Here is a simple that that you can play with your kids to help them learn new words. Games are good for education when it comes to kids and the name of the game that we are going to learn today is:

Crazy Ates

Turn a family card game into rhyming practice.


Build vocabulary and practice rhyming and categorizing skills.


A standard deck of playing cards.


Anywhere, anytime, especially when the whole family’s in the mood for a card game.

The Game

Shuffle the deck and deal five cards to each player. Put the remaining cards in a stack face down on the table. Start a discard pile by taking the top card from the stack and laying it face up alongside the stack. It’s important that you take the first turn.

Follow the basic rules of the classic card game Crazy Eights: that is, each player must lay down a card from his hand that matches the top card in the discard stack either by suit or by number. For example, if the top card is a six of clubs, player one can discard a six of any suit or a club of any denomination.

In Crazy Ates, as player one lays down the first card, he calls out a word for example, ate. Player two must match the new top card in either number or suit and must think up a word that rhymes (plate, crate, late) before he lays down his matching card. If player two has no cards to match, he must pick from the face-down stack until a suitable match is found. As you play, continue to call out words that rhyme with ate until an 8 turns up.

helping kids with learning words

Picking an 8 changes everything. The player who has an 8 (of any suit) can lay it on any card. At the same time, he can, if he wishes, change the suit (say, from clubs to hearts) and change the original word (say, from ate to fun). Thereafter, players must call out words that rhyme (run, sun—even cinnamon bun) until someone lays down another 8 and changes the word and suit yet again. There are no duplications and no nonsense words allowed but if your child is having trouble finding a rhyming word, you can help out by giving good hints. A player who cannot come up with a rhyming word must pass. If everyone has exhausted all rhyming possibilities, let your child come up with a new word to rhyme. The first player to get rid of all his cards wins the game.

Throughout the game, keep a running list of the words in play. You can refer to it if your child repeats a word that has already been spoken. However, words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homonyms) are permissible: for example, your child can call out wait and weight as long as he explains the different meanings. At the end of the game, you can read the whole list together.


Play this as a phonics game by announcing a letter and then calling out words that begin with that letter (for example, if b is in play, players can call out boy, bat, big, buffalo, and so on). As your child gets better at playing, you can practice thinking up words that end with the letter (rub, cab, crib) or that have the letter somewhere inside it (crabby, table, Teletubby).

When your child has mastered one thing, aim for something slightly harder. For example, when single consonant sounds become too easy, move on to blends, like the /bl/ in blink, blab, or blue.

For an extra challenge, use blends that rhyme, like blab, grab, slab.


If you play this as a phonics game, begin with consonants and move to vowels or practice letters that give your child the most trouble.

If your child can write, ask him to keep the list of words in play. Help him with spelling especially with variations such as late, weight, great, wait.

To streamline the game, reduce the size of the deck by removing all cards over 8 before you play.