Word Games For Two Or a Group

Word Games Are Fun Anywhere

This group of games is very adaptable, as there can be as few as two players, or as many as 5 or more. My mother and I used to play them all the time, usually while passing time waiting for the start of a play, or at an appointment.

Some are verbal, best played at home or in the confines of your car, so as not to disturb others. The escalating excitement and exclamations of verbal games can easily and inadvertently rise in volume.

These are all on the order of more "old fashioned" games, requiring only the use of the brain, and in some cases, pencil and paper. No batteries required or included.

Game One: "Think Fast!"

This game can be played repeatedly, but is the most fun when pulled as a surprise, with the other party not expecting it.

Simply say aloud a category of some physical thing, be it flowers, furniture, food, etc. (Gee, I got on a roll with the "F" words, there, didn't I?--Heh, heh--)

Once you have stated the category, immediately begin counting quite rapidly from one to ten; it should take you 5 seconds or less. The other person(s) have only until then to name such an item.

For example, I call out, "Flowers! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10!" If the other player is on their toes, they may make it by the time "5" is called to shout out the name of a flower, "Zinnia," for instance. I say "shout out," as, in the urgency presented, shouting is usually what happens. If they cannot think of something before the time runs out, they lose, and it is again the first player's turn to call out a category. However, if they beat the clock, it is their turn to call a category.

This is one of those games to play at home or in your car. You can play back and forth, of course, with the element of surprise missing, and eventually, someone cannot think of anything in time, or experiences a "fail," by calling out an item in the wrong category, such as "butter," when the category was flowers. Bzzzzzzttt!! Wrong! Thank you for playing!

This is a good 'thinking cap' game for kids, keeping it simple, and to things they'd know of course.

Game Two: "Same Letter"

My mother and I played this one a lot! It was probably our favorite 'while waiting' game.

Basic Game Play:

You begin with a category, as with the first game, but there are no time limits, unless you choose to impose one. With only two players, it's not really needed, but if playing with a group, and taking turns around a circle of players, it may be best to impose a time limit of say, 20 or 30 seconds in which to answer.

Categories can be anything you choose, with geography probably offering the widest possible choice of answers. You can pre-define the geographic area to local (your own state should be the smallest area used), national, or worldwide. You can further define whether you want to limit answers to just city names, or both cities and countries, and you may include features, such as mountain ranges or anything else that has been given a name.

You'd have access, in the latter case, to giving answers such as "Mount Rushmore," or "India," or "Lake Huron." Mom and I usually played a worldwide version, limited to cities and countries.

Specifics of Play:

Once the category has been established and defined to everyone's satisfaction, it's time to play. No repetition of prior answers is allowed. Player one starts by naming something in the given category; I'll use geography for my examples (mom and I also allowed old/archaic place names, but you don't have to):

"Belgium."

Player two responds with a different place, that must begin with the final letter of the previous answer.

"Madrid."

Play returns to player one in a two-person game, or continues to the next player if multiple people are playing.

"Denver."

And so forth...

The game ends when either player in a two-player game is stumped and cannot think of a fitting answer, gives a wrong-category answer, or one that is outside the predetermined rules, or repeats an answer that has already been stated.

In a multiple player game, the above mistakes result in that player being out of the game. The play continues until there is only a single player left, or until the final two or three mutually decide to call it quits.

This game can get quite funny, especially if you get stuck in a loop of words/places all beginning and ending with the same letter. You would not believe how many cities and countries fit into this pattern:

Algeria, Altoona, Atlanta, Alaska, Alabama, etc... there are many more, trust me. Usually, you don't even realize it until you've spoken your answer, thinking you were so smart to come up with something...and then the laughter begins.

The game can be tailored for school-age children, and is a great way to subtly help them remember how to spell things. Learning should be fun!

Game Three: "Remember What To Pack!"

This is an alphabet-sequence driven game of memory, and it suitable for just two players, but more fun if several are involved.

Begin by stating a travel destination, "France," for instance. Play begins with the first person stating, (for example), "I'm going on a trip to France, and I'm going to take an apple."

The next player must repeat the sequence, and add an item from the next letter in the alphabet: "I'm going on a trip to France, and I'm going to take an apple and a briefcase."

The third player (or first again, if only two people) proceeds in turn: "I'm going on a trip to France, and I'm going to take an apple, a briefcase and a camera."

As with the TV game of "Jeopardy," requiring the anser to take the form of a question, in this game, the player gets "buzzed" if they forget to repeat the "I'm going on a trip to...." sequence.

Play follows this pattern until the end of the alphabet is reached. The game ends for two people when someone goofs or gets stumped. For multiple players, a mistake removes that person from the game; "winner" is the last player to remain when/if "Z" is reached.

