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Scrabble Junior is one of the best word board games for kids. It is a simplified version of the adult game of the same name. But instead of making kids form their own words, the Scrabble Junior board comes preloaded with words that kids match with the tiles they draw.
Here’s how it works: Kids fill their letter stashes with seven tiles. Each turn, they get the opportunity to place up to two tiles on the board. The tiles are placed on top of words like “queen” and “duck,” which are imprinted on the board. The catch is that the letters must be loaded in the order they are written; you can’t just place a matching letter wherever it fits on the word. Kids can place two letter tiles in a row, or place them on two different words, depending on what is available in their tile bank.
The winner is the player who scores the most chips.
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Kids learn how to independently create their own words and guess the words other players make in Probe. Usually played with three or four players, Probe features separate word racks and letter stacks for each player. Each player makes one word, up to 12 letters long, using the letter cards in their deck stack.
Player place each letter face-down on the word rack board. Then, each one takes a turn guessing a letter from any other player. If they get the letter right, they earn 5, 10 or 15 points, depending on which point was assigned to that letter on the word rack. They can keep guessing until they miss a letter.
Guessing the last letter of a word is quite profitable. You’ll get a 50-point bonus to add to your score if you do.
If you want to throw other players off on what your word is, feel free to add blank cards (provided in the card stack) to the beginning or end of your word.
To make the game more kid-friendly, keep words limited to six letters or less. Not only will it be easier for them to guess words, it will take less time to complete the game, and thus lead to less boredom.
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Apples to Apples
Kids and adults both enjoy Apples to Apples. This word game isn’t so much about spelling or grammar as it is about word comprehension as it relates to pop culture and history. This game is ideal for kids eight years of age or up.
Gameplay begins with each player possessing seven person, place or thing cards in their hands. The “judge” for that round draws a green trait card from the stack. The trait card lists a word and three adjectives. For example, “sassy” might list “fresh,” “saucy” and “feisty” as adjectives.
Players then produce two cards each from their hand that either relates to or is the opposite of the green card. You might get to choose from politicians, celebrities, events, historical figures, authors, poets, weather occurrences and foods.
It’s up to the judge to determine which card best matches – or opposes – the green card. The player with the winning card keeps the green card. Play rotates around the table. Once a player gets seven green cards, the game is over.
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Upwords is a close relative of the game Scrabble and is also one of the best word board games for kids and adults alike. But unlike Scrabble, where you merely build upon letters on the board, you can create your own words and keep stacking them up to several tiles high.
In Upwords, you can build a new word or place new letters onto existing words during each turn. You may place more than one tile on the board at a time to make the new word. But when the board gets full, or you find more uses for the existing letters, you can add tiles on top of existing tiles to create a new word.
Tiles are scored based on their lineup in the stack. Bottom tiles get two points each while stacked tiles receive one point each. You can also score additional points for using the “Qu” combination and for using up all of your playing tiles in one turn.
The trick to playing Upwords the proper way when stacking is to make sure that words stacked beneath another word line up properly beneath each other. For example, you might place “bed” first, then use the “e” to make the word “ego” beneath it. In order to use bottom letters in “ego,” you have to make sure that any letters connecting to each other form words as well. Thus, if you create a word under “d,” you also have to make sure any trailing letters don’t interfere with the “ego” letters. Some words might need more tiles to make sense, or might not be doable if side-by-side letters don’t match.
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My own playing experience
Product images from manufacturers