Literacy Based Games To Bust Winter Boredom


Winter on the Seacoast can be long, dreary, and really cold. Luckily, we have great options to keep us busy outside in the snow. But sometimes, it’s just too chilly to venture out. In those cases, what’s a parent with cooped up kids to do?

Try a game with a bit of a literacy twist! Given my background as a teacher, I’m always looking for ways to weave learning into my kids’ activities. These games are “fun” approved by my kiddos and I love that they have so much fun playing, they don’t notice that they’re also practicing essential skills needed for reading.

Here are my recommendations for literacy based games that will keep your kids entertained on those freezing cold days. 

Game: Gamenote Sight Words Swat 

Ages: PreK – 3rd Grade

How to Play: Easy to play, simply call out the word and the kids have to “see it, say it, swat it”.  If they get it right, they keep the word. This game comes with 520 Dolch and Fry sight words at five different levels.

What it Teaches: Vocabulary, recognizing sight words, hand-eye correspondence, spelling, reading skills.

Hint: If you have a younger child who is working on letter identification, make your own paper letters for them to swat. Switch out the words for the letters so they can play the game, too. 

Game: Usborne Alphabet Matching Games

Ages: 4 – 6 Years 

How to Play: This game can be played like the game of memory or bingo. 

What it Teaches: Letter identification, letter sounds, lower case letter practice, memory work.

Hint: Included with the game is a book that helps teach the alphabet. Usborne also makes a number matching game that is equally as fun. 

Game: Apples to Apples Junior 

Ages: 9 Years+ 

How to Play: Each round, one player will be the “judge” and decides which of the other players has the best match to the description card. Players can convince the judge why their card is the best match. 

What it Teaches: Vocabulary, nouns and adjectives, synonyms, critical thinking skills, creativity. 

Hint: This game is great for a family game night! There is an adult version as well. 

Game: Silly Sentences 

Ages: 5 – 8 Years+ 

How to Play: Get ready for laughs! Players create sentences and fit the words together to form a puzzle. 

What it Teaches: Grammar, vocabulary, constructing sentences, punctuation, parts of speech, capitalization, reading.  

Hint: Some of the word cards also have pictures on them, a good reading strategy. 

Game: Guess Who? 

Ages: 5 Years+

How to Play: Each player chooses a mystery character card and then asks yes or no questions to try and guess the other player’s card.

What it Teaches: Descriptive language vocabulary, receptive and expressive language skills, deductive reasoning. 

Hint: Don’t be afraid to try this game with younger children. I was surprised how well this game worked with my preschooler! 

Game: Scrabble Junior

Ages: 5 Years+

How to Play: Match the letters on the board to create words. 

What it Teaches: Letter identification and matching, spelling, vocabulary. 

Hint: The game board has two different sides. When players are ready for more of a challenge, just flip the board over. 

Game: Frida’s Fruit Fiesta Game

Ages: 4 Years+ 

How to Play: Spin the letter spinner, search for a letter match, grab it with tweezers, and place it on your card. The first to find four in a row is the winner. 

What it Teaches: Alphabet proficiency, strategic thinking, fine motor skills, matching.  

Hint: I love that this game uses uppercase letters which is great for kids just starting out. 

Game: Alphabet Fun-To-Know Puzzles

Ages: 3 – 7 Years+

How to Play: This self-checking, two sided puzzle lets kids practice matching upper and lowercase letters, as well as match the word and letter sound to a picture. 

What it Teaches: Letter identification, upper and lowercase letters, letter sounds, spelling, vocabulary. 

Hint: There’s a rhyming version of this puzzle that’s great for phonemic awareness which allows children to listen to sounds within words and identify word parts. 

Game: Table Topics Kids

Ages: 4 Years+ 

How to Play: My kids love these conversation cards! Very easy to use, simply read the question on the card and each player answers. Cards like ‘what would be the best flavor for toothpaste’ will have your kids talking up a storm. 

What it Teaches: Conversation skills, creative thinking, reading practice. 

Hint: Try playing this game at dinner, on a road trip, or at family game night. 

Game: Taboo

Ages: 13 Years+

How to Play: Divide into teams and have one person from each team pick a card. The card will have a word that the other team members will have to guess. The tricky part? The person with the card can’t say the words listed on the card when trying to explain what the word is. 

What it Teaches: Vocabulary, adjectives, creative and critical thinking.

Hint: This game comes with a buzzer and a timer, but it’s easy to make it more casual for family trips or car rides. Just bring a handful of the cards and let the fun begin. 

Game: Boggle

Ages: 8 Years+

How to Play: Shake up the grid to mix up the letters, set the timer, and then each player has 90 seconds to find as many words as they can. 

What it Teaches: Spelling, vocabulary.

Hint: This game is great for preschoolers as well. Allow them to play with the letters, dump them out, and then place them back into the grid. It’s great for letter identification, one to one correspondence practice, and fine motor skills.  

Game: Letter Puzzles 

Ages: 18 Months+

How to Play: Your child will match the letters to the correct place on the puzzle board. 

What it Teaches: Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, colors, letter identification, letter sounds. 

Hint: Some letter puzzles can be rather small. If you’re using this game with a younger kiddo, just be sure to watch out for puzzle pieces going to their mouth! 

While it’s easy to purchase these games at bigger online stores, don’t forget about our wonderful, local shopping options. Stores like Diversions Puzzles and Games, Treehouse Toys, and Noggin Factory are great spots to look for learning games and activities for your kids. Also, your local Seacoast library should have lots of game options for kids when they visit. 

What types of indoor games do you like to play in the winter with your kids? 

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I’m a Maine native and after a long stretch of time living in Chicago, I feel lucky to again call the Seacoast my home. I currently live in Kennebunk with my husband, two sons, and a spaniel mix who truly believes he is a furry big brother to our boys. I hold a Master of Education degree from the University of Maine and as a certified English and Special Education teacher, a passion of mine has always been helping students and connecting them to reading and writing. Free time is best spent in the sunshine with family and friends, curled up with a good book, eating my husband’s incredible cooking, or creatively writing for the kids in my life. Being a mom is the most challenging and amazing job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.