Using Apples to Apples Junior to Build Language Skills
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Build vocabulary. Noun cards include a short definition or description, giving your child the opportunity to build his vocabulary as he plays.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.