Tapple Review

Reading Apps

Dynamic, fast-paced and competitive, Tapple isn’t just a fun word game but can also be an effective and useful educational resource to help kids and even adults hone their vocabulary and creative language skills. 

What We Like

Not a lot of parts to store or keep track of
Fun to play
Good vocabulary practice tool
Can get kids thinking creatively about language
Sturdy, well-designed
Differentiated cards allow game to suit players
of different ages, abilities
High replay value

But watch out for

Timer function can stress some kids out
Requires some pre-requisite language ability,
general knowledge

What Is Tapple?

Tapple is a word game produced by USAopoly and is designed to test players’ vocabulary and recall skills. 

Centered around the Tapple Wheel, the game has players race to beat a timer by coming up with answers to category cards as fast as they can and before their opponents can beat them to the punch.

What Ages or Grades Is Tapple Intended For?

Tapple is designed for players ages 8+ or about grade 3 and up. 

The game expects players to have some general knowledge about the world around them and does require that they have a somewhat developed pre-existing vocabulary base in order to play fluidly as they will have to come up with relevant words based on a prompt. 

Interestingly, Tapple doesn’t require much in the way of spelling skills beyond knowing the first letter of any proposed word, a fact that can make it a pretty good fit for younger kids. 

With all that said, it is important to keep in mind that Tapple really is a skill- and knowledge-based game that really depends on a player’s ability to come up with words quickly across a number of different topics when prompted. 

Consequently, age and grade have less to do with it than one might expect and we feel that it can easily be played by younger, more verbal kids alongside the rest of their family as long as their general knowledge is up to it.

This is helped along by the differentiated topics printed on the word cards, which we will discuss below, as well as the fact that parents can always go through the deck and tailor it to their childrens’ needs and abilities. 

What’s Included In Tapple?

There are really two main components to Tapple, the Tapple Wheel and the Tapple Card deck. 

picture of tapple box

As a result, it is a fairly compact game that doesn’t include or involve a ton of pieces or moving parts, such as dice or player pieces, which in turn can make it easy for families of young children to deal with and can make it a little more portable. 

The Tapple Wheel

The centerpiece of the game, the Tapple Wheel is a round plastic device that comes in a blue, white and black design that we feel is a bit more sleek and modern looking compared to the red/yellow/turquoise design of previous editions. 

The wheel has 20 letter tabs that protrude from its side and that can be pressed down, representing all the letters of the alphabet except Q,U,V,X,Y and Z, which tend not to be as commonly found at the beginning of a word. 

close up picture showing tapple wheel letter tabs

There is also a large gray/white button at the top of the device, which acts to start the timer when pressed, as well as a few paddles around it that serve to release the letter tabs when pushed.  

picture of tapple timer button and reset tabs

By and large, we found the Tapple Wheel to be surprisingly sturdy, being made of pretty hard plastic, and the letter tabs felt quite solid and seemed like they could take a fairly good smack without breaking.

This is always a good thing when it comes to family games, particularly fast-paced ones like Tapple, as things can get a little heated at times (particularly if siblings are involved) and it is nice to know that the Tapple Wheel can stand up to boisterous play. 

Parents should know that the Tapple Wheel does take a couple batteries (2 x 1.5v AAs), which sadly aren’t included. 

Tapple Cards

In addition to the Tapple Wheel, the game comes with 36 Tapple Cards.

These cards are stored in a slot located on the underside of the Tapple Wheel, a clever design that precludes the need for a separate box or storage device (making it a lot simpler for parents to store the game) and makes it a lot less likely for cards to get lost over time. 

close up picture showing card storage area on tapple wheel

It also makes the game a lot more portable, which is always nice for families who like to take their board games with them on vacation. 

The Tapple Cards are relatively small, cardboard rectangles that touch on 144 different topics for which players will have to come up with words.

picture of tapple card deck showing different categories

In general there are a lot of different topics in Tapple.

Some topics are more directly educational, asking players to come up with authors, book titles, adjectives, animals, fish, metals and gemstones and so on. 

Others may be a bit more fun and are topics that kids (and adults) will find a bit more interesting to play around with, covering things like cartoons, athletes, movies, musical instruments and more. 

Consequently, parents can play around with and shuffle the game’s decks to maintain interest, which is always nice. 

These topics are printed directly on the card, meaning there are 4 topics printed on each card (2 per side). 

The topics are color coded, with blue and black on one side and gray and light blue on the other. 

These broadly represent different difficulty levels and age-appropriate topics, which allows the game to be set up to suit and interest older and younger players a little more easily.

It also can help prevent repeats as players can go with a different color code for each game, extending the replay value of Tapple by quite a bit. 

One thing parents of younger kids should keep in mind is that, although they are printed nicely and quite well-thought out and designed, the cards are made out of fairly standard card stock. 

Consequently, they may have to keep an eye on things, particularly during heated games or when snacks are involved, to make sure that the cards don’t get folded, torn or stained. 

