There are two versions of the game: Apples to Apples and Apples to Apples Junior. Depending on the age of your students, you may prefer one or the other. Apples to Apples is said to be for players ages 12 and up. Apples to Apples Junior is said to be for players ages 9 and up. The Junior edition has cards that are geared more toward younger players. I would recommend the Junior game for elementary age students and the regular Apples to Apples for middle and high school students, but I will let you make your own call on that. Both games are played the same.

I have come up with four games that you can use the Apples to Apples game for in the classroom. The games are Find Comparisons, Identify Nouns, Draw and Create, and Synonym, Antonym, Definition. Most of the games can be played with a variety of different age groups and level of students. All group sizes and amount of cards handed out are flexible and can be altered to fit the needs of your students.

Find Comparisons (This is the actual game of Apples to Apples.)

1. Have students get in groups of at least 4. (You can have as many in a group as you like. The more players, the more options for comparisons, but this could slow down the game. I would recommend anywhere from 4-8 players, but you know your students the best, so you can decide on the group size.)

2. Remove one red apple card deck and one green apple card deck from the box. Set the box aside.

3. The group picks a person to be the first judge and the judge deals out seven red apple cards to each player, including himself/herself. (Players may look at their cards.)

4. The judge then picks a green apple card from the top of the stack, reads the word aloud, and places it face up on the table.

5. Players, except for the judge, quickly choose the red apple card from their hand that best describes the word on the green apple card played by the judge. After the players choose their red apple card, they place it face down on the table near the judge.

6. The judge mixes the red apple cards so no one knows who played which card. The judge turns over each red apple card, reads it aloud, and then selects the one he or she thinks is best described by the word on the green apple card. The player of the selected red apple card is awarded the green apple card played by the judge.

7. To keep score, players keep the green apple cards they have won, on the table, until the end of the game.

8. The judge collects all of the red apple cards played during that round and discards them into the empty well in the box.

9. The card decks, and the role of judge, pass to the player on the left. The new judge deals enough red apple cards to bring each player’s hand back up to seven.

10. Play continues following steps 4-8 until someone has earned enough green apple cards to win the game.

Winning the Game:


Number of Players






Green Apple Cards Needed to Win







*These directions for game play came straight from the Apples to Apples game box.*

When playing Apples to Apples, the concept of the game is to make the best comparison, but you could go the other way and play the cards that are the most opposite, with the same rules as above.

Identify Nouns

(Using the Apples to Apples cards, you can have students categorize the red cards into person, place, thing; proper nouns, common nouns.)

1. Divide students into groups of 2-6.

2. Pass out a predetermined amount of red apple cards to each group. (Depending on the size of group you’ve chosen, the age level, and amount of time you want them working, I would give out anywhere from 20-60 cards.)

3. Have students work together to sort the cards into categories of person, place, or thing. Or you could have students categorize the cards into proper nouns and common nouns. (You may want to preselect these cards and have them already divided up for your groups. That way you know that each set has so many cards for each category.)

4. Once every student from the group agrees on the piles, the teacher will check their answers. (If you pre-selected the card groups, you could make up an answer sheet to give out to the groups as they finish and they could check themselves.)

*The groups could switch sets with each other for further practice.

*A twist to this would be to make this into a competition, having the groups race to categorize the red apple cards.

Draw and Create

1. Divide students into groups of 2 or 3. (This could also be done individually.)

2. Have each student pick two green cards and two red cards. (You can have students draw more cards for a longer story or more difficulty.)

3. The students should share cards and come up with a topic for a story that the drawn cards could be used in. (For example: If I drew the cards Talented, Animated, Pit Bulls, and Wheat and my partner drew the cards Duct Tape, Absurd, Going to Grandma’s House, and Idiotic, our story could be about an absurd adventure involving a talented dog that we saw while going to grandma’s house.)

4. Once the students have an idea of what their story will be about, students will write a short story trying to use as many of the cards as they can. The card words/phrases don’t have to be in every sentence, nor do they have to use multiple card words/phrases in the same sentence. It’s fine if they do, though. (Have students underline the words in their story to make it easy to see them. Some groups may not be able to use all the cards. The goal is that they are able to use all the cards and that the story makes sense.)

5. When the students are finished with their story, they should count up how many of the cards they used and put the total at the bottom of the page. (Example: In a group of 2, if they used all their cards, their total would be 8. If a group of 3 used all their cards, their total would be 12.)

6. Have students read their story to the class. The rest of the class will decide if the story makes sense, if the sequencing is correct, did they use their word cards correctly, did they include any dialogue, etc. (Whatever it is you want them focusing on in their writing.)

*Encourage students to be creative and to use whatever language topics you are working on in class. If you are working on using dialogue in a story, have students include that their story.

*For younger students, you may have them just draw one or two cards and write a sentence using it/them. Then have them illustrate the sentence.


1. Divide students into groups of 2 or 3. (This could be done individually or in larger groups.)

2. Pass out 10 green cards to each group. (You can always do more or less cards depending on your students.) **The green cards have synonyms already written on the bottom of the cards, so you may want to have one student lay them out and cover up the bottom with a sheet of paper or a folder. You could also cover them with a post-it before you pass them out.

3. Have students, working together, write down the synonym, antonym, and definition for each word card. This could be their best guess if they aren’t familiar with the word or no guess if they don’t know the word at all. (Example: If one of the words was Frazzled, students might guess nervous as one of the synonyms.)

4. Once the group has written a synonym, antonym, and definition for each word, they will work together to look up each word in the dictionary to see if they were correct. If they didn’t have something correct, they should write down the correct answer.

5. Students can add up how many they got correct. One point for each correct synonym, antonym, and definition. (Example: If my group had 10 cards and we got a synonym, antonym, and definition correct for each one, we would have a score of 30, 3 points for each card.)

*Groups can switch cards for another round.