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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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hassan

says:

just wonderful thanks and keep save

Amanda

says:

We bought this game but still haven’t played it! We will have to start playing now that I know it’s educational 😆 Thanks for the post!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amanda. I hope you enjoy it!

Marisca

says:

What a great idea!!!! I think kids learn so easily when playing games.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We agree, Marisca! Learning is better when it is fun.

David R.

says:

Oh, awesome ideas. This will make great Friday activities for us – a little bit more relaxed than the rest of the week, but still sneaking in some learning.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great minds think alike, David! We regularly did game learning and review on Fridays when my kids were younger.

Faith Shive

says:

Love this idea!

Summer Peters

says:

Adding games to our homeschool has been a total game changer. Will definitely need to look into this one too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you enjoy this game too, Summer. Game learning is so much fun!

Shannon Perea

says:

Such a great idea! I have a tendency to be so serious… but my son LOVES games and this is such a great idea to HAVE FUN in our learning together! Thank you so much for the suggestion! I look forward to trying it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Shannon. I hope you have lots of serious fun learning together with this game!

Joy Silas

says:

What age range?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Joy,
Apples to Apples Junior is rated for ages 9+, although I think somewhat younger students would do well with help.

Lisa S

says:

We have three different Apples to Apples games, and the whole family enjoys them. I always recommend them!

Jeana Lanier Ford

says:

This is a great game . Thanks for the tips

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jeana.

Brittany Boothe

says:

We love this game!

Kim

says:

Boggle has been great for practicing spelling and rapid word recognition.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We agree, Kim! We discuss it in our Using Boggle to Build Language Skills blog post.

Tonya`

says:

That’s a fun idea! My kids love Apples to Apples

Stephanie

says:

We have never actually played apples to apples, we will have to check it out!

Lily Venditti

says:

That looks fun! We need to add more fun to our school day so I may need to incorporate this.

Megan

says:

My kids love Apples to Apples. Thank you for the tip!

Danielle

says:

My kids are finally getting old enough to enjoy Apples to Apples Jr. and I’m so excited to add this into our homeschool game days. Thanks for the idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Danielle. I hope you have lots of fun with this learning!

DeShea Jones

says:

What a great idea! I love Apples to Apples, but never would’ve thought of this.

Lauren Clarke

says:

Thank you for the great idea! Any time you can add games in for learning everyone wins!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

So true, Lauren!

Alaina Nunez

says:

I think we’ll need to add Apples to Apples Jr to our wish list this year. I bet the kids would get a kick out of this game.
Thank you for the suggestion!

Amy

says:

I’m always looking for ideas for “sneaky school”!

Lauren Patrick

says:

What a great idea!!!

Jenny

says:

I’ve been looking for games the whole family can play together and this looks like something worth trying. The added bonus of vocabulary is a plus for sure.

Wendy Massey

says:

Packing this on our camping trip! Thanks for the tip!

Kelsey

says:

Such a great idea! My kids love play board/card games, and they don’t even realize how much they are learning. But sometimes, as mom & teacher, I get so focused on what we need to do (especially when I am worn out or overwhelmed) that I forget to shake things up, make it fun, and add in games.

ami

says:

we have apples to apples long before kids! used it for pg game nights with friends!

Lisa

says:

My kids love apples to apples!

Brigid

says:

One of the biggest problems I encounter with board games that have been “updated” is just what you’ve described here: too many quickly outdated references to pop culture. I’m looking forward to playing these games with my children!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I know what you mean, Brigid. I have a Trivial Pursuits game from the 1990s that is still fun to play if we skip the pop culture questions.

Amanda

says:

What a cool idea!

Leah

says:

I forgot about this game! My kids are finally old enough to enjoy it. Thanks for the great ideas!