Word games for teens for vocabulary building

A child’s vocabulary expands to one incredible rate. At 18 months, children know about 20 words. By the age of 12, they will understand approximately 50,000 words. It’s an incredible leap! However, vocabulary milestones seem to fall apart once kids grow into teens. A quick Google search shows vague answers for the average vocabulary of a teenager. It is always important to continue to support and improve your child’s vocabulary, regardless of their age. We’ve compiled a list of seven fun word games to help your teen keep building their vocabulary.

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Crazy Libs

This game may surprise you because it is often presented to the youngest, but it is actually a great reminder of the basic rules of grammar. You think you know the difference between an adjective and an adverb until you need to find one right away. Believe me, even I have a hard time with this, and I’m way past my teenage years. While we definitely don’t recommend using this cover letter, you can see how this pun can be adjusted to suit all ages.

This example can serve as a fun “what not to do” for your teenager when they start their job search. It’s also a relaxed way to introduce a topic that may seem like a chore. Start with the fun version of a Mad Lib cover letter, explain why you would never send it to a potential employer, and work together to write a professional one.


Boggle is the urgent, anxiety-provoking pun you didn’t know you needed. Looking through a jumble of letters to make words doesn’t sound too exciting, but add an hourglass and make it a contest, and off you go. This game is great to play with the family. Friendly competition encourages everyone to participate, and at the end everyone reveals the words they can find. Applaud your kids for some of their tricky finds and gently introduce them to new words as you show them words they may have missed.


The object of Scrabble is to make words from the letter tiles available to you, but you have time to think. Once you are able to make a word, you place your tiles on the Scrabble board. Each tile is worth a certain number of points, and the one with the most points at the end wins. However, it is not always enough to put together words to ensure victory; additional strategy is required in Scrabble if you really want to win. The use of these two and three letter scores can play an important role in the winner. This game teaches your child critical thinking while building their vocabulary.


Similar to Scrabble, Bananagrams involves matching letter tiles to form words, but without using a game board and with the added pressure of a delay. Players organize them into their own intersecting word grids. Unlike Scrabble, your grid can be rearranged at any time throughout the game. The goal is to be the first person to use all of their letters to complete their word grid. This game offers many vocabulary benefits for teens. The fast paced and ever-changing word grid to incorporate all tiles encourages your child to think quickly. They become more confident and familiar with their vocabulary by continually searching for the words they know to effectively use all of their tiles.

Word searches

Old but sweet, word searches can provide a relaxing outlet for your teenager while expanding their vocabulary. There is something soothing about walking through lines of letters, but your brain stays engaged all the time as it tries to identify familiar words. Word searches are great activities to wind down before bed or to keep your teen busy on a long road trip or flight. Word searches can be as complex or straightforward as you want, and many can be found in particular themes, so find one that will catch your child’s interest.

Splash around

In Dabble, players must choose 20 letter tiles, then attempt to create a word of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 letters. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, there is a five minute time limit for completing this task. The first person to use all their tiles to accomplish this objective wins the round and accumulates points for their opponents’ unused tiles. Your teen will need to work quickly during this game as he goes through his vocabulary to find words that match his tiles.

The added challenge is having to make words of a specific number. This will require them to rearrange their tiles, working on words of different difficulty until their task is complete. Having difficulty finding words of a particular length will also encourage them to expand their vocabulary in the hopes of winning the next rounds.


Tapple is a fast paced game where words need to be thought out on the spot. A player draws a subject card and then starts the timer. They have 10 seconds to find a word that matches the topic. Once this is done, the timer is restarted and the next player must find a word, but they cannot start with the same letter. As the letter options are reduced, the game becomes more difficult. If a player runs out of time without thinking of a word, he is eliminated for the round. Whoever remains at the end wins the subject card, and the person who ends the game with the most subject cards wins.

This is a fun twist on the typical word game where letters are used to form words. Tapple is a great way for your teen to explore their vocabulary and learn from others who find words for letters your child may have struggled with.

READ NEXT: 7 Board & Card Games To Play With Your Teenager

Sources: superduperinc.com, boardgamegeek.com/dabble, boardgamegeek.com/tapple

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