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Using Apples to Apples Junior to Build Language Skills

Cards from apples to apples game

Vocabulary Building Fun!

If you’re looking for a new game to try, look no further than Apples to Apples Junior! This fast-paced card game is not only a ton of fun, it’s also a wonderful way to expand vocabulary!

One of the most appealing things about Apples to Apples is its simplicity. Unlike some games that require a thorough briefing before play begins, this one is easy to explain in just a few sentences.

You’ll need at least three people to play, but it is even more fun with a larger group. The suggested age range is nine and up, but younger children should have no problem successfully playing this game in a family setting with help from Mom and Dad! Gameplay lasts 30-60 minutes.

How to Play

Players take turns being the judge of each round. Let’s say your friend is the judge of the first round. She deals five red cards to each player. You look at your cards, but you don’t show them to anyone else.

child holding apples to apples cards

Now the judge lays down one green adjective card. See how there are two synonyms on the card? It can be fun to consider the shades of meaning between the synonyms.

sporty card from apples to apples game

Look at your cards and decide which one is the most sporty.

  • Pancakes? — Not a chance. Your friend doesn’t even like pancakes!
  • Losing your backpack? — Hmm, that might be something she’d do on your camping trips, and camping trips are sporty.
  • Vacuum cleaner? — Well, your friend does love to do chores. Can vacuuming be a sport?
  • Sporty underwear? — Ahhh … that could appeal to her silly sense of humor! And she is the judge of this round.
  • Gymnastics? — Possibly. After all, gymnastics is a sport.

Now you make your final selection and lay it face down on the table alongside the cards selected by the other players.

sporty card with a bunch of cards

The judge shuffles the red cards so she doesn’t know who tossed in which card. Now her job is to decide which card best fits the word sporty. There’s a bit of friendly banter as players try to encourage her to pick a particular card—either their own or the one they think is best. Spirited discussion is allowed, and the judge doesn’t even have to pick the card that makes the most sense. The judge might just like the creativity (or humor!) of a particular card.

sporty and underwear card from apples to apples

The judge picked your card! I guess underwear is sporty, after all! That’s one point for you, and the first player to earn five points wins the game!

5 Ways to Build Language Skills with Apples to Apples

  1. Learn nouns (including some gerunds) and adjectives. As you play the game, help kids understand what nouns and adjectives are and how they are used. The noun cards may also include gerunds (words formed with verbs ending in ing that act as nouns, like surfing and shopping). To find a gerund, look for ing.
  2. Build vocabulary. Noun cards include a short definition or description, giving your child the opportunity to build his vocabulary as he plays.
  3. Encourage creative word play. The game encourages children to think outside the box and find new ways to describe both familiar words and new additions to their vocabulary. It’s fun for kids (and adults, too!) to explain why they chose a particular card during game play.
  4. Play with words and their meanings. The descriptions on some cards are meant to be funny. For example, the description on the hamburger card asks, Do you want fries with that? These fun descriptions provide great opportunities for discussion about the words and their meanings!
  5. Play with synonyms. Adjective cards feature words like talented, interesting, and goofy. Each adjective card also lists two synonyms for the featured word, introducing kids to shades of meaning and expanding their descriptive vocabulary.
Download the Apples to Apples Game Sheet here

Notes from Our Game Testers

  • This review is for the Junior version, but there are other versions available, too. We liked the original Apples to Apples Party Box version but didn’t enjoy the current version nearly as much because there were a lot more pop culture references that many of the players in our group didn’t know or understand. But your group may love it!
  • If a player has difficulty holding the cards, try using a card holder such as the Gamewright Little Hands Playing Card Holder. It also helps people who are bothered by sharp edges and corners on cards.
  • With over 500 cards, there are virtually infinite combinations of nouns and adjectives, guaranteeing a unique game every time—no matter how often you play!

Does your family have a favorite board game that is a fun and “sneaky” way to build language skills? Please share in the comments below.

All About Learning Press, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All proceeds from our partnership with Amazon.com will be donated to local libraries.
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lettucepatchkids

says:

Thanks for the review… I think I found what game to get our kids for New Years (our family tradition is to give our kids a new game to play on New Years Day)

Aquahaze

says:

We have Apples to Apples, Apples to Apples Jr., and Disney Apples to Apples. A few years ago, a friend had mentioned how much fun the Bible version was (we don’t have that one), that I bought us the “green one” Junior. It is awesome! This is the only game that we have continued to play for more than “now”. I believe we’ve been playing it for three years and still play it at our monthly neighborhood game night.

