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English games for the classroom and home

English games for the classroom and home

English games for the classroom and home

Learning through play is fun at any age, and a great way to keep students engaged! Whether your young learners have been working hard and deserve a treat, or they’re drifting off after a long day, English games can spark their attention and excitement, bring context to what they’ve been learning and help them memorise and practise vocabulary, spelling and more.

We’ve compiled some games suitable for your lower and upper primary children (aged 5–12) to enjoy, whether in the classroom or at home. They’re bound to have lots of fun—and so will you!

Chain spelling

This fun activity brings spelling to life and can be tailored for all ages.

Number of players: minimum of two—ideally six or more 

Materials: a board and chalk

How to play (upper primary):

  1. Write any word on the board.
  2. The first student takes the last three or four letters of that word to form a new word.
  3. The next student repeats the process, with the chain continuing until a student is unable to form a word or misspells a word; that student is then out of the game.
  4. The winner is the last player remaining.


  • Make the game more challenging by restricting players to a particular theme or topic.
  • Make the game suitable for lower primary students by using only the last one or two letters of a word to form a new word.
  • For an on-the-go version of this game, spell the words out loud—perfect to keep the kids entertained during car trips.

Group storytelling

Similar to chain spelling, this game is great for all ages, and is usually played on a board (but can be adapted for car trips, too—just tell the story out loud!). It’s a fun writing prompt activity that’s always fun, and often hilarious.

Number of players: minimum of two—ideally six or more

Materials: a board and chalk

How to play:

  1. Write a sentence on the board (e.g. ‘It was a dark and stormy night’).
  2. The first student writes another sentence on the board to continue the story, the next student repeats the process and so on.
  3. There’s no winner or loser in this game—just be creative and have fun!


Dictionary deception

This game is a fun break from structured learning, and a great way to expand vocabulary. It’s perfect for the classroom when the kids are starting to wilt, or to play at home with friends!

Numbers of players: minimum of four—the more, the merrier! 

Materials: a pad and some pens

How to play:

  1. Choose a word that the children are unlikely to know the meaning of and write it on the board. Next, write its definition on a sheet of paper from a small pad.
  2. Hand each child a sheet from the pad, on which they will write their name and guess the definition of the word.
  3. Re-read the definitions one by one, including your own. The children will consider the definition, and vote for which one they think is right.
  4. Children who guess the correct answer get a point, and they also earn a point each time someone votes for their (fake) definition as the correct answer.
  5. The child with the most points at the end wins.


You can easily adapt the classic board game Scattergories® to the classroom or home! This game is perfect as a spelling activity and for building vocabulary.

Number of players: minimum of two—four or more is ideal 

Materials: a board and chalk, some paper and pens

How to play:

  1. Choose a category (such as ‘food’, ‘places’ or ‘things you’ll find at the park’) and choose a letter. Write the category and letter on the board.
  2. Children list as many words as they can think of in that category that start with that letter.
  3. Every unique word scores a point; whoever has the most points at the end wins!


  • The more people in the game, the harder it is to come up with unique words, so depending on group size you can offer half a point for words that aren’t unique, or drop the unique word rule entirely.
  • For younger children, make the game easier by letting them list words beginning with any letter.


This perennial missing-letter classroom classic spelling activity is just as much fun now as it was when you were a kid! Hangman is great for spelling and vocabulary, and its competitive, high-stakes nature is great for perking up tired young learners.

Number of players: at least two

Materials: a board and chalk, or pens and paper

How to play (upper primary):

  1. Put students into groups of two or three; one will think of a word and prepare a sheet of paper with a row of dashes representing each letter of this word. Generally, proper nouns such as names and places are not allowed.
  2. The guessing player(s) takes turns guessing letters, and when they guess correctly, the letter is filled in above a dash; when they guess incorrectly, the main player marks an element of a hanged man stick figure.
  3. The guessing player(s) can guess the whole word at any time, winning the game; if they do not guess the word before a certain number of guesses (usually eight), they lose that round.


  • For younger students, the teacher can pick a word and make the marks in chalk on the board, and the children take turns guessing.
  • Because of the stick figure representing a hanged man, some parents and teachers prefer to use other symbols for this game; for example, drawing an apple tree with eight apples and crossing them off as the children make incorrect guesses.

Logic grid puzzles 

Great for critical thinking and reading comprehension alike, logic puzzles are a fun cross-curricular activity that children love! You’ll find great examples for all ages in our Higher-order thinking skills series, and we’ve included some freebies below to get you started. 

In each puzzle, players are given a category and an equal number of options in a grid, and use logic to eliminate impossible options until coming to a conclusion. 

Younger students can work in groups to solve puzzles or with a parent for guidance, while older children will have a ball working these out all on their own. 

Number of players: depending on their age, one or several 

Materials: logic grid puzzles (check out our freebie below to get you started!) 

How to play: 

  1. Read the story accompanying the logic grid puzzle. 
  2. Every item on the grid will intersect with every other item on the grid once only. 
  3. Use the clues to tick what items are already known to be correct with certainty and eliminate options that become impossible once these items are known. 
  4. Arrive at your solution, based on logical deduction. 

Word sleuths

Word sleuths are a fun, easy activity for improving your students’ spelling, vocabulary and literacy. Check out our free spelling activity pack for spelling games for lower, middle and upper primary students, including word sleuths targeted at the relevant year levels.

These word games consist of the letters of a word placed in a grid and obscured by other letters; players find and mark all the target words hidden in the grid.

Number of players: one per sheet of paper—multiple copies so that students can have a go 

Materials: word sleuth puzzles (on paper) and pencils

How to play:

  1. Read the legend indicating the words to find.
  2. Get circling!


We hope these games have given you some ideas for putting the fun back in English fundamentals. Don’t forget to check out our entertaining, educational logic grid puzzles below!


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