I’m right in the middle of sending some lovely learning to an online student when BANG…a new idea comes for a game, so I’m sharing it with you straight away. You will probably play it before us, as we are not skype-meeting until Friday. It’s amazing to think an idea might spread into the Learning Living-rooms of the world!
Words are slippery.
Some words can be nouns, some words can be verbs, while others still can be adjectives. Meanwhile, hundreds of words can be all of these word types and more.
They change form, become shape-shifting tricksters that turn up in multiple choice papers. For instance, which of these is the odd one out?
cut slice rip tear crevice crack
Only word-types will save you here! They are all nouns or verbs, except crevice, which is just a beautiful noun.
So…a game to play. First, choose a number that is on a dice you have. (You can use an online dice if you don’t have one to hand.) We’ll come back to this number shortly.
- Choose 10 words each that can be more than one word type. I found a wide selection here:
This site has a huge list of sentences that show the words in their different roles.
2. Write them as two lists. You don’t have to choose the same words. You could choose a word one at a time to prevent this, or make up a fun rule that if you both have the same word, you both have to do a bird impression or a press up if one of you lands on it- it’s totally up to you!
3. Roll a dice. (Lots of variations: 6-9 sided dice, 2 dice and 12 words, etc.)
4. Count down the list to the word. (Keep going down and up the list, or chart your own path, like jumping in 3s.)
5. Both of you write sentences that use your word in different ways. E.g. call as a noun and a verb. First to finish both sentences wins a point.
6. Remember your special number from the start? If you roll that number, you have a chance to battle for one of your opponent’s words.
7. Let’s say you choose your opponent’s word clean. Each of you write in secret, behind your hand, a sentence using that word in any way you want.
8. If you both use the word as the same word type in your sentences, e.g. as an adjective (Water is a lovely drink when clean; Auntie’s car was incredibly clean.), you win the word from your opponent.
9. But…if it is different, your opponent can choose one of your words and battle for it.
When that battle has played out, you continue taking turns to roll.
Your winner could be:
- the first person to have all the words;
- the first person to win 3 words;
- the person with the most words after 5-10 minutes. (Quite useful for keeping pace and also stopping the game running on.)
What’s the point of the game?
- Relationship building.
- Secret learning about words that are more than one word type, which could help in multiple choice language tests or comprehension.
- A warm-up to a writing lesson in which these multi-jobbing, slippery words are used on purpose to practise.
- A springboard to creating more games between you.
- A quick learning boost when there are 10 minutes to spare. Note: I challenge you to keep a dice close at hand throughout your child’s childhood. They are portable learning legends!
- Writing practice. You could set extra rules around the types of sentence you use. For example, your sentences need to be compound or complex, not simple. This reduces the risk of writing an over-easy sentence in order to finish writing first!
- The game element could make the learning more memorable. We often remember more of what is unusual. Think of a crowded street of people in ordinary clothes, among which strolls a lady in a yellow and purple suit, two golden walking sticks, one silver shoe and one welly which is filled with water. Who do you think you might remember from that street?
- If it’s fun, it can grow enthusiasm for the next learning session. You can repeat the game – your child might even ask to play it again, perhaps with a different rule. Sometimes, if a child is initially reluctant to start a learning session, I simply say, “We’re going to play a game,” and begin. I don’t call it a learning session. The appearance of a dice can be magical! Games can help enormously with those moments, whether they come at the start or the middle of a lesson.
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“Grow wherever life puts you.”Ben Okri