Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make Your Own Rules!

If you’re like most people, you probably have a word game or two sitting in a box somewhere in the dark corners of a closet. You know, the ones that have tiles with letters on them that you use to make words of varying point value? Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good, long game of Scrabble, or Boggle or any number of other similar games, but sometimes, you just don’t want to be so formal. Also, if you’ve got young children, like I do, these games are a bit over their heads.

I know that one of the most important things I can do as a mom is to foster a love of reading, learning and thinking in my children. And it’s no secret that making learning fun and game-like is the best way to do that. It’s also well-known that puzzles and critical thinking games develop their brains in a different way than do “non-thinking” games like tag or hide-and-go-seek.

One rainy day, we were hanging around the house, thinking of what we could do for fun. Nicholas found my box of Scrabble in the games cupboard and decided that he wanted to learn how to play. Well, at the time he was about 7 years old, and, while his vocabulary and spelling ability was well above the average for his age, I knew that he wasn’t quite ready for a full-fledged game.

So, I told him that I COULD teach him to play Scrabble, if that’s what he wanted, but I knew a SECRET way to play that was a lot more fun. That’s all I had to say and all three kids were jumping up and down, wanting to learn the secret game.

We dumped all of the tiles on the floor and each took 6 to play with. Then we made words that crisscrossed each other all over the room. After making a word, each child had to figure out how many tiles to take from the kitty in order to have 6 again. The goal of the game was to use up all of the tiles. When we got stuck, we looked at the words already on the floor and tried to find the extra letters we would need to make words from the tiles that were left over.

Not only did we improve our vocabulary and spelling, but we also did a bit of math, learned to focus on a task, and worked together as a group to achieve a goal. We laughed at the funny words, tried to outdo each other with the “strange” words and just overall had about the most fun we’d ever had on a rainy day.

Since then, this has become one of our favorite ways to spend an hour or two. When my children are a bit older, I’ll teach them the proper rules of Scrabble and other word games. But for now, we all love having our own secret game of words.


1 comment:

  1. You can call it Words with Kids! (there is a super popular similar game to Scrabble called Words with Friends). Love it Tamera!