Pre-writing activities disguised as games make it so much more fun to learn and practice skills. Depending on the activity, you can teach or reinforce spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and writing. One of my family’s new favorites, Speed Scrabble (also known as Boardless Scrabble), would be a terrific way to address both spelling and vocabulary.
Playing Speed Scrabble
- Place the Scrabble tiles face down in the middle of the table.
- Each player picks seven tiles. Someone begins the game by calling, “Draw!”
- Working as quickly as possible, players try to use up all seven tiles to create their own little Scrabble puzzle.
- The moment a player has used all his tiles, he shouts, “Draw!” and everyone must grab three more tiles.
- Throughout the game, players continue adding to their Scrabble layouts, rearranging them as often as needed.
- Once all the tiles have been taken, the first person to use all his tiles and complete his puzzle is the winner.
- Score the game just like in regular Scrabble. For example, if a player uses “X” for “fox” (vertically) and (“taxi”) horizontally, she will count the points for “X” twice. Deduct points for any unused tiles.
Tips and Variations
- If all players get stuck at one point, and no one can seem to complete a puzzle, agree to stop and draw more tiles. Continue playing as before.
- As the tile pile begins to dwindle, try to work with smaller parts of your puzzle rather than attempt to rework the entire arrangement. Remember that if the game ends before your puzzle is finished, unused tiles will count against your score!
- Decide in advance your rules for the game. Will you allow foreign words? Obscure words? Proper nouns?
- With mixed ages, you might allow younger children to use proper nouns.
- When playing with younger kids, players can grab one tile instead of three.
- Combine the tiles from several Scrabble sets to make a bigger pile on the table. You can often find old sets at garage sales. If they’re missing a few pieces, it doesn’t matter for Speed Scrabble.
- Give younger ones a handicap by doubling their final scores.
- Or, don’t count unused tiles against final scores.
- Or, don’t keep score at all. Simply admire one another’s puzzles and best words!
Copyright © 2011 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
Kim Kautzer is a regular contributor to TheHomeschoolMom blog. A veteran homeschooler, author, and conference speaker, Kim loves to help parents feel more confident about teaching writing. With a heart to inspire and equip apprehensive parents, Kim encourages homeschoolers that teaching writing is much more objective than they think, and that with the right tools at their fingertips they can lead and motivate their struggling writers. Award-winning WriteShop, her unique and successful writing program, has been honored as one of Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. Kim and her husband Jim homeschooled for 15 years. Two of their three children have graduated from Christian universities, and their son is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology. The Kautzers enjoy their passel of grandchildren and their sometimes-empty nest in Southern California. Kim blogs about writing at In Our Write Minds.