March 15, 2017

Teach Parts of Speech with Mad Libs

Online and Printable Mad Libs for elementary school, middle school, and high school

Are you the parent or teacher of a child who struggles with word choice in speaking or writing? Wouldn't it be great for that child to learn the parts of speech while playing a fun game? Mad Libs, a perennial party favorite, is an ideal way to teach the parts of speech.

Motivated to make a silly story, students don't really realize that they are memorizing grammar definitions. A word not sounding right in the story is a gentle way for a child to recognize and correct a mistake without help from a parent or teacher. Besides the original booklets, there are now online versions, printables, DVDs and even iPhone apps. Read on for teaching tips and links.

(This image is of the The Original Mad Libs, which was first published over 50 years ago. (Mad Libs, by the way, is a registered trademark of the Penguin Group (USA). I am using the term here to refer to the official product and the various spinoffs, tributes, and ripoffs that have arisen.)

Mad Libs Lesson Plans and Teaching Tips

Use mad libs for elementary school, middle school, and high school

Fall Mad Libs (from
  • Don't pre-teach too much. Students will pay better attention to your explanations when they need the information you are giving to progress through the game.
  • Students should be the ones to write the words that they come up with (think spelling practice). They obviously can't write directly on the story, so use a blackboard/whiteboard to record words, or prepare a separate paper for students to write on.
  • Pick stories that are interesting to the students, or alter stories to include elements, like familiar names and cultural references, that they will enjoy.
  • After reading the mad-libbed version of a story, go back and have students choose words that would actually make sense in the story. This helps with reading comprehension skills like predicting and making use of context.
  • Have students write their own mad lib stories, and then work with a partner to fill in the blanks.
  • Offer to help the students submit their stories to online mad libs sites. Who doesn't want to be a published writer?

Online and Printable Mad Libs - Play mad libs now or print out a story for later

Since you're online now, the best place to start finding mad libs is right here on the web. Check out the links below. Some feature printable mad libs. Others can be played online. Many sites offer both options.

For third grade and up. This site has a hundred or so stories with new ones added monthly. (online mad libs only)

Mad Takes has 188 stories and you can even submit your own. (online and printable mad libs)

Most of these stories seem to be user submitted. The content of some stories might be tough for young kids, like the "Paris Hilton's Early Life Story" and "Low Budget Wedding Reception." You can play Word Libs online or print them out. (online and printable)

This site, mainly for teachers, has twelve free mad libs. Paid members of the site have access to 200 more. (free mad libs are online only; paid mad libs appear to be printable)

This site feature features printable mad libs for kids, mostly with seasonal and holiday themes. (printable mad libs only)

If the above links weren't enough, here is a page with links to several more mad libs pages including Winnie the Pooh and Tolkien themed stories. (links to many different pages--some printable and some online mad libs)

Official Mad Libs Books - The real thing

Why would you want to buy Mad Libs books when there are so many free stories online? There are a few reasons. First, all of the official mad libs stories make it across an editor's desk before being published. The quality of the writing is better than much of what you'll find online. Second, there is probably a themed Mad Libs book that will suit your child's interests perfectly. And third, it's just easier to throw a Mad Libs book into a backpack or the glove box than to find and print out copies to take on the road.

Comments welcome!

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