With a week of heavy testing looming (Content Based Assessments and Semester Finals for all students in nearly all subjects), I was looking for a way to let my students have fun in class after our testing days, all the while still learning.
I had a brilliant idea: A Scrabble Tournament! They could talk and interact with each other, they’d be using their brains, and they’d be working with words and vocabulary, something all students, I’ve found over the years, desperately need.
I promptly set about asking parents to donate games. They came rolling in and now I have an excellent collection.
The big day came this past Monday. The first thing I asked was how many kids had played Scrabble. A spattering raised their hands, but most did not. “Scramble?” some said. “No, Scrabble! No ‘m’.” It didn’t ring a bell until we made the connection to Words With Friends. Most have heard about that game, but the majority have also never played that game.
I set about giving instructions, going to far as set up a model game under the doc camera and showing what direction to put words, how to interconnect them, and just how to play. Instructions were also on chart paper nearby.
What I learned right out of the gate:
Many-and I do mean many-kids just didn’t ‘get’ it. They placed words in random places. They interconnected words in ways that created a lot of non-words. They put words backwards, diagonal, and upside down. They couldn’t spell even the most basic words sometimes. And they could not grasp the concept of rearranging their letter tiles to form letter patterns to help them see the possibilities.
It has taken some time, and a lot of restarts, but we’ve finally got it figured out. Or at least I *think* we do. Tomorrow is day two of our Scrabble playing.
Reasons why playing Scrabble should be an absolute MUST for all kids:
- Basic thinking skills. It forces kids to challenge their brain by forming words from random letters, something they find incredibly challenging.
- It is a real, tangible game rather than a video game. They’re not staring at their phones or hooked to their game system!
- Basic math skills. They have to figure out how to add their points, calculate double letter, triple letter, double word, and triple word scores.
- Strategic thinking. Aside from the basic task of figuring out words to play, they have to decide which is the BEST word to play, as well as WHERE to play it on the board to maximize their points.
- Strategic thinking, part 2. They have to plan ahead, holding on to certain letters in anticipation of a future play.
- Teamwork. Interaction with others and good sportsmanship are ongoing character traits we delve into. What I saw was kids helping kids. They had their tile holders side by side and were aiding each other in their word formation. This collaboration allowed them to figure out options together.
Scrabble is a great game. Get yourself a set of games and play with your students. It’s something we’ll do throughout the year, and something I hope my students will look forward to and develop a love of.