Are you homeschooling a teen or a tween? Are you looking for some stealthy ways to up your homeschool game? Today, I am sharing some of our favorite entertaining language arts games for middle schoolers.
Right now, my children are 14.5, 13, and 11 years old. I have two in middle school and one in high school. I used games for learning when I worked as a school psychologist and also during our 8+ years of homeschooling.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
50 Entertaining Language Arts Games For Middle Schoolers
When you’ve finished reading, let me know if I’ve missed your family’s favorite! I love hearing from you!
The Value Of Learning Through Games
Play is hugely important when it comes to child development. Research has demonstrated that play has a positive impact on all areas of child development. That means play is beneficial for your child’s social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development.
And you may be sitting there thinking, “Well, sure, Cait. I know this. But we’re talking about middle schoolers here!” I’ll answer this in just a second, but I want to emphasize that play is beneficial for all of us. The research has shown that play is good for little kids, but also for us “big kids;” you don’t outgrow play.
Yes, I am giving you an excuse to make space for play, too! Maybe you already make space for play. You might be in an adult soccer league, in a cooking club with friends, or maybe you have a dedicated game night/date night with your partner. That is wonderful! Keep it up!
Or, perhaps it’s been a while. You can’t remember the last time you made space for something fun. Maybe life is so full and hectic that you don’t even know what is fun for you anymore. You’re not alone. I hear from parents all the time who have lost touch with that inner child. If this is you, I would encourage you to think back to your childhood. What made your eyes sparkle at 8, 10, or 12 years old? Maybe you were a tree climber. Find a local climbing gym! Maybe you loved writing and words and books. Try a storytelling game!
It’s important to remember that there are different play personalities. What is play for one person may not be enjoyable for another. If you’re having trouble, check out our free What’s Your Play Personality quiz!
I digress. I have BIG feelings when it comes to play, my friends! Let’s get back to your question…
Are Middle Schoolers Too Old For Play-Based Learning?
I am a school psychologist-turned-unexpected homeschool mom to three kiddos. My children are currently 14.5, 13, and 11 years old. This is our 9th year of homeschooling (although the oldest two are trying public school this year) and we’ve been incorporating play-based learning and gameschooling since the very beginning.
The truth is, I’m a gamer. I’ve been playing games since ’84 and I never really stopped. When I was a teen, I was a babysitter and later a nanny. I played countless games with the kiddos I cared for. I was also a tutor. Guess what? Games helped! Later, I worked as a pre-K through 12th-grade school psychologist in an urban district. I relied heavily on games and play.
Because play isn’t just fun. It helps us to connect. Whether I was playing Chutes and Ladders with a little one, UNO with elementary school kiddos, or shooting hoops with a tween or teen, play was my go-to when I wanted to connect with a student. There is something magical about being engaged in an enjoyable activity that requires minimal eye contact and keeps your hands busy.
As I mentioned, research shows that play has a positive impact on all aspects of child development. And it also suggests that we don’t outgrow play.
I would argue that it is just as important for our tweens and teens. Play and games are essential in the middle school years, as they help us to connect with our children and make memories.
50 Entertaining Language Arts Games For Middle Schoolers
As promised, here are some of our favorite games for homeschooling language arts during the middle school years. They are listed in random order. When you’re finished reading, leave me a comment and let me know your family’s favorite games for the middle school years. I love hearing from you!
Blurt! is a hilarious word-themed party game for 3-12 players. In this game, a definition is read aloud. The first player to blurt out the word advances. Blurt! is a great way to practice word retrieval, build vocabulary, and have fun!
2. Apples to Apples Freestyle
Apples to Apples Freestyle is a fun twist on traditional Apples to Apples, a wordplay party game for 3-10 players. Apples to Apples Freestyle plays similarly to the original, but it is for 4-6 players. The fun twist is that players are given a blank card and dry-erase marker and they can use it to submit their unique reply.
3. Last Letter
Last Letter is a hilarious card game for 2-6 players that combines “seek and find” fun with a word game. In this game, players are dealt illustrated cards. They race to find something on one of their cards that begins with the last letter of the last card played (before anyone else). This word race is fun and so much more challenging than you would think! The first player to get rid of all of their cards is the winner.
Balderdash is a ridiculously funny bluffing word game for 2-6 players. To play, players take turns being the “Balderdasher.” The Balderdasher rolls to select the category. Next, they read the card out loud to the other players. Players write down what they think the word means, meanwhile the Balderdasher writes the actual answer. The Balderdasher then reads all answers aloud. Players vote on the most believable (or hilarious) answer.
