In case you haven’t heard, according to Taylor Swift, spelling is fun! But if Taylor’s word isn’t enough to convince you, we’ve come up with a list of ways that playing spelling games can actually improve your spelling, including examples of 10 spelling games that are excellent options for kids, adults, or anyone who wants to improve their spelling skills! (Don’t worry: the possibilities for spelling games go way beyond Scrabble.)
Check out our list of 10 fun and challenging spelling games that you can play on your own or with friends to build your spelling skills and vocabulary. In this article, we’ll explain why spelling games are an effective way to improve your skills quickly, and we’ll also help you pick out the best spelling games to help you meet your goals.
Let’s get started!
Top 4 Ways Games Can Improve Your Spelling
Did you know that the spelling game Words With Friends is one of the most popular mobile games of all time? That’s probably because friendly competition, gamification, and skill-building can be a really fun combo!
In addition to being fun, gamifying spelling can provide you with some other benefits too. Here are four ways spelling games can improve your spelling, provide cognitive benefits, and increase your vocabulary!
#1: Learning Can Come More Naturally When Combined With Games
Researchers have found that incorporating games (like spelling games) into formal classrooms can boost student learning. Specifically, teachers who have used spelling games for kids in their classrooms reported improved test scores, heightened engagement from their students, and better attention spans. But the benefits of games don’t end with childhood—adolescents and adults can reap many of the same benefits from incorporating play and games into their life, too.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook the need for play and learning in our lives. Spelling word games are a popular and easily accessible way for adults to relax and enjoy learning, and you might even make friends with your fellow game players in the process.
#2: Games Provide Practice
What many people really need in order to improve at something they’re trying to master is practice. But sitting down with a piece of paper and writing a word over and over again is boring! Likewise, being in a classroom can be intimidating, too.
Spelling word games—especially spelling games for kids—provide a fun environment to practice spelling...without the stress of a classroom environment.
Formal environments where you have to perform a skill in front of other people—like school or work—can create anxiety around developing that skill. Practicing spelling in a game format allows you to try, fail, and try again without worrying about the consequences. And when people play games, they tend to try over and over again even after “failing” because they’re having fun!
The kind of recurring practice and willingness to try again that spelling games promote can help anyone improve their spelling skills at any age.
#3: They’re Great For ESL Learners and People With Dyslexia
We mentioned how high-stakes environments like school or work can make spelling scary for some people. After all, no one wants to feel silly if they make a mistake! This can be especially true for people who are trying to learn a new language or who have dyslexia.
Spelling games can be especially helpful for people in these situations. Research has shown that making spelling, reading, writing, listening, and speaking into a game can help English Language Learners and people with dyslexia learn to remember things faster and better and develop greater fluency. Connecting people who are learning a new language or who experience dyslexia with effective spelling word games can help them with their language learning.
#4: Spelling Games Can Help With Other Important Skills
Games give people the opportunity to learn how to spell words over an extended period of time, and they help cultivate an understanding of how the words are formed. Plus, research shows that learning to spell and learning to read and write rely on much of the same underlying knowledge.
Many adults describe themselves as both poor readers and poor writers, and recent studies have shown that the time Americans spend reading is at an all-time low. But guess what has seen an increase over the past two decades? The amount of time that Americans spend on playing mobile games. Spelling games provide a great opportunity to dust off those reading and writing-related skills while also enjoying yourself. It’s an added bonus that exercising the reading and writing skills you already possess through game playing can help you grow and expand those existing skills in new ways as well.
Top 4 Spelling Games for Kids
Now that you know how word/spelling games can benefit people from all walks of life, let’s look at our list of top spelling games. First up: the best spelling games for kids!
If you’re searching for one resource for spelling games online that provides access to a variety of spelling, vocabulary, and reading games designed for kids by education and child development experts, look no further than PBS Kids Online. PBS Kids’ website conveniently categorizes the many educational games they provide based on different content areas. There are also games for children ranging from the pre-reading stage to age 8.
Younger kids may also appreciate the fact that many of PBS Kids’ spelling, vocabulary, and reading games feature characters they might already know and love from their favorite TV shows, like Big Bird, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and the little heroes of Super Why! The familiarity of these popular TV characters can serve as a big incentive for younger kids to engage with educational games.
Though there are tons of educational games on the site, one of our favorite PBS Kids word/spelling games available for free online is Super Why Saves the Day. This game introduces a familiar story, like a fairy tale, and asks players to help rewrite the story using words they spell in the game. Players select letters as they appear on the screen to spell out 3-5 letter words, then choose from the pool of words they’ve spelled to rewrite different parts of the story. Super Why Saves the Day helps kids with both spelling and reading comprehension.
