Tag Archives: Boggle

Learning With Boggle

During our family camping trip, my mom brought along a Boggle game, one of my favorite games but one I hadn’t played in years. Though no one played it during the trip, it made its way to my house afterward, and my son John got it out. I told him briefly how to play, and he tried it out with his cousins who were visiting. They really enjoyed it.

Boggle is made up of 16 dice that have letters instead of dots. The dice fit into a container that can be shaken, and the letters then fall in a random order. The object of the game is to make as many words (three letters or more) from the dice, using only those letters that touch each other in some way, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Players have three minutes to find as many words as they can. Points are earned only when a player finds a word that no other player has found.

After most of our company had left, John asked me if I would like to play — he didn’t know I used to be pretty good at the game. My mom played too, and she is more knowledgeable about words than I am, having worked crossword puzzles for years. He was in for some tough competition.

Although I still sometimes let my six-year-old win a game, we didn’t let John (13 years old) win — he had to work for every point he got. Then Cassie joined in (11 years old), and naturally, she found even fewer words. While I wasn’t sure what their reactions would be to such a challenge, I was pleasantly surprised.

Round after round, Cassie came up with no points — someone else had found every word she did. Yet still she continued to play. It wasn’t until we had played about 15 rounds over two days that she finally got some points.

John, being older, did get more points, but he never scored as high as my mom or me. But he too, continued to try.

On the last day my mom was here, my daughter Lillie, age 9, joined the game. She found even fewer words, but she kept at it, too.

These past few days of playing Boggle have turned out to be great opportunities for learning. It was good to watch as the children learned:

*New words, as my mom came up with some old English terms and words none of us had ever heard of.

*Definitions, as we questioned her words and had to look them up

*How to correctly spell certain words

*Persistence, as all three of the kids kept at the game, even though they never won a round

*Sportsmanship, as they continued to play with good attitudes

Boggle has become a favorite game for our family. Perhaps it’s even time to break out Big Boggle.  🙂

Bringing back the fun

A couple of weeks ago, I was sorting through a box of old school items, and I found a reading bingo game I made for my oldest boy when he was still very small. Now I have another child learning to read, so I pulled it out, and we’ve played it a few times. She loves it, even though it’s made of scrap pieces of poster board.

Since then, I’ve found several other homemade items from long ago. How clever I used to be! So what happened to my creativity over the past five years or so?

Life happened, and I really am still creative. I made the game when I had just one young elementary student, and I wasn’t concerned with pre-algebra, latin, and essays. But the game was a good reminder: learning can be fun, no matter how old you are. Many board games are good resources – Boggle and Scrabble encourage spelling; Balderdash requires creative writing. Here are some other easy ways I’ve found to make learning more enjoyable:

1. Take a nature walk.
2. Plant some seeds in small containers. Place them on the windowsill and watch as they grow.
3. Go on a money hunt through the house. Count the coins you find.
4. Make supper together.
5. Write a letter or draw a picture and mail it to someone special.
6. At the grocery store, pick out 3 fruits or vegetables you’ve never tried before.
7. Put some objects in a paper bag. Have your children reach in, pick one up and feel it, then guess what it is.
8. Fold five pieces of copy paper in half and staple along the folded edge. Write a story or draw pictures in your homemade book.
9. Put on a play about your history lesson.
10. Using a camcorder, make a newscast about your family’s activities.