5. Word on the Street
Word on the Street is a word game for 2-10 players; the game can be played on teams or individually. On each turn, the player/team is presented with a category and they have 30 seconds to think of an answer. Then, they move the letters in the word to their side of the game board. When a player or team moves a letter entirely off of the board, they claim it as their own. The first to gain 8 letter tiles is the winning team or player.
6. News @11
News at 11 is a storytelling game for 3-6 players. In this game, players are news anchors. The game is played over three rounds (morning news, afternoon news, and evening news). Players take turns creating news stories using the information provided and then must integrate that information into future newscasts. The game incorporates storytelling, creativity, and quick thinking.
7. Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time is a storytelling card game for 2-6 players. In this game, players work together to create a fairytale based on their cards. To play, one player starts the game as the storyteller. The storyteller wants to use all of the cards in their hand and have the story in the secret ending card they have been dealt. Other players can use cards in their hands to interrupt the story and take over as the storyteller. The first player to play all of their cards, and their unique ending card, is the winner. Once Upon a Time has several expansion packs for those who love the game.
8. Poetry for Neanderthals
Poetry for Neanderthals is a hilarious party game for 2-12 players. In Poetry for Neanderthals, players race to guess words based on the clues provided. There is a communication limit, though. Players must provide one-syllable clues. If a player makes a mistake and uses more than one syllable, they get bopped with an inflatable club and lose points.
9. Pun Intended
Pun Intended is a word-play party game for 4-12 players. Pun Intended is played in teams. Each team has 60 seconds to solve six puns that begin with the same letter. Points are scored for each correct pun and the first team to reach thirty points is the winning team.
Listography is a list-building game for 2-6 players. In this game, players are given a prompt and a set of rules and the goal is to create the best list. On some occasions, players want items on their list to match those of another player; on other occasions, players want their answers to be unique.
11. In A Pickle
In A Pickle is a word-themed card game for 2-6 players. In A Pickle has 320 cards and each card has a noun on it. In this game, players create sets of 4 noun cards. A player wins the set of cards by playing the “largest” word. To play, the first player puts a card down. Let’s say the card has the word ant on it. The next player would have to play a card that an ant could fit in. Let’s say they placed a card with the word cup on it. The next player would need to play a larger word card. Perhaps they play the word mall. To win the set, the fourth player would need to play a card larger than the mall. The player with the most sets at the end of the game is the winner.
Scattegories is a classic game of words and categories for 2-6 players. Scattergories is played over three rounds. Players race to come up with words that fit a certain category and begin with a certain letter. Players score points if their answers are different from the other players’ answers.
Quidder is a word-themed card game for 1-8 players. The object of Quiddler is to use all the cards in your hand to make one or more words. The number of cards dealt increases each round (from 3 cards in round one to 10 cards in the final round). The player with the most points wins.
Werewords is an easy-to-learn, quick-to-play word-themed party game for 2-20 players from the makers of the One Night Ultimate Werewolf series. It is a word-themed version of the series. To play, players try to guess a word by asking yes or no questions and if the magic word is guessed before time is up, they win. The catch is that there is a secret werewolf among the group and the werewolf knows the magic word and is working against you!
Taboo is a word-themed party game for 4-10 players. This fast-paced game is played in teams. The goal is to get your teammates to say a certain word or phrase by providing clues. The trick is that there are certain “taboo” words that you are not allowed to use in your clues. The team with the most points wins the game.
Wordplay is an easy-to-learn and fast-paced word game for two players. To play, one player spins the spinner to select two letters and a category for the round. Players The first letter is the letter the word must start with. The second letter must be contained within the word. So, if the category is places and your letters are S and P, you could say words such as Spain, Sevastopol, Spokane, etc.
Paperback is a card game for 2-5 players that is a word-building and deck-building mashup. Players must use their hands to create words and buy more powerful letters. Many letters have abilities that are activated when used in a word. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
18. A Little Wordy
A Little Wordy is a 2-player word game from the makers of Exploding Kittens and Throw Throw Burrito. In this game, each player is given a pile of letters that they rearrange until they select a word. Each player writes down their word and keeps it hidden from their opponent. Then, players use clue cards to try to guess their opponent’s words.
19. Rory’s Story Cubes
Rory’s Store Cubes are just what their name implies: story cubes. These versatile little story cubes can be used as an ice breaker in a group activity, as a one-player game, or as a group game. There are several versions if you want to play with a group, but the way we typically play is to roll all nine dice and then tell a story based on the images rolled. They are portable and can fit in your purse for a game on the go!
