Spark of the Day: Words within Words


Here’s a fun game that you can never out grow, you just make it more challenging each time you play! Finding words within words has become a fun family favorite in our home, and I hope it will be the same in yours!

What you will need:

Lined paper, a pencil and a dictionary or a spell checker

What to do:

Give each player a piece of paper, choose a word, a group of words or a phrase, and write them on the top of the page.

Use the letters in the word(s) to make as many new words as possible.

You can use everyday words, names, holidays, phrases, or random letters to make your words.

Everyone should be allowed to use a spell checker or dictionary to look up words when playing the game the first few times. When everyone understands how to play the game, the spell checker or dictionary should only be used for challenging words. Verify words before you say, “that’s not a word!” because it may be and you do not even know it!

Note: If you want a full list of what words can be found in your chosen word or phrase, please check out this site: Wordles –  Wordplays: Words Within Words or Scrabble Word Finder

Sample Word…..

Here are just a few of almost 300 words, that can be found in the word:
fun, cool, noon, hug, go, no, nun, sun, fin, gin, fling, log, confusion

Who can play?

This is a great game for anyone who likes to write, who is reluctant to write, or anyone who would like to hone their thinking skills! It can be played by anyone who can identify words or those who would like to try! If you have a reluctant writer or reader, this game may help them feel more comfortable because they will be using words in a fun and interesting way.

Getting started….

Start out by sharing a piece of paper and take turns finding and writing one word at a time. When players are feeling more confident with the game, give everyone their own piece of paper, and take turns writing two or three words during each turn. Continue this way until you cannot make any more words, or until the game loses its appeal.

Tip: Too many rules may make the game confusing and discourage someone from wanting to play. When playing with new or younger players, keep the game open-ended by limiting or eliminating the rules.

When you are ready, add some twists to the game….

    •  Make a minimum word length (ie: words need to be at least 3 or 4 letters long).
    •  See who can get the most words, the longest word, and who can finish first.
    •  Make the rule that names cannot be used (ie. Tom, Kim, Mike etc.)
    •  Set a timer and find a certain number of words within that time period!
    •  Play until each player reaches a set goal or until the person with the most words wins.
    •  Cross-out the words that are the same between the players.
    •  Make a rule that each player must know what the word means. Challenge a word to see if the other player knows what the word means or if they are guessing at its authenticity! If the word cannot be verified, what will the consequence be? (write five extra words, lose five words, skipped turn?)
    •  Keep score: make each letter of the word count as one point
    •  If you have a word that is spelled the same but sounds differently (homographs), should the player be allowed to keep it? (We usually allow the word as long as the player knows the meanings.)

It’s important to decide on and agree to the rules before playing.

Open-ended Play Version

It can be a lot of fun to come up with words and jot them down throughout the day, so leave the game around for everyone to play!

Challenging Versions

  1. Play with parts of speech by using only verbs, nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Use a spell checker/dictionary to challenge words.
  2. Have all the words begin with a certain letter or use a specific topic such as animals or places.

Non-writer Version

  • Do you have a good reader who refuses to write? Then make letter cards out of index cards or small paper squares. Make one card for each letter of the chosen word/phrase and ask the player to make words with the letter cards.
  • Use letter tiles from another word games or use magnetic letters or words.
  • Have the player type the words into a word processor or use a voice dictation system.

Keeping Records

  • If you need to keep written records of the things you do for evaluation purposes, date your child’s page and put it in a folder.
  • You can also have someone else date the page and write the words down for the player who does not write. 
  • Attach a picture of the child playing the game to the page used for a game if records need to be kept.

Remember to keep it fun!

Fun Magnified