hone their spelling skills. Bananagrams is for ages 7 and up.


Another family word game perfect for growing spelling and vocabulary skills is Dabble. Players have to beat the clock and each other to make five words from 20 letter tiles. Dabble is for ages 8 and up, but younger kids can be included by dividing the family into teams.


If you’ve ever been stuck in Scrabble and wished you could change the words already on the board, Upwords is for you. The game works just like the classic word game Scrabble except players can build up placing letters over the tiles already on the board to make new words. More points are earned the higher the letters are stacked. This word-hacking game is for ages 8 and up.

It’s in the Bag Jr.

This silly family word game is a combination of charades and Pictionary that also works the vocabulary skills. It’s in the Bag Jr. is the little kid version of the original It’s in the Bag. If you’ve got younger kids, play the junior version. It’s for ages 5 plus. Tweens and teens will love the original It’s in the Bag.

Taboo Kids Vs. Parents

Taboo is a popular word game for teens and adults. Players must give clues to a word without using forbidden words. Taboo is a super fun word game for teens and up, but little kids can get in on the silliness with Taboo Kids Vs. Parents. This game has two decks, one for the kiddos and one for the grownup. It’s quick-moving like the original version, but with not as many forbidden words. Taboo Kids Vs. Parents is for ages 8 plus, but you can always include little ones by pairing them with an adult or older sibling.

boy playing Scrabble
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Other family word games

The key to keeping family game night fresh is changing up the game. Here are a few more family word games to add to the game night menu.

Playing Word with Friends on the smartphone can be fun, but nothing beats an actual board game like the ones you used to play when you were a kid. Unlike smartphones and devices, board games are hands-on and teach kids many things beyond turn-taking. Family game nights have so many social-emotional benefits, but also improve academic proficiency. Adding word games to family game night strengthens spelling, vocabulary, reading, and writing skills. Schedules are busy, especially during the school year, but it’s important to set aside a night just for games. Keep game night fresh by adding these engaging family word games to the menu. If your family has mixed ages, include the younger kids by making teams. Game night is an all-around winner for the entire family.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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