In our family, screen time is a bit like sugar. You see, we are certainly not sugar free but I am conscious of how many sugary treats our children eat and I make every effort to make good dietary choices for their health. The same applies to screen time. I see it as my role as a parent to help my children learn to manage their screen time – both how much they have, and how they use it. I do believe that some screen time, as a part of a balanced routine that includes plenty of opportunities for other forms of play and learning, is fine.
When it comes to selecting screen-based activities, I am a big fan of choosing ones that are educational as well as fun. With devices, that means games and apps that encourage children to actually think, or that involve children in revising skills that they are also learning off-screen. I also like being involved in what my children are playing, as I believe it is through interaction that children, especially young children, benefit most from screen-based learning. Unfortunately, our children can easily become fixated on screen technology, which greatly limits their interaction, unless we make a conscious effort to be routinely and actively involved.
The following list of word games and activities can be played on any tablet. Some will require an Internet connection.
9 Digital Word Games for School Aged Kids
There are a number of good, old fashioned word games that work just as well on the tablet as they do with pen and paper, and I love that they include that interactive element of playing with or against each other – something that screen based learning often does not actively promote. These first few can be played in a notes or word processing app.
1. Hangman: A great game for revising spelling words, if you don’t remember the how-to of Hangman from your own childhood, here is a refresher from Wikipedia. (Grades 2-6)
2. Spelling Word Tic Tac Toe: This is another one we use for spelling revision. Each player chooses a word and instead of using a X or a 0, they write their word in their chosen square on the game board. Just like the regular version, three words in a row is a win! (Grades K-3)
3. Word Chains: Choose a word of 3 or more letters and write it onto a piece of paper. The last two letters of this word become the first two letters of the next word. For example,
almost – strike – key – eye – yellow
Score two points for each letter used (no score for the first word). What is the longest word chain you can make? Is it also the most valuable?
4. Word Ladders: Start with a three letter word and change one letter at a time to make a new word. Words cannot be repeated. For example;
How many rungs can you add to your word ladder?
Online Word Games
5. Wordshake: Similar to Boggle, players have three minutes to make as many words as they can using the sixteen letters in the grid. (Grades 2+)
6. Letterblocks: Create as many words as you can by connecting the letter blocks. The longer the word, the more points you score. (Grades 2+)
7. Construct-A-Word: Children must find all the words for a given word family, adding single or two letter word beginnings to two or three letter word endings. (Grades K-2)
8. Crossword Puzzles: While this game includes some crossword puzzles for children to solve, I think it is the crossword generator that really gets kids thinking. Challenge them to create a crossword from words representing a favourite book, movie or interest. (Grades 2+)
9. Merriam-Webster Dictionary Word Games and Quizzes: A collection of challenging quizzes and word games for older students. (Grades 4+)
There’s no denying that including screen-based learning games is a great way to motivate children to learn…mostly, without them even realising it! What are your favourite digital word games for school aged kids?