How It Works

For the most part, Tapple is a pretty straightforward word game that supports up to 8 players. 

The overall idea of the game is for a player to come up with a word in response to a card prompt, pressing the tab that corresponds to the first letter of that word, before the timer runs out and to ultimately collect three cards.

The game starts off by establishing player order.

The game’s instructions recommend that the player whose middle initial is closest to “A” go first, but the order of player turns can be set up pretty much in any manner or by chance. 

To begin, the first player draws a Tapple Card.

As we’ve mentioned previously, each card has four potential categories printed on it in different colors, with blue and black being easier and more appropriate for younger kids and light blue and gray/white being a bit more challenging.

Should a player find themselves with a category marked “Player’s Choice” then they can make up a topic for that round.  

To start a round, the player who drew the card presses the button located at the top of the Tapple Wheel, starting a 10 second countdown timer. 

They then have 10 seconds to come up with a relevant and correct word that fits that category and press the tab whose letter corresponds to the first letter of their chosen word, which resets the timer and passes the turn to the next player.

That player then has 10 seconds to come up with a word for the category and press an appropriate tab.

It is important to note that each time a tab is pressed it takes that letter out of play for that round, so with each successful turn players have a decreasing number of letters that they can use to come up with words for a given category. 

If the first player picks up the category “Awards” and uses “Golden Globes” (pressing the G tab down as they do so), then the next player cannot choose “Grammy” or “Gold Medal,” for example. 

Similarly, as each round is centered around a single category topic, it is likely that the most commonly known and obvious words will be used first, making things a lot harder for players during successive turns. 

Should a player not come up with a word in under 10 seconds, should they hit the wrong letter or should they provide an answer that doesn’t match a given category they are eliminated. 

The round ends when all players but one are eliminated, and the winning player receives that category card as a trophy. 

The game ends when a player wins three cards.

Should all the letters be pressed but a winner is yet to emerge, the game goes into overtime. 

In overtime, the players reset all the letters, draw another category card and then have to provide two answers (and use two letters) in under 10 seconds. 

The winner of an overtime game stands to win both category cards. 

If a winner still doesn’t emerge, then the game goes into double overtime, a situation where players have to give three answers in under 10 seconds (and have the potential to win 3 cards and, thus, the game). 

Educational Benefits of Tapple

Much like some other family games we’ve seen, such as Prime Climb and others, Tapple does actually have a number of educational benefits that parents might be interested in. 

Promotes active recall of existing vocabulary

Active recall is the process of deliberately searching your memory to access specific knowledge in order to find an answer to a problem or question.

Active recall involves the process of bringing information from a person’s long term memory to their short term or working memory, and can be an excellent way to prevent it from being lost or forgotten over time. 

The core mechanism of Tapple, which has players try to find words that start with a particular letter and that fit into a broad category, is a great example of active recall in action and can be an excellent way to help students strengthen their general vocabulary knowledge. 

It also has the effect of strengthening the connection between different words and their relationship to various concepts. 

With a little creativity and work, Tapple can easily be integrated into vocabulary lessons, replacing flashcard work and even list quizzes with something a little more enjoyable but that broadly serves the same purpose. 

Promotes language creativity

At the same time, as Tapple removes letter options as it goes and as the most common words will most likely be taken early on, players are frequently challenged to quickly stretch their vocabulary to find unusual or uncommon words that will help them win rounds. 

So long as they stay within the category, players are rewarded for their flexibility and creative language use. 

Further, the active recall process outlined above can help students strengthen their ability to remember and deploy uncommon and/or unusual words, something that can enrich their spoken language and improve their writing and communication skills. 

Can help students learn new words

Finally, by playing with others, particularly with adults or older kids, Tapple can introduce kids to a variety of new words.

As they play competitively, students can hear novel responses to category questions, which can ultimately help them expand their own vocabulary.

Parents interested in doing so may wish to record or have someone write down interesting responses, which kids can look up and study later as part of a lesson or enrichment exercise. 

Our Thoughts

With its high-speed action, resource elimination and competitive gameplay,  we feel that Tapple can be a lot of fun to play and be a useful resource for homeschools and those interested in learning at home.

With its timer, letter tabs and race-like feel, the game can be surprisingly engrossing, getting kids to practice their vocabulary recall skills and creative thinking without it being too obvious about it or feeling like a language arts drill session. 

Further, the diversity of categories offered by the Tapple Cards, some of which are educational and some just for fun, ensures that kids will usually have something interesting to work with, which should improve the game’s engagement factor and replay value. 

The game rounds can also be quite quick, usually only spanning a few minutes, and a full game can often be played in under a half-hour.

This not only makes the game a lot less intimidating but can also make it easier to schedule and work with, especially for busier families and kids with packed schedules. 

Perhaps more than that, we appreciate how Tapple can really encourage creative language use and get kids thinking of more uncommon and/or unusual words. 

