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The Dictionary Game


I love words and I want my kids to have a good vocabulary. So I play this game with them to make learning new words fun. All you need is a dictionary, paper, pen and some creativity.

First, I look through the dictionary for some silly sounding words and pick ones that:

A) Have simple definitions.

B) Most people don’t know the definition of.

This is a crucial part of the game! I’ll tell you why in a bit. If you’re pressed for time, here are some of the words I’ve used and what they mean:

Addax – A light-colored antelope.

Bugbear – An imaginary goblin.

Collop – A small slice of meat.

Dornick – A small chunk of rock.

Earwig – Insect with slender antennae.

Next, I have my kids write down the words I’ve chosen, leaving space next to each word. At this point, I don’t tell them what the words mean. Then, I have them write down what they think each word means. So far, they’ve never guessed correctly, but their definitions are priceless!

Once they’re done, I have them look up each word in the dictionary to see what the word really means. This helps them learn how to use a dictionary and to understand alphabetical order. Then they write the actual definitions of each word on their piece of paper. Hearing the words, looking them up in the dictionary, and then writing the definitions down helps commit the words to memory.

You can stop at this point, but we like to see if we can stump Daddy. So, I type up each word with the three definitions. The real one plus the two definitions my kids came up with. Then at dinner we see if Daddy can guess the real definition. He hasn’t been able to yet!

We get a good laugh at dinner and the kids feel smart. Mission accomplished.

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    On September 25th, 2007 at 11:22 am, Wendy Piersall said:

    LOVE it! I’ll have to do this with my kids - or you could even modify it to be just verbal and play it in the car.

    Although I must say I’m a little afraid of the definitions my kids would come up with. They are real snarky sometimes! ;)

    On September 25th, 2007 at 12:00 pm, Kymberlyn said:

    Great idea. I think I will start playing this game with my kids. You might already know this, but m-w.com offers a “word of the day” you can subscribe to. It helps me brush up on my vocab.

    On September 25th, 2007 at 1:25 pm, Erika Jurney, Plain Jane Mom said:

    Great suggestion! It is fun for you because you get to hear their goofball definitions, and it is fun and educational for the kids. I love win-win situations :)

    On October 13th, 2007 at 1:31 pm, Lora said:


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