Post Tagged with: "15-minute ideas"
Best of all, this game is electronic, which will make kids like it even more.
Taboo is a popular board game–Taboo Buzz’d is an electronic version of it. You have to get your partner(s) to say a certain word. But you’re not allowed, yourself, to say any of the four “taboo” words.
Here’s an example: Try to get someone else to say sandcastle but you can’t say beach, pail, water or moat. Or blend but you can’t say colours, mix, combine or together.
It’s pretty difficult — and fun. And with the electronic (“Buzz’d”) version it’s super-simple, which
means kids can concentrate on the words and the synonyms and the game play without any distractions.
How to play
You press the big orange button on the hand-held unit to start the game. A screen gives you the word plus four taboo words. If your teammate guesses the word, you press the orange button again. If you just can’t get them to guess your word, you can press the “pass” button. And if you accidentally say a taboo word, you press the big purple “taboo” bar on the top of the unit and your team loses a point. Each round continues with six games. The unit keeps track of the scores for two teams.
The reason the game is so good is that they’ve chosen really appropriate “taboo” words. It’s pretty difficult to think of a way to play the game without using those words. And of course, that’s where all the fun is. “Oops! I said necklace!”
Taboo Buzz’d is most fun when you’re playing with teams of two or more, but my son and I were even able to just play it ourselves, albeit the scoring was kind of wonky but that was fine. The game is aimed at kids 13 and up, but I think younger kids would find it fun. You could modify the rules so that younger kids had to use the taboo words. It would still be silly and fun–and they’d be reading.
Taboo Buzz’d by Hasbro, age 13+, 1,000 words per unit, requires three AAA (not double-A) batteries and they’re not included, so make sure you pick some up when you buy the game. It sells at Toys R Us, Amazon, etc., for about $22. Worth it.
On a different topic: I apologize for the backwards apostrophe in the headline of this article. I can’t get it to go the right way. Frustrating.
uKloo is a terrific literacy game. Incredibly–wonderfully–they somehow managed to top it.
Toronto game-maker Doreen Dotto recently launched uKloo, Riddle Edition.
The premise of uKloo is simple—it’s a treasure hunt. You (the parent) hide cards around the house that kids find and which lead them to the next clue.
For instance, the first clue is “look in your shoes.” The child goes to her shoes and finds the next card, which says “look on the kitchen table,” and so on.
It’s a brilliant strategy to get kids reading because it gives the child a fun reason to read (they want to find the next clue) as well as an instant reward (they find out where the next clue is hidden, and ultimately a grand prize). Fun + reason to read = reading.
Dotto has taken this simple equation and made it even more fun. And she’s added problem-solving to the skills the child will acquire without even knowing they’re learning.
With the Riddle Edition, kids find a card and have to solve a fun riddle to figure out where the next card is hidden.
Depending on the age of the child, the riddles are very easy or quite challenging.
A level three riddle: “Not of shell, of turtle or snail, but made of cloth to hike a trail.”
Did you get those? The answers are at the bottom of this post if you want to double-check.
The wonderful thing about uKloo is the way Dotto has adapted it for various reading levels. If the child can’t figure out a clue, she can get a hint: “Lather up for shiny locks!”
If she still can’t quite get it, she can hold a special booklet (in which the answers are written backwards) up to a mirror and find the answer reflected there.
Three levels of clues, a hint and a fun solution give kids the success that is so important for new or struggling readers.
And with different levels, brothers and sisters of different ages or reading abilities can play together. It’s also great for playdates.
As with the original uKloo game, the Riddle Edition ends with a surprise that the parent provides. It could be a chocolate or small toy, or—as Dotto found out from one parent—it could be the announcement that the child is going to have a new baby sister.
uKloo Riddle Edition includes blank cards so parents can write their own riddles (Dotto provides tips on writing riddles) and it includes Surprise cards so that instead of a toy or candy the grand prize could be “a trip to the ice cream store” or “pillow fight with daddy.”
If uKloo is one of the most perfect literacy games, uKloo Riddle Edition takes it one step further. Both are must-get games for any parent who wants to get their kids reading.
You can also check out the new uKloo Early Reader App, currently free (that may change) in the iTunes App Store.
Read my review of uKloo here.
Oh, and I’m sure you figured out that answers are: Shampoo and Backpack.
Lastly, Doreen was on Dragon’s Den. Guess what happened? Check it out:
Monkey GO Happy, Guess? is an odd game, yes it is.
But it’s fun. Kids’ll like it.
And you can’t deny, it’s all about words.
The online game is one of a series of simple, quirky word games by PencilKids.
In Monkey GO Happy, Guess? (the spelling and punctuation of its name belie its oddness) you have to figure out what word is needed, based on a picture clue.
For instance, a picture of a STAR plus a picture of a FISH would equal STARFISH.
The clues get progressively stranger, albeit not necessarily much more difficult, as you proceed.
Every time you get one right you earn coins.
Underlying all of the oddness is oddly catchy music, bonus games in which you have to figure out roman numerals based on clues, the occasional brainteaser plus the chance to use your accumulated coins to buy mini-prizes (a trampoline, a car) for the little monkeys at the bottom of the page.
