Boosting vocabulary

Improve vocabulary with fun brain games

October 16, 2023
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As you go through life, there comes a point when you realize that the vocabulary flash cards you considered dreadful in grade school might be more important than you originally thought. 

It’s true: Having a rich vocabulary is essential in both academic and professional settings. It helps you communicate effectively, express your thoughts and ideas, and better understand others. However, building vocabulary skills can be a daunting task—especially if you're not sure where to start.  

The good news? Vocabulary games and exercises can make learning new words much more fun and enjoyable. So keep reading to understand how and why, and learn our favorite tools for getting started.

How fun brain games help you improve your vocabulary

Vocabulary building games are fun and interactive activities designed to improve your vocabulary skills by teaching you new words in a way that’s actually engaging. 

Here are a few of the benefits of vocabulary games:

  • They make learning enjoyable and help you retain new words more effectively since they're motivating and engaging. (Who doesn’t love a fun game?)
  • They are adaptable to different learning styles and skill levels, making them a great resource if you’re looking to build your vocabulary skills.
  • They reinforce spelling, pronunciation, and word usage, all while building your vocabulary library.

Vocabulary building games often come in the form of puzzles, quizzes, or word games that challenge you to apply new words in a variety of contexts. In contrast to traditional methods of vocabulary learning, vocabulary games offer a fresh take on learning that can increase your motivation and break up the monotony of traditional study methods.

Improving vocabulary takes more than just flashcards

Flash cards are a traditional method for learning new vocabulary words, but we’ll be the first to admit: They can be dull and monotonous. 

There are many other more fun exercises that can be just as effective, including the following:

  • Writing sentences using new words: This exercise helps reinforce the meaning and usage of new words by placing them in context. By writing—or typing—sentences that incorporate new words, you can practice using them in a variety of situations and recognizing the words written elsewhere.
  • Creating a story that incorporates several new words: Similarly, creating a story that incorporates several new words can help you remember those words more effectively. By associating the words with a narrative, you can create a mental picture that makes the words more memorable. To learn more about this method of memorization, read about mnemonics
  • Using new words in everyday conversations or writing: One effective way to learn new words is to use them in your everyday conversations or writing. This helps you practice applying the words in real-life situations and reinforces their meaning and usage.

So, what makes these exercises so effective? 

The science behind why these exercises are effective for learning is based on the principles of active recall and spaced repetition. Active recall involves actively retrieving information from memory, which has been shown to improve long-term retention. And spaced repetition involves spacing out learning over time, rather than cramming information all at once. 

Language games can also improve your vocabulary

Now that you know about the benefits of vocabulary and language games, let’s discuss a few that you can play, from classroom vocabulary games that help keep students engaged, to games you can play with small groups on a Friday night.

There are several language games that are effective for building vocabulary skills. Here are a few popular ones: 

  • Guess the Word: To play this vocabulary game, one person thinks of a word and gives hints while the others try to guess it in a certain amount of time. This game helps develop critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills, as players must use clues to infer the correct answer.
  • Throw the Ball: To play this vocabulary game, players take turns throwing a ball and saying a word that's related to the previous word listed, creating a chain of related words. This game helps players make connections between different words and expand their vocabulary in a more natural way.
  • Sticky Note: To play this vocabulary game, players write down vocabulary words on a sticky notes and then place them in various locations around the classroom or home. This game encourages learners to associate new words with their surroundings, making them more memorable.
  • Board Game: To play this vocabulary game, players move around a board while answering questions or solving puzzles related to vocabulary words, helping to reinforce word meanings and usage.

The best fun brain games for learning

Some light-hearted competition can also motivate you to boost your vocabulary. Grab your friends, then try these other word games that can help you learn new words while also have fun:

  • Scrabble: Scrabble is a popular word game that involves using letter tiles to create words on a board. The goal is to score points by creating high-scoring words and strategically placing tiles on the board. Scrabble helps you expand your vocabulary and improve your spelling skills, all while engaging in friendly competition.
  • Boggle: Boggle also involves creating words from letter tiles. But in this game, players shake a cube with lettered faces and then try to create as many words as possible from the letters shown. It’s a fast-paced game that helps you build your vocabulary and ability to think quickly under pressure.
  • Crossword puzzles: Crossword puzzles are a classic word game that involves filling in a grid with words that intersect at certain letters based on various clues. Crossword puzzles can be challenging, but they’re an effective way to expand your vocabulary while also improving problem-solving skills.
  • Word ladder: Word ladder is a word game where players try to turn one word into another by changing one letter at a time, with each intermediate step being a valid word. This game helps you develop your vocabulary and creative problem-solving skills.
  • Mad Libs: Mad Libs is a fun word game that involves filling in blank spaces in a pre-written story with different types of words, such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. This game helps you learn new vocabulary words by allowing them to see how different words can be used in a silly context.

How play has been known to enhance learning

At this point, you might be wondering: What is it about great vocabulary games that makes them so effective? Research has shown that learning through play improves mood and engagement, and it also has many other psychological advantages:

  • Boosts positive emotions: When you’re engaged in a fun and interactive activity, your brain releases dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. This positive emotional response can increase motivation and help us remember new information more effectively.
  • Reduces stress: Learning new vocabulary through play can also reduce stress and anxiety. When you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, your brain is more receptive to new information, making it easier to remember and retain new words.
  • Increases social connection: Playing games with others can also enhance social connection and accountability for learning. By engaging in word games with friends or family members, you motivate each other to improve vocabulary skills and provide encouragement along the way.
  • Engages active learning: Learning vocabulary through play is an active form of learning that engages multiple senses and cognitive processes. By actively engaging with new words through games, you can reinforce your understanding of their meanings and usage.

Use the Elevate app to improve vocabulary

Want to know our favorite way to learn vocabulary skills and have fun in the process? Enter: The Elevate app.

Elevate is a brain training app that includes a variety of engaging games and challenges designed to boost your cognitive abilities—including enhancing your vocabulary.

With several games designed to improve your vocabulary skills, Elevate helps you learn new words, practice using them, and increase your ability to communicate effectively. Plus, you’ll learn at your own pace, so you can build your confidence with new words as you strive to beat your high scores. 

What’s more? Elevate’s brain games aren’t, well, just fun and games. They deliver real results, with 90% of members reporting their vocabulary has improved. Pretty cool, right?

Start building your vocabulary today

So if you've decided that it’s time to ditch the flashcards and dictionaries and start building your vocabulary the fun way, go ahead and begin playing games with friends and download the award-winning Elevate app on iOS or Android

In no time, you’ll be able to impress everyone with your expanded vocabulary, all while having fun. That’s what we like to call a win-win.


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