Word Train

by DJ Fish

The object of this game is to increase vocabulary. It's a game that people of all ages can play anywhere -- there are no physical game pieces.

I love learning and games that involve brain work, so Word Train has become of of my personal favorites. This game is good for creating conversation, keeping boredom at bay, or even teaching kids vocabulary. English as a Second Language learners can also play to speed up the process of learning new words.

Here's how to play: the first person says a word beginning with "A." The next person says a word beginning with the last letter of the previous person's word.

For example, number 1 says "ApplE." The next person will say "ElephanT", and the person after will say "Tea." The person who cannot come up with a word in 5 seconds is out, and people can play until a final winner is decided.

I was first introduced to the game when I was 4 by my sister. I read a lot, but I never looked up words because I could often guess through context. She was 6 at the time, and her teacher had taught her this game in an effort to foster the practice of using a dictionary.

Over the years, we've developed a few strategies to win the game. For example, try to end all your words with a "y": the next person won't have very many words to use unless he or she has a massive vocabulary.

Think of all the words you can starting with uncommon letters like "zebra", "xylophone", or "kaleidoscope" when it's not your turn. If the person before you gives you a difficult letter, you'll be ready to handle it.

You can also try changing up the rules. If you're trying to review grammar, only do nouns, verbs, or propositions. To encourage vocabulary building, allow only words that are more than six letters long, or allow only words that are cognates from French or Latin.

The most fun I've had with this game was the story my sister and I made up while playing this game. It turned out to be a really silly story that resembled magnetic poetry, something along the lines of "mermaid dove. Entered deep pool. Like every young guppy, yonder regal lady yodelled."

Maybe we were on a sugar high while we played that time, but the story still remains one of my most vivid memories of childhood!

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