Ideal For: Kids ages 3-8
If you’re a parent or teacher, helping kids succeed in school-based reading and writing is probably important to you. Spelling City games can be a great source of support!
Spelling City is a website and app that gamifies literacy learning to help children and youth grow and improve their vocabulary, spelling, phonics, and writing skills. The activities and games provided by Spelling City mimic the forms of learning and assessment that are used for literacy learning in U.S. schools. Using Spelling City can help students develop confidence and familiarity with the ways their literacy skills will be assessed in school through fun, engaging games.
There are two different versions of Spelling City currently available: a free version and a paid annual subscription, called the Family Annual Membership. With the free version, you can access spelling games online or through the app. The Family Annual Membership provides more capabilities: in addition to over 40 spelling games, the membership gives you word study playlists, automatically graded spelling and vocabulary tests, and tracks student data and progress. Plus, the membership version is ad-free.
Ideal For: Students aged K-12; families who homeschool; parents seeking extra learning support for their children; teachers seeking to gamify literacy learning; English Language Learners
Where to Find/Buy: Online at the Vocabulary Spelling City website, or download the VocabularySpellingCity app for iOS or Android.
If you’re trying to cut down on screen time, Wordplay for Kids is a great board game option for building kids’ spelling, vocabulary, word building, and concentration skills.
Here’s how the game works: players use a “letter spinner” to acquire certain letters that they then use to form a word before time runs out. The longer the word that they form, the more points they receive. The words must fall into six special categories: “Food and Drink,” “Object or Thing,” “Living Creature,” “Something in the House,” “Boy’s or Girl’s Name,” and “Any Word.”
Another benefit of Wordplay for Kids is that the game can be played as an individual or with a group of 2-6 other players. The inclusive nature of this game gives kids an opportunity to practice spelling with others, which can take the anxiety out of the process. Plus, every player participates in every round, which keeps the excitement and momentum up for young players who want to stay in the middle of the action.
Perhaps best of all, Wordplay for Kids is a Teachers’ Choice Award winner, so you know its potential to help kids find success in school-based spelling activities is strong. One word of caution, though: This board game does come with small pieces that could be a choking hazard, so be sure to keep out-of-reach of youngsters who are still in the “taste-everything-you-touch” phase.
Ideal For: Children ages 6+
Where to Find/Buy: Purchase the board game online through Amazon
Montessori Crosswords is an app that comes highly recommended for children with dyslexia. Using the Montessori learning method, Montessori Crosswords uses a phonics-enabled moving alphabet to allow kids to build words from a set of 320 word, image, audio, and phonics combinations.
The learning methods used by Montessori Crosswords help kids understand that words are made up of sounds, or phonemes. It also helps kids memorize the phonics associated with letters. The app accomplishes these two things by allowing kids to engage with the letters and phonics in the crosswords through sound, touch, and sight.
As we mentioned earlier, making learning feel like playing can decrease many young learners’ anxiety about spelling. Additionally, this app tackles spelling from a unique learning perspective, so it makes spelling accessible to kids who have had difficult experiences with literacy learning.
Ideal For: Any child, and especially children with dyslexia
Where to Find/Buy: App store for iOS devices only
Top 3 Spelling Games for Adults
Now that we’ve looked at spelling games designed specifically for kids, let’s check out some top spelling games for adults.
WordBattle is a real-time, multiplayer online word game designed to help you practice word building in friendly competition with friends, family, or fellow Facebook users. Here’s how the game works: each player is given the same 9 random letters and attempts to create a word using them in 40 seconds. Here’s the catch: each letter is assigned a different point value. Your goal is to come up with the word with the greatest point value because whoever has the most points wins!
Since WordBattle can be played through a social media site, there is also opportunity for community discussion about the game. Sometimes there are even debates about the legitimacy of words that are played. Especially enthusiastic players might even bust out the dictionary! Overall, WordBattle is simply meant to be a fun way to stretch your brain and improve your agility at word play...and you might just make a few new friends in the process.
Ideal For: Any Facebook user who’s down for some competition!
Where to Find/Buy: The WordBattle Facebook page, or download the app for iOS or Android.
A classic in the world of spelling puzzle games, the New York Times crossword has been an icon of American culture since the 1940s. It first appeared in the Sunday paper, then was upgraded to a daily feature in the 1950s.
