Top 5 Literacy Games to have at Home!

Games are fun to play as a family. There are so many games out there that also help children to learn important educational skills.

My Top Literacy Games to have at Home (ages 4-9)

Here are my favourite games which support developing literacy skills; I have divided them into the following areas of development: letters and spelling, vocabulary and explanation skills, storytelling and imagination.

Letters and Spellings

Alphabet Lotto (by Orchard Toys) – This is a colourful game for 3-6 year olds, that helps children learn, to recognise letters of the alphabet and start thinking about beginning sounds in words. A bonus, is that there are four ways that you can play this game; you can match picture cards to the picture lotto boards (this is the easiest way to play the game and helps children develop visual scanning skills too); you can match letter cards to the letter lotto boards (which is good to test letter recognition without picture support), you can also match letter cards to the picture boards and finally, you can match the picture cards to the letter boards.

Where to find Alphabet Lotto?

Targets: Letter learning, letter recognition, early sound awareness skills, letter matching

Bananagrams (by Bananagrams Games) – I recently purchased this game and I’m so glad that I did! Bananagrams provides you with lots of letters (like in Scrabble but without the points) that you can use to spell words and make a crossword; therefore, it is a great game to encourage spelling at home, without using a pencil and paper, hence perfect for a reluctant writer. I have a habit (depending on the game) of not reading instructions, as I generally, already have my own ideas of how I can specifically play a game; this was the case with Bananagrams, so I will explain to you how I am using it.

Obviously, the game target is to make words, but I don’t restrict children to having a certain amount of letters (although this is better suited for an older child, aged 8+); we use all the letters and any letters we need! I give children small challenges – I look at the letters available on the crossword being made, and give the following sorts of challenges e.g. “Make a word ending in D or starting with F” or “Make a magic e word, starting with G” etc. Make sure you get some challenges too!

It is also possible to use this game with smaller siblings (ages 4/5), on very basic level, to spell simple CVC words such as ‘c-a-t’.

Where to find Banangrams?

Targets: letter recognition, spelling, word analysis


Vocabulary and Explanation Skills

I love describing games because they teach children how to describe and explain; and also help to expand their vocabulary knowledge and knowledge of vocabulary groups. There are two games that I enjoy playing:

Head Bandz (by Paul Lamond Games) – In this game, a player picks up a card (they can’t look at it) and places it in a headband so they cannot see it; and then asks questions to identify the picture they have e.g. Am I an animal? Am I a food? Do I breath? Can you eat me? Etc.

I also play this game another way without the band, where each player simply picks up a card and describes the card they have for the other player/players to guess. For a younger child, aged 4-5, I always say, “3-4 facts please,” for an older child, 5+, I always ask for between 5-6 facts, with one of the clues being a phonetic clue, “it starts with….” or “rhymes with…”. Hence combining phonics and language in to the activity e.g. for a picture of, ‘sandwich’ I would describe it as follows:

  1. This is a something you eat.
  2. You can eat it at lunch.
  3. It has things inside like….
  4. You can cut it.
  5. It can be brown or white.
  6. It begins with s.

Where to buy Headbandz?

Target: vocabulary, explanation skills, sentence development and verbal organisation skills

Never Say (by Tintastic Games)

This is a popular game with the children I work with (ages 6-9), as it gets them really thinking about words, and they love the challenge of this! Each player picks up a card which has a word on it to describe; however there are lots of words that are written on the card that cannot be used within the description. Therefore, each player needs to think creatively of how to describe their word and think of other ways to describe. This will help children think of different words and get used to thinking of alternative words, which is important for creative storytelling and writing.

Where to buy Never Say?

Target: vocabulary, explanation skills, sentence development and verbal organisation skills

Storytelling and Imagination

Rory’s Story Cubes (Creative Hub Ltd)

More and more people are becoming aware of Rory’s Story Cubes. This game is described as “9 Cubes, 54 Images, 10 Million Stories, Infinite Stories” ( In this game, there are a set of 9 cubes, each with a picture on each side, hence the 54 images. Each player takes a turn to roll the dice, line up the dice and then create an entertaining story using whichever pictures are in front of them. This game is perfect for children aged 6+.

There is also an app version available at the app store; just type in Rory’s Story Cubes; perfect for when you are travelling.

Where to buy Story Cubes? (videos available to watch on site)

Target: imagination, storytelling, creative thinking, quick thinking

An easier version of this game for 4-8 years old, with colourful pictures, is Slug in a Jug (by Orchard Toys). Slug in a Jug is essentially a rhyming game (48 pictures are given, with the written word) – you can play this game in three different ways; to summarise, you find matching rhymes and then make up funny sentences. This is another winner from Orchard Toys!

Where to but Slug in a Jug?

Target: imagination, sentence development, storytelling, creative thinking, quick thinking


I hope you found all these suggestions useful. Enjoy the games at home!



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