Pathwords is a one-player game that is a word search puzzle. Using increasingly difficult challenge cards, the player must use the colored geometric pieces to highlight words so that, in the end, they solve the puzzle with no pieces remaining.
Boggle is the classic timed word search game for 1-8 players. Shake the letter cubes, place the board on the table, flip the 3-minute timer and go! Players rush to find and record as many words as possible, gaining points as they go. There are oodles of variations of this game to keep you busy.
Bananagrams is a word game for 1-8 players. The game includes 144 letter tiles. In this game, players race to create their very own crossword-style puzzles. It is easy to learn and portable and it packs an educational punch.
Wordical is a word-themed card and dice game for 2-8 players. If you love Scrabble, you’ll likely appreciate this one. In this card game, players are dealt consonant cards. Then, they roll the vowel dice and race to create the word with the highest point value.
Decrypto is a game of deciphering codes for 3-8 players. Decrypto is played in teams (each team has 2-4 players). In this game, teammates attempt to transmit secret codes to each other without letting the other team intercept the messages. To do so, teammates must communicate clearly with their teammates but in such a way that they confuse their opponents. The gameplay of this word game involves communication skills, deduction, and bluffing.
25. Mad Libs The Game
Mad Libs The Game always causes giggles in our home. This word game is recommended for 3-8 players. The game is easy to set up and explain, and fun to play.
Scrabble is popular the world over and is fun for all ages. This letter tile game for 2-4 players is such a classic! Players take turns creating a crossword puzzle. Letters have different point values and the board also has special spaces. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
27. Word A Round
Word A Round is a fast and fun word-searching game for two or more players. This game has several play variations. The goal is to find a hidden word on each card. There are three rings per card and there is a hidden word in each ring.
28. Tall Tales
Tall Tales is a storytelling game of infinite possibilities for two or more players. There are many ways to play this game. In the past, we have used the game to create verbal stories. We have also used the game pieces as writing prompts. The neat thing about this game is that it has 50 3D game pieces, plus 24 story cards. All can be stored in the bag that is included. When my kids were younger, we would the game pieces in the bag to waiting rooms and restaurants.
29. Super Sleuth
Super Sleuth is a card game for 2-4 players. The game is focused on building vocabulary. In this detective-style game, your kids will practice synonyms, antonyms, and homophones. The goal is to earn enough badges to be declared a super sleuth.
30. Table Topics
Table Topics is a fantastic game and is available in several different editions. I think of it as Beginner Dinner Game’s big brother. Whereas Beginner Dinner Games can be goofy, Table Topics is a bit more serious. Featuring over 100 conversation starters, Table Topics will lead your family down rabbit holes as you build memories together and work on conversational skills!
Pictionary is a classic “win, lose, or draw” drawing game for 3-6 players. As your tweens and teens play, they will be working with language (and practicing those fine motor skills necessary for writing assignments).
Anomia is a word game/card game for 3-6 players. The goal of Anomia is to win as many cards as possible by facing off against other players. To play the game, players flip cards until the symbols on the two players’ cards match. The two players who matched symbols race to give an example of the category on their opponent’s card. This fast-paced game requires quick thinking!
33. You’ve Been Sentenced
You’ve Been Sentenced is a game of sentence construction. Unlike many games listed herein, You’ve Been Sentenced goes beyond making words. In this game, players try to create the highest-scoring grammatical sentence.
Wordsmithery is a vocabulary-building word game for 2-99 players. To play, one player draws a word and reads it to their opponent. The opponent tries to guess the meaning of the word from three available options. The first player to ten points is the winner.
Dabble is a word game for 2-4 players. In this game, each player selects 20 letter tiles and tries to create a 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-letter word within five minutes. There are some variations available in terms of play, but whatever way you choose, this is a great stealth spelling game.
36. Double Ditto
Double Ditto is a party game for 4-99 players with a writing component. Players take turns being the Ditto Master. The Ditto Master reads a card aloud to each player and then all other players have 15 seconds to write down two answers that come to mind. The object of the game is to write down answers that you think other people will write down. If you match an answer with another player, it’s a ditto. If you match two answers, it’s a double ditto.
Turnspell is a word-building game for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to score the most 4-letter words. In this game, there is a central game board and then each player has an individual game board. To play, each player selects a tile from the four tiles on the central board and places it on their game board.
38. Miss Bernard is A Wild Card
Miss Bernard is A Wild Card is a word game for 2-4 players. This game is based on the My Weird School book series and during the game, kids get to create silly sentences. This game has more than 570,000 combinations. The goal of the game is to be the first to get two cards on your board to rhyme.
