Tag Archives: spelling

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.  🙂

Order in the Classroom!

gaveljanjpgThis school year, like many of our previous school years, has gotten off to a bit of a rough start. But I’m working on changing some things that hopefully will get things flowing a little more smoothly.

Recently, I read an article online that said homeschoolers sometimes have a difficulty with delayed gratification. They are often used to having a question answered right away, and they have the freedom to make comments during a lesson. Although I know this isn’t true of all homeschooled children, I can say it’s true of mine. They interrupt me if I’m reading a science or history lesson aloud, often saying something that has nothing to do with the subject. If I’m helping one with math or reading, the others are quite comfortable breaking in with a question about their own work.

I know it’s not the children’s fault — this is how I’ve been schooling the last few years. I used to feel like I was multi-tasking, answering a question for one while teaching a concept to another while handing out an assignment to a third. But I wasn’t really multi-tasking — we were just losing time, as nothing was being accomplished efficiently. So this year, I’m bringing more order in — for their sakes, and for mine!

For the first hour, I’m working with my Kindergartener while the other three work on their math. If they have a question about a problem, they just have to skip it and go on to the next one. Their math work will continue into the second hour, at which time I’m free for questions.

After math we’ll go into our group lesson of history or science. Then it’s back to individual work in Language Arts, giving me time again to help with grammar, spelling, and writing if necessary. Reading and music practice are subjects they can do on their own.

The next few days will be hard — reminding the children again and again that they will have to wait. But once they get used to the new plan, they’ll have an easier time with school — and I will too!