Word games should not be undervalued in terms of a way to teach effectively, or written off as only for play time. Yes, they often fall under the umbrella of play, but no, they are not an ineffectual method of teaching!
Repetition, practice, and a deepening awareness of subject matter. These are all encouraged while playing word games. I start off every class with two fun, often boisterous, non-writing activities:
Word Games #1: The Dead Word Wall
Death to all overused words! Said! Happy! Walked! Hot! Boring. Non-descriptive. Plain old unhelpful when it comes to creating a unique character or scene or setting. Each week the writers are
encouraged to offer a synonym for the dead words. Extra points go to really fantastic ones like petrified for sad, or ambled for walked.
Word Games #2: Invords
Invord: (noun) def: an invented word; combining real words or parts of words and inventing the definition.
Kids LOVE this activity. The snapshot illustrates my attempt to keep up with the influx of invords the writers come into class with.
Here are a few real invords created by Pilgrim Day School students:
Llamacy: (noun) def: a dream about llamas
Orandime: (noun) def: a crime or freak-out related to an orange
Hambrella: (noun) def: a ham umbrella
Pigebook: (noun) def: Pigeon Facebook