39. Crazy Letters
Crazy Letters is a fast-paced word-themed card game for 2-8 players. In this game, each card has a word on it but the size, color, shape, orientation, and font of the individual letters are varied. This makes each word hard to decode. The goal of the game is to be the player who deciphers the most words.
40. Bring Your Own Book
Bring Your Own Book is a party game for 3-8 players and you get to use your own book during the game! In this game, players draw a category card, grab a book, and then skim the pages to find a phrase that meets the prompt on the card. The responses can be hilarious!
Dixit is a storytelling card game for 3-6 players. During the game, players take turns as storytellers. The storyteller selects a card from their hand and gives a clue. The other players choose a card from their hand that best fits with the clue provided. The cards are mixed, along with the storyteller’s card, and then players vote on which card was the storyteller’s card.
Rewordable is a word game for 2-8 players. The object of this game is to create the largest lexicon of words by the end of the game using the 120 cards, each featuring 1-, 2-, and 3-letter sequences. Players can build their own words and add to their opponents’ words, which gives them more points.
43. Play On Words
Play On Words is a word game for 2-4 players. In this card game, players create words from 8-card stacks. Players create words and add on to already played words (their own or their opponents’).
Quicktionary is a word game for 2-99 players. In this game, players play the game at the same time. Play involves three decks of cards (yellow, blue, and red). To play, players flip over the top card of each deck, and then all players race to come up with a word that meets the criteria of all three cards.
Tapple is a fast-paced word-themed card/party game for 2-10 players. In this game, players race against the clock as they come up with words to fit various categories within 10 seconds. To score, a player must think of a word and tap the letter on the board before the 10-second timer has elapsed.
46. What Do You Meme?
What Do You Meme? is a hilarious party game for 3-2o players during which players compete against each other to craft the most hilarious memes using 300 caption cards and 64 photo cards. This game will have you in stitches!
47. Blank Slate
Blank Slate is a word game for 3-8 players. This party game is great for all ages; it is easy to learn and quick to play. The object of the game is to predict what everyone else is thinking. A prompt card is read and there is a fill-in-the-blank within the phrase on the card. Every player writes down a word that completes the phrase. The goal is to match with one person and only one person. That’s how you score the most points.
Upwords is a 3D word game for 2-4 players. It plays similarly to Scrabble, but the letter tiles are stackable, so you can (and should!) change words as you play. Scoring is based on the number of tiles in the word, rather than individual letter points (like in Scrabble).
49. Word Spin
Word Spin is a travel-sized word game for 1-8 players. Word Spin fits in your hand. It has 8 magnetic wheels with 10 letters on each wheel. These wheels can be flipped and rearranged in any order. This is one of those games that can fit in your glovebox and provide tons of entertainment for people of all ages.
50. Word Slam
Word Slam is a party word game for 3-99 players. This game is played over 12 rounds. In this game, two teams compete against each other to guess the chosen word, name, or term as noted on the prompt card. Each team has a storyteller to help. The storyteller uses story cards to help nudge the team in the right direction.
And that’s a wrap! I could keep going, but I think it’s time to move on. Before I go, I’d like to share some of the online games that my teens and tweens adore.
Online Language Arts Games for Middle Schoolers
When we talk about gameschooling, let’s not forget about video and online games. Here are a few of my kids’ favorite online language arts games:
I hope you have enjoyed this post and that it helps you to play oodles of fantastic word games with your tweens and teens. Just remember: play is just as important for our teens as it is for our littles! (And it’s important for you, too!)
More Gameschooling Resources For Middle School Learning
If you’re looking for additional recommendations and resources for homeschooling through the middle school years, I’ve got you covered!
Never Board Learning is an online community for creative parents and educators who embrace play-based learning and gameschooling. NBL features a monthly Play Book, filled with actionable, print-and-play resources, in addition to live Q and As, Guest Speakers, and Day-in-the-Life Family Spotlight Events. But the very best part of NBL is the community forum (not Facebook). It is simply the best place on the interwebs! Learn more at NeverBoardLearning.com!
Are you a homeschooling parent with an outside-the-box kiddo (or two)? Have you heard of gameschooling? Gamescho0ling is homeschooling, but with lots of play-based learning and board games. This course will help you learn how to use play and games to fuel learning and create a family culture of playfulness and joyful curiosity. Learn more about the course here!
Not ready to commit to a membership or course just yet? Don’t worry! We have a free 7-day Gameschool Kickstart that can help you begin to form a play-based learning and gameschool habit. Learn more and sign up here!