Word Games

Chinese Whispers

Non Elimination – 5-10 years – 

This is a popular old game that always has amusing results. One person thinks of a short statement and whispers it in the ear of another. This person then passes on the message as he or she heard it to another, and so on. The whisperer is not allowed to repeat the message more than once. The last person to receive the message tells what he or she heard, and this is compared to the original statement. The difference between the two is usually quite hilarious!


Non Elimination – 5-10 years – 

This is a competitive version of Chinese Whispers. The players divide into two equal teams, and each team sits in a circle. A leader is chosen for each team, and the organizer whispers a message in his or her ear. The message is then passed around the circle until it reaches the leader again. The organizer can then reveal what the original message was. The team that manages to keep the message closest to the original wins.

Initial Letters

Non Elimination – 8-10 years – 

The players sit in a circle and one person is chosen to be the question-master. Starting with any player he or she wishes, the question-master asks a simple question, such as, ‘What is your favorite drink?’ or ‘What item of clothing would you least like to have to wear?’ Each person in the circle then gives an answer depending on his or her initials. For example, Paula Letts might answer ‘pink lemonade’ to the first question and ‘purple leotard’ to the second. Any player who cannot think of an answer quickly is eliminated.

The answers that the players have to give under pressure are always amusing!

Last and First

Elimination – 5-10 years – 

The players sit in a circle and decide on a category to begin the game. Categories might be such things as animals, flowers or countries. The first player calls out a word in the chosen category. For example, if the category is animals, he or she might call out ‘dog’. The next player then has to take the last letter of that word and name another animal, for example, ‘goat’. The next player might say ‘tiger’, and so on. If a player cannot think of an animal quickly enough then he or she is eliminated. The winner is the last person eliminated.

I Went on a Journey

Elimination – 5-10 years – 

The players sit in a circle. The game begins with someone saying, ‘I went on a journey,’ and adding to the statement by choosing an item of clothing or some object that he or she might take along. For example, he or she might say, ‘I went on a journey and took with me my red hat’. The person sitting next then has to repeat the first statement and add something of his or her own, for example, ‘I went on a journey and took with me my red hat and my yellow umbrella.’ As the game progresses, a long list of items is built up that becomes harder and harder to remember. If a player cannot remember an item on the list as he or she attempts to repeat it then he or she is eliminated.

Name Game

Non Elimination – 3-10 years – 

For this game, everyone lines up in a straight line against one wall of the room. One person is chosen to stand in front of the line and be the leader. To begin the game the leader calls out a letter of the alphabet. If a player has the letter that is called in his or her name then he or she takes a step forward. If two of the letters are in the name then he or she takes two steps forward. The leader continues to call out letters until someone reaches the other wall. The first person to do this is the winner and takes the place of the leader.

Word Associations

Elimination – 3-10 years – 

This is a game that calls for quick thinking. One person starts by calling out a word, preferably a noun, and then pointing to another player at random. That player has quickly to think of a word associated with that word? usually the first thing that comes to mind. For example, the first word might be ‘carrot’, the second ‘rabbit’, the third ‘ears’, and so on. If a player cannot think of a word or hesitates then he or she is eliminated. The winner is the last person still in the game.

Number Associations

Elimination – 8-10 years – 

This game is played in much the same way as Associations except that one player calls out numbers between 1 and 12. The person pointed to when the number is called out then has quickly to think of something associated with that number. For example, if three is called out a reply could be ‘three little pigs’, if it is seven then the reply could be ‘days in the week’. An association should never be repeated.


Elimination – 5-10 years – 

Before this game begins, someone must decide upon a letter to be taboo. This person is also the questioner and must ask each player in turn a question, the answer to which must not be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or contain the taboo letter. The last person eliminated is the winner and becomes the next questioner.


Elimination – 8-10 years – 

For this game to be effective it must be played as quickly as possible. The players sit in a circle, and the first player calls out ‘one’, the second player calls out ‘two’, and so on. When it gets to five, or any multiple of five, instead of calling out the number, the player must say ‘buzz’. If the number contains a five but is not a multiple of five then only half the number is called out, for example, 52 becomes ‘buzz two’. If a player forgets to say ‘buzz’, or hesitates before calling out, then he or she is eliminated. The last player to stay in the game is the winner.

Another version of this game replaces ‘buzz’ with ‘fizz’, and five with seven. Combining the two games means that when either five or seven, or a multiple of either, comes up, ‘fizz’ or ‘buzz’ has to be called out. This makes a very lively game that calls for quick thinking.