Here’s a mini-round up of some lesser-known board games that bring out the wordplay for beginning and early readers:
What’s Gnu? is a game where players flip up letter tiles and race to create 3-letter words. This is great for kids that are just gaining confidence at reading.
Toot and Otto is another interesting beginner game. It’s a four-in-a-row game where one kid tries to spell TOOT while the other tries to make the same letters spell OTTO. It’s more of a strategy game than a word game, but still good for getting kids to think about letters and how they can be arranged to form words.
Cariboo is a game that includes matching up letters and sounds. Note that it is one of those rare games for really young kids (age 3 and up) that doesn’t just involve moving a piece from start to finish over and over again.
A big favorite in my house for several years running is A to Z Junior. Players pick categories such as “flavors of ice cream” and try to come up with answers starting with as many different letters as they can.
Rubberneckers Jr. is a scavenger hunt card game to be played while riding in the car. It’s solid entertainment for long car rides. And searching for words, like “bump” and “stop” on road signs, is a GREAT reading exercise. In fact, I know a lot of people who tell me that "stop" was the very first word their child learned to read.