The New York Times crossword puzzle gets increasingly difficult throughout the week, with the easiest puzzle appearing on Monday and the most difficult on Saturday. Knowing how the difficulty increases throughout the week can help you pick the puzzle that’s right for you. And even better: you don’t have to carry a newspaper around with you to play! The New York Times crossword is now available in an app for your phone or tablet.
If you want to participate in a beloved national tradition and test your spelling and vocabulary skills, the New York Times crossword is a guaranteed winner.
Ideal For: Adults looking for new, challenging spelling word games
Where to Find/Buy: The New York Times online; iOS, Google Play, and Amazon Fire app stores
If you’re interested in face-to-face, interactive spelling word games, consider looking into Letter Tycoon. This board game is an example of a solid approach to integrating a familiar, popular theme with spelling skills. Letter Tycoon asks its 2-5 players to engage in commodity speculation, hand management, and set collection to create the most valuable empire and become the “letter tycoon.” It’s kind of like Monopoly-meets-Scrabble!
Here’s how the game works: players take turns forming a word using a seven-card hand and a three-card community pool, then score money and earn stock rewards based on the word they play. Players may use the money they’ve earned to buy one letter “patent” in the word they make. For the rest of the game, when other players use a letter you “own,” you receive “royalties” from the bank. Patents, money, and stocks are added up at the end of the game to determine the winner!
If you’re looking for a fun, sophisticated spelling game that you can bring to game night, Letter Tycoon is a great option.
Ideal For: Adults (and people who like economy-based games like Settlers of Catan)
Top 3 Spelling Games for Anyone!
But games are always more fun if you can play it with your whole family, no matter how old they are. That’s why we’ve compiled our favorite all-ages spelling games, too.
Bananagrams is like Scrabble’s hip younger brother. It uses a similar concept in that the first player to use all of the letter tiles they’ve drawn to create a word grid is the winner. But Bananagrams ups the drama by making it a race against the other players. Bananagrams also comes in a cute, compact, banana-shaped cloth bag that’s about the size of a pencil case, making it easy to stuff into a backpack or purse and take anywhere. It also requires no pens, pencils, or papers to play!
The Classic Bananagrams is great for people of all ages. Children as young as seven can play, and adults of any age can have fun playing, too. But Bananagrams also makes a version of the game called My First Bananagrams, designed for children as young as four who are still in the pre-reading stage.
And, get this: if you’re trying to work on your spelling in a language other than English, you can buy Bananagrams in other languages! Available options include: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
Whatever your age or native language, Bananagrams is designed to make you more comfortable with letters and words and helps you improve your spelling.
Ideal For: People of all ages and various language backgrounds
Where to Find/Buy: Amazon, in-store or online at Target, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, or at local toy stores
Boggle is a word/spelling game that’s been around for a while, but it remains popular among people of all ages.
Big Boggle is a variation on the classic game, and here’s how it works: players attempt to find as many connected words as possible from face-up letters in a 25-cube grid. But, the players are also on the clock! When time is up, players compare their lists of words, then eliminate any words they have in common. Players then receive points based on the number of letters in their remaining words.
Adding the time element helps you practice your spelling under pressure, and it gives you the confidence to take spelling risks you might not normally take. (After all, you’re trying to earn precious points!)
Ideal For: Anyone, but recommend ages 8+
Where to Find/Buy: eBay, Amazon, or in-store and online at Walmart
You’ve probably heard of Words With Friends, a longtime fixture in online and multiplayer word/spelling games. In Words With Friends, players take turns building words in a crossword puzzle format. (If that sounds familiar, you’re right: Words With Friends riffs on the classic Scrabble concept.) If you’re a pretty active game player and enjoy multitasking, Words With Friends allows you to participate in up to 30 games at one time!
Players can also connect with people they know to play Words With Friends, or be randomly assigned opponents through “Smart Match.” Like many other apps that can be played through social media networks, Words With Friends also provides a built-in chat feature that allows players to send messages to each other while playing the game.
Ideal For: Anyone, but recommended ages 8+
Do educational games sound like something right up your alley? Then make sure you check out our other posts on educational learning games!
If you’re trying to improve your spelling, you might be interested in working on your reading comprehension, too. Here’s our complete guide to improving your reading comprehension skills.
One reason you might want to improve your spelling skills and vocabulary is to prepare you for the reading portion of the SAT or ACT. (It’s a great plan!) Learn more about the reading portions of the SAT and the ACT exams to make sure you’re prepared.
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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.