Learning Games For Middle School Students

Looking for something to do with your middle school kids? Want to do something that involves learning too (we won’t tell the kids, don’t worry). We’ve rounded up over 10 ELA word games for middle school kids that you can play as a family to reinforce learning and build vocab together.

Family words

Make a word up that originates with you!

  • Using letter blocks or letter refrigerator magnets, spell out the name of a family member.
  • Rearrange the letters to create a nickname for that family member. For example, Nicholas could be rearranged to spell Nachos, which is a pretty great nickname.
  • Come up with as many nicknames as you can. Who knows, maybe one will stick?

Make your own funny story

This game is all about seeing how synonyms work and how they can often make sense when one word is used in place of another. But, when words aren’t synonyms … that’s where the confusion and laughter begin! This game allows you to put your own twist on the classic Mad Libs™.

  • Pick any book off the shelf. This works especially well with stories your family is familiar with.
  • Begin to read the book aloud. You can start at the beginning or any random spot.
  • After reading a sentence or two, stop in the middle of the next sentence and state the part of speech of the next word. For example, “Four score and seven years ago, our – NOUN!”
  • Each player has to yell out a word to replace the typical one. The sillier the better.
  • Read the new sentence aloud with the replacement words. For example, “Four score and seven years ago, our cheeseburgers brought forth on this continent…”
  • Continue reading the story, replacing as many words as you like to make a classic tale sillier.

Roll of the dice

This game puts a twist on the typical charades. If you have more than three players, you can divide the players into teams.

  • Have each player write 2 to 3 words on individual scraps of paper or index cards. Put the words into a hat or other container.
  • At the start of each turn, the player picks a word and rolls a die (you can make one if need be). If the player rolls a:
    • 1, they have to give a definition of the word.
    • 2, they have to use the word in a sentence.
    • 3, they have to give an antonym of the word (a word that means the opposite).
    • 4, they have to give a synonym of the word (a word that means the same thing).
    • 5, they have to draw the word.
    • 6, they have to act out the word.
  • The other player(s) have to guess what the word is.
  • The player who guesses the word right first gets a point.
  • Hint: Check your answers on Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com!

Alternate rules: Roll of the dice

If you have more than three players, you can divide the players into teams.

  • Have each player write 2–3 nouns (subjects) and 2–3 verbs (predicates) on individual scraps of paper or index cards. Put the words into a hat or other container.
  • At the start of each turn, the player picks a word and rolls a die (you can make one if need be). If the player rolls a:
    • 1, they have to identify whether the word is a subject or predicate.
    • 2,  they have to identify whether the word is a subject or predicate, and use the word in a sentence.
    • 3,  they have to identify whether the word is a subject or predicate. Then they have to give an antonym of the word (a word that means the opposite).

Dictionary.com treasure hunt

We have a fun game all ready for you—with a great prize to boot!

  • Follow the link to the Dictionary.com Treasure Hunt.
  • Search the dictionary (that’s us) to find the answers to all 10 clues. Hint: All these words are related to each other in some way. Can you figure it out?
  • Show us your answers to all 10 clues and how all the words in the Treasure Hunt relate to each other by using the hashtag #DictionaryTreasureHunt or tagging @Dictionarycom on Twitter or Instagram to be entered into a random drawing to win a Dictionary.com shirt (they’re great).

Exquisite corpse

This is a classic party game said to be invented by Surrealists in the 1920s. It’s a great way to be creative and work together.

  • Decide what you’re going to write: a poem, a comedy, a romance? You can even use a writing prompt like one of the many available from Thesaurus.com.
  • Decide on a structure. If you are writing a poem, you may want every line to be: Adjective, Noun, Verb, Adjective, Noun. If you are writing a story, decide on the names of the characters.
  • On a piece of paper, the first player writes the first line or sentence of the story. Then, they fold over the paper so the other player can’t see.
  • The next player writes the next line, and folds over the paper or covers it with another piece of paper.
  • Continue passing the paper around the players until you reach the end of the paper or poem.
  • Open up your exquisite corpse and read aloud your creative work.

Secret agent

One player is the secret agent whose job is to give a message without revealing the code word.

  • Have the secret agent write two or three sentences that use a multiple-meaning word in different ways.
  • When the agent reads the sentences to the other players, they must replace the vocabulary word with the word blank. (For example: The scientists will find the chemical “blank.” A baby drinks “blankfrom a bottle.)
  • The other players guess the secret word, and the player with the correct answer becomes the next secret agent.

Say my name

If your family members had something named after them, what would it be? In this guessing game, use your knowledge of your family’s traits and interests to decide what their legacy will be.

  • Write down the name of each family member on a separate strip of paper. If your family is small, you can include the names of friends or other people you all know.
  • Place the names in a bag, bowl, or hat.
  • Each player chooses one name and says what that person would likely have named after them. (For example, perhaps your little brother is obsessed with dinosaurs. So, he would have a new dinosaur discovery named after him!)
  • The other players must guess the name of the person who will have that legacy!

20 questions

This is a variant on the classic game, but here, instead of an object, people guess a word.

  • One person thinks of a word and other players have 20 questions to guess what word it is. Use Dictionary.com to help come up with words.
  • Questions have to be yes or no questions.
  • Use knowledge about words to guide questions. Think about yes/no questions you can form around these areas:
    • What part of speech is it?
    • Is it a big word or an everyday word?
    • How many syllables is the word?
    • Does it have one main meaning or lots of meanings?
    • Spelling, pronunciation, and origin
  • When the round is over, look up the word and its meanings on Dictionary.com.

Wordie challenge

Create a trophy or award for this game to get your kid even more excited about winning the Wordie title!

  • Have each family member pick the most obscure word they can from the dictionary.
  • Next, have the other players try to guess the word’s meaning.
  • Those who get closest get a point.
  • The most points wins both the round and the title of family wordie.

Flip the script: Slang edition

Adults have to teach the teenager a slang term from their youth. The more eye-roll-inducing, the better.

  • Adults say or write an appropriate slang term from their youth. (Use these slideshows from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s for help!)
  • The teen has to guess what it means.
  • Give clues after initial guess by using the slang term in a sentence.
  • The teen then has to provide the modern-day equivalent to the slang term.
  • Adults and teens discuss: What do the slang terms have in common? Any qualities or characteristics, any topics or situations they got used in? What is different about the slang terms.
  • Then, adults and teens have to pretend that time-travel 50 years into the future. They have to imagine what the new slang term equivalent for the terms above will be. Discuss why you chose the word you did. What makes for a good slang term?

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

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