As the number of available letter tabs quickly decreases with each player’s answer, kids will be forced to stretch the limits of their vocabulary in order to find a suitable answer and continue playing. 

On the downside, Tapple does require that students do have some general knowledge and familiarity with the categories it touches on, as well as enough of an existing English vocabulary in order for the game to not quickly become frustrating when playing against gifted kids, older kids or adults. 

Parents should also be aware that the timer-based nature of the game can cause some kids to stress out, which can lower the educational and enjoyment factor of the game over time.  

Parents of these kids may wish, then, to use the game with the timer turned off. 

Pros and Cons



Unlike many other family games, Tapple doesn’t require the use of dice, figures or a lot of other pieces that need to be stored and kept track of. 

Consequently, the game is a lot more compact and, as its cards store neatly away in its body, easier to manage than many other board game options out there. 

Fun to play

Tapple is a fast-paced, competitive, creative and challenging word game that is lot of fun to play and can certainly get players’ hearts racing. 

Great way to practice vocabulary

By getting players to think up various words to fit different categories, Tapple encourages active recall of their vocabulary, which can ultimately strengthen their language skills in the long run. 

Can get kids thinking creatively about language

At the same time, due the nature of its gameplay, Tapple encourages kids to really stretch their vocabulary skills to find uncommon and unusual words to fit certain topics. 

Sturdy and well-designed

The Tapple Wheel and its tabs are made of sturdy plastic and should stand up to even relatively boisterous gameplay pretty well. 

Further, the games cards are color coded, touch on 144 different categories and store neatly and conveniently away in the Tapple Wheel body. 

Cards can be differentiated to suit different players’ knowledge and skill

Tapple’s cards are also differentiated, offering easier and more challenging categories that can be used to adapt the game to players of different ages or language fluency, which we  always appreciate. 

High replay value

As Tapples cards contain so many different categories, because player responses can be so varied and because the gameplay can be so fast-paced and exciting, there is a good deal of replay value to the game in our opinion. 


Timer function can be stressful for some kids

While many kids and adults can find it an exciting challenge, the 10 second time limit to come up with a word and hit the appropriate letter tab can be a bit anxiety-inducing for some kids, which can reduce the game’s fun factor over time. 

Does require some language ability and general knowledge to play effectively

Tapple is a game that requires at least some familiarity with the English language and the wider world, which means that it can be a little more challenging or even frustrating to younger kids and ESL students. 

Who Is Tapple Ideal For?

Kids who hate traditional vocabulary drill

Tapple’s high-speed, competitive gameplay and wide variety of word categories can mask the fact that it does get kids practicing their vocabulary, making it an interesting alternative to flashcards, quizzes and other forms of vocab drill. 

Families who love language and competitive word games

With its open nature, wide variety of category cards and timer-based competitive  gameplay, Tapple is a fun and exciting example of a word game that can be a great option for families who enjoy these kinds of activities. 

Fans of race-against-the-clock games

Tapple’s gameplay is centered around a 10 second timer, which can up the pressure for players to a fair degree, making it ideal for fans of race-the-clock games. 

Those who enjoy thinking creatively about language

As Tapple’s letter tabs cannot be reused in a given round and as there are so many different category possibilities, the game really gets players to stretch the limits of their vocabulary in order to come up with answers and stay in the game. 

Families with kids of mixed ages

Tapple’s differentiated category cards allow the game to be scaled up and down in terms of difficulty, allowing it to be freely used by kids of all ages and their parents. 

Who Is It Not Ideal For?

Kids with weaker ELA skills, vocabularies and general knowledge

Although it can be a lot of fun, Tapple does require players to have a fair vocabulary and familiarity with the topics it presents in order to progress through rounds. 

Those are are prone to stress and anxiety when faced with time-pressure

Although it can certainly be turned off, a central component of the game (and what makes it fast-paced and exciting) is the Tapple timer. 

While the 10 second limit should get most players’ hearts pumping, it can be a bit too stressful for some players. 


Note: Prices correct as of writing, all prices in USD. 

Tapple is sold in a wide range of retailers and its price really depends on where it is purchased. 

In general, however, it tends to be sold for between $20-30. 

As always, those interested in the game should check for its latest price, as well as for any discounts or offers that may be available. 

Is It Worth the Price?

Ultimately, we feel Tapple can be a very fun and educational game for families. 

The game is quite fast-paced and competitive and can really get players thinking quickly in order to come up with sometimes unusual or uncommon answers to category prompts. 

As a result, it can serve as excellent vocabulary practice and can help those who play it become more fluid and even creative with their spoken language use. 

Finally, as there are 144 categories and several difficulty levels to choose from, there is quite a bit of replay value built into this game, which means it can deliver greater value for money.

Bottom Line

Dynamic, fast-paced and competitive, Tapple isn’t just a fun word game but can also be an effective and useful educational resource to help kids and even adults hone their vocabulary and creative language skills. 

Picture of our author and editor Anne Miller

About the Author

Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.