December 20, 2019

Becky Hill

Fun Games to Practice English Skills

Topics: Learning Through Play

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English is the foundation of an American education. Reading, vocabulary, and spelling skills are essential to other subjects.

In math, reading and understanding word problems are the key components when solving for the answer. In history, reading comprehension and writing skills are important because answers are often written to questions asked. Papers are also assigned.  In science, reading and word skills are essential, especially when following directions for lab work. In English class, reading and comprehension skills, along with vocabulary skills, are instrumental when reading novels, especially some of the high school novels such as The Scarlet Letter, Wuthering Heights, and Romeo and Juliet. 

English is covered through curriculum but if a student struggles, games can make English more enjoyable, relaxing, and fun. Many games can be utilized, including games found at thrift stores. Games not found at thrift stores are worth the purchase because play time enhances educational skills.

As a homeschooler, I really emphasized the English skills. Each year we covered spelling, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and reading comprehension. English skills are important for school success, the work force, and/or a college education. The goal is to equip students for life with communication skills that will benefit them. Writing sentences, vocabulary, spelling, and reading comprehension are key components to all areas of life. Practicing these skills through games can enable students to enjoy themselves along the way!


Pickles to Penguins

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Pickles to Penguins is a word association game. There are 800 picture cards. Each player is dealt 25 cards. If younger and older players are playing together, the number of cards can be fewer for the younger ones to make the game play less frustrating. The players turn over 5 cards from their deck. These cards form a player’s hand. Place a huge draw pile in the middle and turn over 2 cards. As soon as a signal is given, each player races to get rid of their cards beginning with the 5 cards that have been turned over. As players play one of their 5 cards, more cards can be turned over and added to the player’s hand. Cards are placed on top of the cards in the center based on word associations. For example,  a picture of a colander can be placed on top of a bottle opener because both items are used in the kitchen. A picture of a garden tap can be placed on top of a sprinkler because both items are a conduit for water.

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Using complete sentences as associations are made enhances the educational value of this game. This game is so much fun, especially with a group of people. The sky is the limit for word associations. Each group can make their own rules concerning allowable word associations. If two items are round, square, or triangular, an association can be made. If an item is found inside of another item, an association can be made. This game becomes loud, hilarious, and fast, as players rush to get rid of their cards first. The first player to play all their 25 cards, wins. This game is well worth a full price buy!



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Quiddler is another game that is extremely valuable as vocabulary and spelling skills are practiced. This game is made by the same company that produces Five Crowns and Set. All three games are worth the purchase price (Set is an excellent math game as patterns are examined, Five Crowns is more of a fun game but never underestimate the value of social skills learned through playing games).

For each round, a different number of cards are dealt. For the first round, 3 cards are dealt. For the second round, 4 cards are dealt. For the third round, 5 cards are dealt. The game continues for 10 rounds. On a player’s turn, a card is drawn and discarded. The goal is to form words of 3 letters or more. Each player draws and discards until one player lays down a complete word or words, depending on how many cards are in hand. At the beginning of the game, only one word can be played because the rules state a word has to be at least 3 letters. As the game progresses with more cards being dealt, 2 or 3 words can be played. Once a player lays down, all the other players have one turn left. The directions are easy to follow, and scoring is explained in the rules. When we play this game, we allow dictionary usage because new words, along with correct spellings, are learned from dictionaries. This game is fun and entertaining. The educational value is high. All ages can play together with older players helping the younger ones.


Educating a child is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Reading books together will form bonds for life. There are so many adventures to be experienced together through literature. Playing games that practice English skills adds to a child’s ability to be able to manipulate the English language. Being able to manipulate the English language enables a child to succeed in all areas of life, including the work force and/or college.


Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 8.29.51 AMBecky Hill lives in Green River, Wyoming, with her husband of 29 years. She has 3 grown children and 2 grand dogs. Becky earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ouachita Baptist University, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1990.  She earned a Biblical Studies Certificate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in Deerfield, Illinois, in 1993. Becky began homeschooling two of her children unexpectedly 13 years ago. Despite many challenges along the way, Becky creatively enabled both of her children to succeed. While her homeschooling adventures are over, she loves tutoring children and helping them to conquer subjects with no fear. Her specialty is mathematics. One of her favorite hobbies is creatively incorporating games into tutoring. The goal, she believes, is no tears, no fear, and a competent, confident, and happy child.  She has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page called “The Happy Math Nerd.”


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