BTW, we started playing when our now 7 year old was 4… we would assist by reading each of the cards and the meaning, and allow the 7 year old to make the decisions. Until this blog, however, I NEVER thought of it as a vocabulary builder. Thank you for the thought planting! :-D

Congratulations to the winner!

ReneeK

says:

My kids played Apples to Apples once and loved it at a friends house. I have been wanting to buy it for them-I just keep forgetting!!!

gavinsmomma

says:

Wow, you make me want to go out and buy this game now! We really need something like this! Thanks for the review! This will be a Christmas gift for my son this year!

onemotherslove

says:

I’m so glad I found this post! Someone gave us an Expansion Pack a few years ago, but we didn’t have the rest of the game, so I didn’t know how to play it!

tdmom

says:

After playing this at a friend’s house, we finally bought Apples to Apples for ourselves. Whenever we have guests over, it is a favorite game to play! After reading the comments here, I’ve learned they have a Bible edition and I want to learn more about it! Thanks!

hilarycjohnson

says:

I love this game, I hadn’t thought about using with our kids as much yet — they’re still a little young, but I LOVE the idea of bringing this out and starting to play it with them!

MicheleB

says:

Thank you for this review. I have heard the name of the game before, but never knew what it was about. I think this could be quite useful and fun to use with my five boys, particularly my younger ones and my autistic son who respond well to games.

Anonymous

says:

This is my daughter’s favorite game. It is good for vocabulary. However, if you have a family member who thinks extremely concretely, like my husband, it can be a bit frustrating.

Anonymous

says:

I have been meaning to get this game, I think you have just convinced me! Thanks

Anonymous

says:

When we have groups of teens over this is almost always the go to activity!! Love it!

Anonymous

says:

My kids love games so it’s a great way to “sneak in” learning. We have the Bible edition of Apples to Apples (not sure if it is good for vocabulary building), but we’ve never played it. I think we’ll bust it open this evening!

shaelachip

says:

Apples to Apples sounds like so much fun.

purepeace

says:

Hi,
I’ve heard of Apples to Apples, but didn’t really know what it was about…
It sounds really fun.
I’d like to recommend bananagrams, but it’s too hard to play with children who haven’t mastered basic spelling.
purepeace

juliehahs

says:

My mother in law mentioned this game to me. NOW i’m interested. Thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous

says:

I LOVE Apples to Apples! We play it at Christmas time when I go to my sister’s house. I would LOVE to own this!

Anonymous

says:

Whoonu, a get-to-know-you game by Cranium
That’s not for vocabulary so much as relationship-building, but the way the game is played sounds very similar. Whoonu also is good for a variety of ages all playing together.

macob2

says:

I’ve only played it once, but it was a lot of fun! I’d like to play again!

Anonymous

says:

Thanks for the review! I’ve heard this is a great game! We’re definitely going to have to get it!

Lin

says:

I have not had the opportunity to play this game but your review was very informative. I know it is one to have and the students would enjoy playing it to the fullest.

Anonymous

says:

I’ve heard a lot about this game, but never as a vocabulary building tool. I would love to win this for my family.

Anonymous

says:

I have never played this game before, but heard that it is a great game. I am wondering
if it will be a good game for my first grade class. I love to give the students letter fun
activities to do each day, so that they become more familiar with words and learn that
writing can be lots of fun! I would love any ideas on how to teach a love of words,
reading, spelling, or anything.

Anonymous

says:

Apples to Apples is the only game my son will play. I’m so thankful that he will play something with the rest of us.

Anonymous

says:

I had not known what this game helped teach. Now I do. :) Thanks.

Renée LaTulippe

says:

I have never heard of this game! It sounds so creative, like a great workout for the imagination! Will definitely put it on my list.

rjbmom7

says:

We love this game. All of our children ages 12 to 28 have played it together. We always end up laughing and having a great time. One day I played it with my 4 daughters (ages 12, 14, 16 and 28), we have never laughed so hard.

Anonymous

says:

This looks like a good game for our family of 10

Anonymous

says:

I played this game once in our church small group. We all had so much fun! I’ve been meaning to pick it up for my family to enjoy on our game night.

Samantha Johnson

says:

Wonderful review of a wonderful game! Apples to Apples is one of my favorites. I especially love playing it with my grandmother–when she is the judge, she comes up with the most entertaining reasons for making her choices. It’s fun. :-)

Merry

says:

Great review, Megan!

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