Game on: playing with worms

I think you know by now that I like the odd pun, a spot of alliteration. So when I say playing with worms, it’s really about playing with words. There.  Just to reassure you.

Playing with words may not feel like playing a game – and in a sense, it’s not. But wordplay is still entertainment, and useful in all those places where games would come in handy. Buses. Trains. Doctor’s waiting rooms.

Playing with words is rewarding for anyone who likes a game that requires you to be inventive. It encourages a good vocabulary (or perhaps more accurately, allows for smugness if you already do. But then most games do also allow for a measure of smugness, so it doesn’t get excluded just because of that). I’ll limit it to a couple of games:

1) The word game of my youth is The Minister’s Cat. I’m sure it goes by other names too, but the notion is that you work through the alphabet, in turn. (A certain amount of leeway is usually given if you have to do ‘X’ on your turn: eXciting, eXuberant.)

The usual way of playing is with adjectives:

The Minister’s Cat is a….(use an adjective beginning with A) cat.

e.g. The Minister’s Cat is an active cat.

You then take it in turns to come up with other equivalents where the adjective starts with A. (If the group is big, that allows for a good range – but it can still be fun even with just two.)

The plus point of playing with a few people is that it gives you time to come up with your next go:

The Minister’s Cat is a bumptious cat. And so on.

This one works fine for a medium-length car journey – but it might do just as well on another shared task where you are all together, and need a little entertainment.  Chopping lots of veg? Doing some pre-Christmas making? Those kind of situations.


Work with a theme, and keep going through the alphabet:

Food: The Minister’s Cat eats asparagus

International places: The Minister’s Cat lives in Amsterdam

(or do a place names for the country you live in e.g. The Minister’s Cat lives in Anstruther…)

And so on. I’m sure you could work your way around sports teams, too…

(The Minister’s Cat plays for AC Milan??)

Helping out:

If you are playing with younger team mates, grown-ups are allowed to pile in and help if kids are struggling for a suitable word for that letter. I’m sure you could equally play this in teams, and if one team can’t answer, you could offer it up as a bonus point for the other team.

2) My mother went shopping

This is probably the classic title, but why limit it to mums? Or, indeed, to conventional shopping items?

This is really a memory game, where choosing unusual words/items can be a real help to remembering them. Each person repeats the whole thing from the beginning, and adds on another item:

My alien went shopping and it bought…

…a lump of smelly cheese

…a turbo booster for its space craft

…a bag of googly eyes…

This can be great if you are travelling, or in a room with lots of items, because it gives you lots of ideas for new shopping items, as well as visual prompts to remember the whole list.

Helping out: you might award a certain number of reminders, for junior players; or offer up a point to someone else if they can offer the prompt.

What other word games would you play on the move – or anywhere else? And which ones do you find offer the most entertainment? Add a comment, and offer your top tips!