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Having fun with wordplay

One of the best things about having children is that it gives your inner child a chance to play again. Wordplay is a huge area for fun whatever age your kids are at. Not only is it educational it also is a big enough topic to play to different strengths of quick mind, performance skills and playing the fool.

Words from a young age

Once young children start to get their tongues around language, a whole new world of fun can open up to them. From the beginnings, when they start to sound out their letters, they are combining learning with feeling and expression and this can lead to all sorts of wordplay hilarity that the whole family can join in that beats the old game of ‘I spy’ as a vocabulary extender!


Rhyming is a very popular activity with little ones and the sillier the better. It is found in poetry, songs and books and is simply grouping words that have a similar sound together. Try having rhyming meals together when the rule is you have to end your sentence in a rhyme such as can you pass the bread Fred? What did you have for lunch bunch? Playing like this gives permission to all your kids to try things out, experiment with different sounds and make up words which as well as fun is great brain development.

wordplayExamples of verbal nonsense that work for older children are wordplay like puns or oxymorons. These are really fun and develop creativity and thinking outside of the box. Puns are a play on words that usually causes the audience to groan. Often scraping the barrel to find a link they are examples of made up words that just suit the story or something else that has just been said. In a way, the point is to see who can get the loudest groan! Examples could include making up names of books and authors such as ‘A guide to going to the dentist’ by Phil Mcavity! Or don’t give up by Percy Vere!

Oxymorons are expressions that put together two contradictory words. The word itself is an oxymoron as Oxy means sharp and moron means dull! Examples are bittersweet and deafening silence. A simple game could be made where single words are put in a pot and whoever picks them out has to add another contradictory term to make it into an oxymoron.

Have fun

Tongue twisters are word games that can be adapted to the ages of the child. Again they can be written out and put in a pot and picked at random and then a timer of a minute can be set for the person to repeat them as fast and as accurately as possible. Examples include:

‘How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, If a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, And chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would a woodchuck could chuck wood!’

Or a shorter one is What noise annoys a noisy oyster? A noisy noise annoys a noisy oyster!

Back to front

A palindrome, apart from being a great word to know in itself, is a word that reads the same forwards as it does backwards for example the names Anna or Bob. If you want to be ambitious you could make up phrases such as Lid off a daffodil! See if your family can make up a story about themselves using palindromes!




About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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