This game helps memory skills, and also reinforces the importance of focusing and paying attention. It can send people to the dictionary (not during the game--that's cheating!) to discover things to "pack" besides Zebras, Yaks and Xylophones when that end of the alphabet is reached.

Game Four: "How Many Words?"

This is a pencil and paper game, and one I use to this day while waiting on medical appointments. Anyone who has to spend much time in waiting rooms knows full well the futility of finding anything of interest to read in the outdated magazines sitting there. And, sadly, as we age, we seem to spend more time sitting in waiting rooms.

While I do have a Nook e-reader I got for a gift last year, I prefer not to have to lug it around and worry about a place to plug in and re-charge the battery if the wait is very long, or if I'm away overnight. So, I resort to my old standby pen-and-paper game.

All you need is a word. Any word, but the bigger the word, the better. The object is to use the letters within that word, (I call it a "seed word), and re-arrange them to form as many other words as you can. There is no "end" or time limit. Your time ends when you are called for your appointment, that's all.

The rules of play:

You may make any words you wish, with the one main restriction that you may not make any word using any letter more times than it appears in the original word. For example, if your seed word is "Punctuation," you cannot make the word "pop," because there is only a single letter "P" in the seed word. Likewise, you cannot make a word any letter of which does not appear in the seed word. In this example, then, "stop" could not be used, as there is no "s" in the seed word.

Words with few vowels, or single-occurrence-only letters are the most challenging.

It is up to you to decide the rules as far as limiting or not limiting number of letters that must be in the discovered words. I place no limits, although most traditional word games to require a minimum word length of three letters. This eliminates single-letter words such as "A" a or "I" as well as two-letter words such as "it" and "if."

I disagree with this set of rules, especially if kids are playing. You don't want them frustrated when the challenge is "find as many words as you can." Besides, by finding those easiest of words first, it gets the juices flowing, and instills an early feeling of success.

For school settings, I would place a time limit, say ten minutes--adjusting that up or down as appropriate for grade level. This is a good game for spelling, memory, vocabulary, and rapid spotting with the eyes, as you "scroll" back and forth looking for likely words.

For multiple players, you can have the "winner(s)" be those who came up with the most legitimate words, or players can read off their lists in turn, and all must cross out any word that matches any other person's word, so the focus is on originality.

Sometimes, I even play this in my head, if I'm having trouble falling asleep, instead of counting those boring old sheep! Here's one I used in that situation recently:

"Desultory."

No "a's" and no "i's" in that word, and only singletons of the other vowels; in fact, no repeating letters at all. I did get a pretty good list out of it despite that. Let me know how you do with it.

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Comments 11 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great ideas; a couple of them I have played, but a couple I have never heard of. I'll keep these in mind for the holiday parties that are sure to come.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, billybuc,

Wow--you're johnny-on-the-spot (or, billy-on-the-spot!) with being first commenter! Thanks so much. I'm glad I found a couple of new games for you to try; I hope you have fun with them.


GiblinGirl profile image

GiblinGirl 4 years ago from New Jersey

I LOVE word games - I play Scrabble all the time. I'll have to try some of your suggestions out next time I'm waiting around at a doctor's office or something. Thanks!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

What great ideas for word games, Lizzy, thanks for reminding me what fun they can be. You are anything but Dzy, m'dear.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@ GiblinGirl, Thanks for stopping by--I'm delighted that you enjoyed these suggestions of time-killing yet mentally stimulating games. Have fun with them!

@ drbj, Hello there, and, gee, aw shucks...how come I feel dizzy then? ;-) It must be information overload--yeah, that's it! I'm pleased to have reminded you of some old-fashioned fun that doesn't require any electricity. Thanks much for your comment. Enjoy!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Great ideas especially the games you can play alone. These ideas will come in handy. Thanks for sharing.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, MsDora,

I'm happy you enjoyed the game suggestions, and will find them useful. Thanks very much for commenting. Best wishes to you.


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 3 years ago from Minnesota

These are great! Would be wonderful as easy youth group games while we're waiting!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, Pinkchic18,

Thank you so much--I'm most pleased that you find these worthwhile games for a youth group. I do think they need a "disconnect" from electronic devices every now and then!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I too like word games and remember playing How many Words. They are sure great to pass the time especially on long car rides.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, Susan,

Yes, we often played such games on car rides, including "not quite word games" such as 20 questions.

I don't think I'm familiar with "How Many Words?" I'd be interested to hear about that one...or perhaps I know it by another name.

Thanks for stopping by and adding a point of interest. Cheers!

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