A well developed vocabulary is important for so many skills, including effective oral communication, well developed written language skills, fluent reading and reading comprehension. Brainstorming helps develop use of more complex vocabulary and assists in problem solving skills such as thinking of a range of alternative responses to a situation.

Brainstorming games are a fun, free way to develop kids vocabulary. You don't need any equipment and you can play them anywhere. They are great for filling in time or while travelling in the car. They are also a useful way of preparing kids for new topics of learning and for preparing for written tasks such as story writing.

Topics for brainstorming


  • Animals
  • Farm Animals
  • Zoo Animals
  • Birds
  • Sea Creatures
  • Insects
  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Furniture
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Drinks
  • Transport
  • Sports
  • Toys
  • Occupations
  • Living Things
  • Places
  • Emotions
  • TV shows
  • Song titles

Action Categories

  • Things that fly
  • Things that swim
  • Things that float
  • Things you can eat
  • Things you can drink
  • Things you can wear
  • Things you can draw with
  • Things you can ride on
  • Things you can break
  • Things you can say to some one who is sad
  • Things to make someone happy
  • Things to do for someone’s birthday
  • Things to do in summer/winter
  • Things we use for cleaning
  • Things for fixing something
  • Things you can look at
  • Things you can listen to
  • Things that are healthy for you
  • Things that you can play with
  • Things that you use in the kitchen/bathroom

Descriptive Categories

  • Colours (ie red/blue/yellow things etc.)
  • Light/heavy things
  • Hot/cold things
  • Soft/hard/rough/smooth
  • Big/small things
  • Scary/funny things
  • Things that make you happy/sad/angry
  • Round/square things
  • Short/tall/long things
  • Wide/narrow things
  • Wet/dry/sticky/crunchy things
  • Sweet/sour/salty things
  • Furry/prickly/fluffy things
  • Dark/bright/shiny things

Brainstorming activities

1. Count the number of items you can think for each category in a specified time (one or two minutes) and try to beat the highest number.

2. Take turns to name an item within a category and the last person to think of an item is the winner.

3. Set a number e.g. ten items and use a timer to see who can think of that many items in the shortest amount of time.

4. Alphabet game. Choose a category and the first person thinks of an item beginning with A, the next with B and so on. E.g. Avocado, Brocoli, Carrot, etc

5. End to end. The first person’s word is written down and then the next person thinks of a word that starts with the last letter of that word e.g. Car, Railway, Yacht, Truck, Kayak

6. Acrostic. Write the name of the category vertically down the page and think of an item for each letter.

  • Alligator
  • Numbat
  • Iguana
  • Moose
  • Anteater
  • Lion
  • Seal

Use brainstorming to keep kids busy when travelling. On the way to the beach "let's see how many things we can think of that we might see there". We are going shopping so "lets think of all the fruit we might see in the shop". Make a list and tick of the ones that you see.

Use brainstorming as a preparation for written language tasks such as story writing and to introduce new learning topics. Words from your word list can then be used to plan your writing and can help as a support with spelling of new words. You can include brainstorming for lists of words associated with your topic, describing words for your setting, and describing words for your characters. Beginning with a character then brainstorming actions that character may perform is a great way to create an action based, character driven story.

Older students could try more complex tasks such as listing all the words associated with a colour, a piece of music, a piece of art or a photograph and use this as beginning for a piece of writing.

For more ideas and activities to develop language skills including vocabulary click here.

There are also lots more fun ideas on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Talking Matters provides speech pathology, occupational therapy and psychology services to kids of all ages in Adelaide, South Australia. To find out more about our team and what we do browse our website and see how we can help your family.

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