We are big fans of using games for learning. Okay, honestly, the kids are big supporters of playing games and having fun. I love that there’s learning going on while we’re having fun, and that they graciously ignore that fact. It’s a good situation for us all. It’s Gameschooling!
Spelling lessons are not always greeted with the most positive of attitudes. Though much of the resistance to spelling lessons has been lifted through the use of copywork and dictation, as well as the curriculum from All About Learning Press, aptly called All About Spelling.
So, if I’m able to find a fun and creative way to get some spelling practice in, you can imagine how happy I am with such a find.
That’s where the game Word on the Street Junior from Educational Insights comes in. I was fortunate enough to find it during one of my game searches.
This game actually has several different learning opportunities, as most games do. There is the spelling component, which I’ve mentioned. But there’s also development of categorizing skills, cooperative learning, strategy, and social skills.
To play the game, you need two teams. You can put as many people as you like on each team based on your needs and the number of people you have available to play.
Each team takes a turn in drawing a card. They read the category that is printed on the card. Some examples of categories include “something fun”, “something found in the garden”, and “a school supply”.
The opposing team flips the timer. During that time the team “on the Street”, the one that chose the card, starts brainstorming words that would fit the category. Before time is up, the team must choose the one word that they will use.
One player from the team “on the Street” is chosen to move the letter tiles on the board to spell the chosen word.
I really like the rules for this part.
- First of all, there is no time limit to spelling the word.
- Secondly, the person moving tiles is not left alone. Everyone on the team is allowed to help spell the word correctly.
- Third, use of a dictionary is specifically allowed by the game rules.
It’s a no pressure spelling experience.
It makes spelling fun!
Now, as a family we typically adapt games as needed. But these rules do help to stem any arguments from anyone feeling compelled to follow written rules on a particular day.
The tiles are moved to the side of the team “on the Street” as needed to complete the spelling of the chosen word. The letters are read aloud as they are moved.
The goal of the game is for one team to capture eight of the individual letter tiles. Once a letter has been moved off of the board, it has been captured, and will not return to the board.
It’s a game of tug-of-war with letters.
Now, the other team gets to go and they repeat all the steps followed by the first team. When they decide upon their word, it’s important to note which letters have been moved to their opponent’s side. Coming up with a word that will allow your team to move the tiles back to your side is an important consideration. Choosing a word which uses the same letter multiple times is a great way to gain letters. Letters that have been captured are still allowed to be used in the word that is being spelled, they just aren’t moved any longer, and remain with the team that captured them.
The board is nicely illustrated. The letter tiles are colorful. There’s nothing overly distracting about the design, just enough to make it visually interesting.
I love hearing the words that everyone comes up with to include in the categories. They can be very creative. Best is hearing the argument to include some of the words, some of which are a stretch for inclusion.
I also like that it helps tone down some of the competitiveness for some of the highly competitive individuals in my family. By working with a team, they find value in including the ideas of others and seeing them succeed in the spelling challenge, as it benefits the team that it be spelled correctly. The silliness in shouting out words for the categories, also helps to keep the game lighthearted.
But my favorite thing about this game is the learning value.
So, there’s a tactile component in moving the letters, auditory in saying and hearing the letters, and the obvious visual component. There’s some serious learning strategies in this game!
The game recommends the age range of seven to adult, but this is easily a game that the entire family can play.
Calling out items for the categories doesn’t require reading skills, and since spelling is a team endeavor, the youngest can be helped to identify letters and spelling.