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Subject: Word games for a 5-year-old? rss

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Randy Cox
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Clemson
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Surely someone has come across this problem before.

Our daughter is 5 and loves to try to spell words. She also loves to try to figure out what word her parents are spelling when they do that parent thing of trying to obscure a sentence, like "If we do that Z-O-O thing...".

Anyway, she'll sit and type sentences, asking us for help on most words, for an hour at a time. But she isn't yet a reader. She's just started kindergarten. But she would love to play a word game (like mom and dad do).

So I got to wondering if there are any good word games that fulfill the following requirements:

- give credit for three letter words (e.g. Big Boggle is out)
- are quick
- have the letters oriented "properly" (ie, Boggle or Obscurity are out because she barely understands that there is a left-to-right, right-side-up orientation to words)

What have y'all had luck with?

Thanks.
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MMB
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This is a tough one Randy. My 7 1/2 year old, up to last year couldn't find the differently oriented words on those "find a word" puzzles.

Other than just letting her play informally with Scrabble tiles - maybe some type of house rules--I can't think of anything that would work at that non-reading age/stage!!

OK, I found this: My First Scrabble but I don't know much about it nor have we played this or any word games with her yet! It looks like it might work!

My daughter had a flip book that spelled 3-letter words when she was in kindergarten, she matched the background and got the word spelled correctly with the picture. We ordered it through Scholastic. She really enjoyed it!!

I know, I know, it's not a board game though!!!!!

OK, another non-board game suggestion. Has she tried Starfall? Their website is a wonderful reading resource for 5 year-olds and up. There are tons of fun activities for every reading (including non-reading) level.
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Rebekah B
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I've played a modified (shorter and semi-cooperative) Upwords with my kids when they were just beginning to read. It's a great one for developing literacy skills, because it shows how changing or adding a letter changes the word. I've also used What's GNU?, which is all three-letter words and can be played cooperatively or competetively, although a pre-reader would be unlikely to be competetive.

Letter tiles or magnets can be used to make simple games, too. I would play a game with my kids where I would build a three-letter word, then think of a word that changes just one letter. I'd give my kids a hint about what the new word is, then they would try to figure out what they had to change to make the new one. They loved that "Aha!" moment when they would figure it out, and it was a great way for them to build confidence in their word-building skills.
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Paul DeStefano
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Boggle.

Here's the mod:

All words worth 1 point.

Adults can only take words of 4 letters or more. Kids are allowed any length (yes, even 1). No dupe words.

If an adult has a word on their list that the kid does as well, the kid gets points. The adult does not.

Vary rules as needed.
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K Septyn
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It's not much of a game, more of a matching exercise, but Boggle Jr. might work. 3- and 4-letter words on an illustrated card, kids have to match the dice to the letters.
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W M Shubert
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I would recommend against Scrabble Junior. We have it, and it's a tedious game of matching letter tiles in your hand to preprinted squares on the board; no fun, and not much spelling practice either.

I think the idea of using Boggle but changing the scoring sounds like a good one. One gotcha is how kids (at least, my daughter) are taught to write these days: In Kindergarten and 1st grade, they are taught to write, but for a long time the are not corrected for spelling! As long as the approximate sounds are present, the teacher says "good job" and that's it. The idea is to first get them to spell phonetically, then start correcting them as needed until they spell things correctly. I bring this up only because if you had a game that required correct spelling, it may conflict with this teaching method somewhat.
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Noreen Walsh-Esrey
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Randy Cox wrote:
- give credit for three letter words (e.g. Big Boggle is out)
- are quick
- have the letters oriented "properly" (ie, Boggle or Obscurity are out because she barely understands that there is a left-to-right, right-side-up orientation to words)


Quiddler is the game you want.

You can actually win making nothing but three letter words. Points are awarded per letter, as well as bonus points for the longest word, and the most words.

It's played over rounds, so you can adjust the number of rounds to the attention span of the child.

It's a card game, so the letters are always going to be read left to right.

The only downside I can see is that the letters are taken from the Book of Kells, and she may have trouble identifying some of them. Easily solved by putting something like a rub off helvetica font letter on each one in the corner.

It's probably my favorite game in the world.





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Sue Hemberger

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Smart Mouth is probably the best -- just initial and final consonants. Good for vocabulary building if the adults define their words. Don't play by the rules -- just challenge each other, compete to come up with longer words, etc. The device (like a credit card charger) isn't really necessary (we play this in the car, alternating who chooses the letters), but younger kids think it's cool and it makes this more of a game for them.

My Word (and/or My Word Jr.) worked fairly well. We handicapped adults by letting them score only for longer words -- shorter words all went to the kids (and we relaxed the rules abit on how short they could be, I think).

We also played Boggle online (solving the orientation problem) as a team, with the best typist at the keyboard and everyone else yelling words out. Even neighbor kids loved this for some reason.
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mike hibbert
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We used to play a game called Ghost when I was a kid. It's great for spelling and "thinking outside the box". Even when we were knocked out by mum or dad, we still listened intently to learn!

Plus, you can play it anywhere! And it's free!
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Julie Taylor
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Waterloo
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Hi Randy, we recently got Hooked on Phonics: Pop Fox's Roll and Read for my 5 year old, and she seems to like it okay. It's hard isn't it, when they're just starting to read? The other one that I saw listed here that I thought looked good was Alphabet Zoop, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere to buy and try it out. BUT if you want an entirely different take on a word game, check out Alphabet Squiggle. It focuses on the shapes of the letters and being creative with them.

Best of luck
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W M Shubert
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I know it's late - but today I tried Boggle with my 6 year old. She loved it! We played co-op, where she would look for words, I would give hints when she was stuck ("The princess and the...", for example, then she had to guess the word and find it in the grid). She did great! Found a few words on her own, and a little help went a long way. I'd recommend trying it.
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