It’s all very odd, but fun. And word-oriented.
The link for this game is via Bart Bonte‘s excellent online casual games page.
You can search his site for the other Monkey GO Happy games.
In Must Pop Words, letters – inside bouncy balls – fall down and accumulate at the bottom of the page.
You have to type words using the letters. Every word you type erases those letters. If the letters pile up to the top of the page (which they will inevitably do) you lose.
Little tasks like, “create a word ending with e” or “create a six-letter word” let you earn extra points.
The balls bouncing around and the cute penguin who sticks his head in every once in awhile make this a signature Bart Bonte game – one of a series of elegant, fun games you can find on his website. (In my opinion, Bonte is the best casual game designer on the Internet.) Enjoy!
Play Must Pop Words here.
She would scatter letters around the room. Each letter had a price on it.
“Easier” letters like E might be worth a penny or five cents, whereas “harder” letters like Q or Z might be worth a quarter.
(Are you seeing where this is going?)
The kids would run around the room, collecting the letters; they would then put them together into words or phrases.
Then they’d add up the “money” they’d earned and… cash them in, using their parents as the bankers.
My niece said the game succeeded in making her friend much more interested in words and in reading.
And, presumably, in banking.
Here’s another case in which a mom successfully bribed her daughter into reading.
I’m excited! The illustrations are by Jan Dolby and it’s published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.
I’ll be doing some readings in schools, book stores and at Word On The Street to publicize the book.
I sewed and stuffed some fabric letters to use during the readings. It occurred to me that letters like this are also great for new readers, since they can hold them and make words out of them. Making letters and words tactile for kids is a terrific way to get them reading.
There are lots of ways you can do this without making your own fabric letters (trust me, it’s a lot of work). You can use Scrabble tiles, foam letters from the dollar store, letter dice from a game like Jr. Boggle or Alphabet Scoop, or you can cut out letters or words from magazines.
Studies show that kids who read during the summer jump back into school with a head-start.
Kids who take the summer off (reading, that is), often tend to find September a bit of a struggle.
So for all kinds of reasons, it’s good to keep your kid reading during the summer.
Some of my best memories are of going to the tiny library near our cottage and loading up with a week’s worth of books.
But what if your kid isn’t a super-voracious reader?
Here are some tips:
* See if your library has a summer reading program. Here’s an example. They typically bundle reading incentives into the program – it works! And if you live in Canada, here’s a link to TD’s summer reading club.
* Plan on a quick trip to the library at least once a week. Even if your kid takes out one book, it’s worth it.
* Use books on CD (or MP3) to replace TV time.
* An ebook by the dock? Why not? (Just don’t drop the Kindle in the water…)
* Outdoor time can be reading time. Check out this outdoor literacy suggestion for active kids.
* Alternative reading material counts! Comic books, magazines, ebooks, books on CD… all better than mind-numbing video games.
* Buy your child a book, wrap it up, and hide in in their bed as a bedtime surprise. It’s not a school night, so sure you can stay up and read for a while longer!
* If you’re really serious about breaking some rules for a good cause, include a flashlight with the book you give your child. They’ll figure out pretty quickly that it’s fun to “fool your parents” into thinking you’re sleeping, when you’re really reading in bed with a flashlight. (Of course, you’re one step ahead of them.)
Phrazzle Me! is essentially 200 blocks of wood with words imprinted on them.
The simplest way to play the game is to take seven blocks (each block has four words to choose from) and make a sentence. The next person builds on your sentence, going up and down or across. You get a point for every block you use.
If a phrase doesn’t make sense (“The table barked”) you lose a point.
But Phrazzle Me! (“phrase” + “puzzle”) can go beyond just game-play. If you’re teaching ESL, you can take the game in lots of different directions.
For one thing, the words are colour-coded. For instance, green is “to be” and gerunds “-ing words.” Red is “to have” and past participles.
Now, people who already speak English will probably stop right there. Because in North America, most people don’t know their gerund from their modal–that’s just not the way we normally like to learn languages.
But in most of the rest of the world, teachers and students are very familiar with past participles and auxiliary verbs, and are quite comfortable learning that way.
So for them especially, Phrazzle Me! can be a tremendous teaching tool.
For instance, the teacher can take just the question words, the auxiliary verbs and the subjects and then tell the students to make questions using this format:
Question + auxiliary + subject + verb.
“Where are they flying?” Boom, that’s a great question with every word in the right order.
You can easily change the rules. If you’re working on gerunds, make them worth double the points. If you’re working on past tense, make that key to the game. Let students take more or fewer blocks.
Phrazzle Me! is elegantly designed and sturdy. There’s no board; players set up the game on any flat surface. And it includes a draw-string bag that holds the pieces afterwards.
The game can be played without a moderator, but it works much better when a teacher is involved who decides if phrases are correct or not. It’s designed to provoke discussion and a long-term understanding of English.
We played Phrazzle Me! with our family and found that it can be quite challenging. It just goes to show how complex and difficult the English language is, even for native speakers.
$100 UPDATE: $79.99 a game (which includes shipping) it’s not in the same pricing ballpark as most just-for-fun games. But this is the kind of game an ESL teacher would buy and use throughout her career because it will last forever.