10 Great Games to Gift Your 6th-12th Grader (With Language Benefits!)

My game cabinets were getting full at the elementary school I work at, so when I got a bigger office at the middle school, I was ecstatic! I could finally move more games up to my second office since it was larger, which created more room in my cabinets at the elementary school! In addition, my secondary students could finally enjoy playing games more often again like they had in my room when they were younger. We couldn't play the same games, however; they had to be developmentally appropriate for my middle schoolers. As I was looking at the ages of the games I already owned, I thought about my family Christmas each year and how we would decide on a game to purchase and play together. Many of the games that I was bringing with me to the middle school were also family favorites that we had purchased around Christmastime. This is one of my fondest memories around the holidays. So let me share some holiday cheer with you in this list of my favorite holiday games that I also use in speech-language therapy due to their educational value! Continue reading for 10 great games to gift your 6th-12th grader this holiday season!

Apples to Apples Party Box

1. Apples to Apples (Ages 12+) - This game works on categorization, synonyms, antonyms, and adjectives. I played this game with my female cousin the Christmas after it first came out and we burst out laughing constantly! If you already have the original game, check out the expansion packs! If you have younger kids, there is a Junior version of this game as well!

Catch Phrase

2. Catch Phrase (Ages 16+) - Try to get your teammates to say the secret word without saying it through descriptions only! My friends and I played this game on New Years Eve underneath the stars on a deck a couple years ago. It was fast-paced and fun! My mother heard me talking about it and bought it the following year for our family at Christmas.

Taboo game

3. Taboo (Ages 13+) - This game is also great for working on word-finding/word retrieval skills. I have played this game over and over with my brother and our friends. In my family, there have been a few "classic" memories where made-up and unique words have been used as descriptions that I will never forget. The motivating thing about this game is that one person monitors another to make sure that they don't say certain words on a card when describing the main word to their teammate, and if they do, that person gets to press the buzzer on them. Of course, there are times that buzzer use can get a bit out of hand, but it normally only adds to the hilarity of playing the game.

You Gotta Be Kidding Me game

4. You Gotta Be Kidding Card Game (Ages 7+) - This is a "would you rather" style card game that is fast and fun to play! The card deck is small enough to fit in your pocket for use on the go. There are lots of great (and some gross) cards in the deck that will cause your children to laugh! Your child will get lots of practice working on his or her "r" sound ("rather") without even realizing it!

Buzz Word

5. Buzz Word (Ages 10+) - Not only does this game work on word-finding/word retrieval skills, it is great for articulation as well! Each card has a word at the top that is used in five other words on the card with a sentence clue for each word. You can pick out cards with your child's sound for maximum practice. I had not heard of this game until I found a mini version of it at Michaels. My students liked it so much that I bought both the original and Junior versions of the game (I still keep the mini version in my purse sometimes just in case I need a quick activity)!

Name 5

6. Name 5 (Ages 12+) - Originally, I purchased the Name 5 calendar for my secondary students. This got them motivated to see which category they were going to get to name five items in each day. After the success of the calendar, I immediately purchased the game. There are so many different categories on each card that this game can last and last and last. This game gives you the most for your money - which is perfect for holiday buying.


7. Hedbanz (Ages 7+) - With HedBanz, it does not matter how silly you look while playing it - you will be having a blast! No more licking a card and hoping it will stick to your head - HedBanz takes care of that with their heavy-duty, adjustable plastic head band! This game works on asking and answering questions as well as categorization skills. I think this is the most requested game of my 2nd-6th grade students. There is even an adult version which I have had fun playing with my friends. The best thing is that this game has so many different variations, some that are the same "HedBanz" brand and some that aren't: HedBanz, HedBanz: Act Up!, Adult HedBanz, Disney HedBanz, Jeepers Peepers (Super Duper Publications), Guess What I Am (Techno Source), and Who Am I (Haba). What this shows is that this game is awesome. Children try to figure out which card is on their head by asking questions to the other players and the other players give them hints through answers and/or gestures. This game is energetic and will get your children up, moving, and describing!


8. Scattergories (Ages 12+) - Want to see a room of children spread out acting secretive where they are not getting into trouble? Give them Scattergories! When I was a child I guarantee you that I was hiding my Scattergories list from my friends so that they did not copy any answers from me, and if they did have the same answer, laughter flew throughout the air. Children roll a dice with most of the alphabet on it and then have to name items on a list of categories with the letter rolled as the first letter in each item's name. Each player works off of the same list, which is why people sometimes come up with the same answers only to have them crossed off - this is where things get creative! Also, there are more points for answers with multiple words with the given letter (for example: Naming a cartoon character with the letter "p" - "Porky Pig" would get 2 points).

Mad Gab

9. Mad Gab (Ages 10+) - This bright, orange-boxed game may drive kids mad, but it will certainly get them gabbing! One of my teachers in high school would pull out a card a day from this box and try to get us to solve the puzzle. Your child will read the word or phrase on the card aloud, sounding it out as it is spelled, and his or her friend will have to try and figure out what in the world he or she is saying! Things get really goofy and mixed up when playing Mad Gab! It is a fun way to work on literacy, auditory processing, and articulation skills!


10. Mastermind (Ages 8+) - If you went to my elementary school, you might have played this game at indoor recess or as a tricky attention game. My problem-solving and visual attention skills were worked on to the max during that time! It took a while to figure out the trick to this game (looking at the past trials). One player hides a secret color combination and the other player has to guess it in a certain number of trials. This game takes a bit to teach, but once understood, children will have fun creating secret color combination codes for one another to figure out!

I am a huge board games fan - born and raised - so I hope you found some new family favorites for you and your teenagers to play in this post!


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