I teach children from about 7 to 15 years old. I sometimes play Words in a Word with my classes, and the response is generally very good. It's a good game to get kids thinking of all the vocabulary they have learned. I'm running out of fresh words to use, however. My students range from beginner to low intermediate. I need some new words that, a) have enough letters to make the game interesting and, b) are widely known or easily explained to lower level students.
Here are three examples of words that yield a lot of words and meet the criteria in b) above: kindergarten, grandfather, and pathfinder. Kindergarten, having i-n-g within it, makes for a great game when children see they can spell out long words like "taking".
Does anyone have any favourites of their own, or know where I can find a list of good words for this game?
Yes, the word lists are a good idea. I've been browsing the Dale-Chall List of Simple Words. High frequency words with lots of letters are what I'm after, and this list has plenty of them. Scanning a couple of thousand words is a lot less daunting than plowing through a 60,000 word dictionary! I'll report back on any really good words I come across.
I like Boggle, and I often play it online. I hadn't seen the site you linked to. Thanks for that. As for using Boggle in the classroom -- I'm a little hesitant. I may try it with the two small groups of intermediate kids I have on Saturday. These groups have less than 10 students, and they can probably understand how the game is played if work out my instructions carefully. The bulk of my classes have 35+ public school children with pretty basic English skills - not to mention the collective attention span of a gnat ;) I also need to be able to quickly verify that their words are correct, and that might be too challenging for me. If I can't check the words at about the same rate they spit them out, they'll eat me alive.
Thanks for your suggestions,
I haven't taught young learners for many years, but I have fond memories of using Boggle when I did.
The web has provided me with a source for good words to be used in Words in a Word (WIAW.)
The website www.wordplays.com has both the WIAW game, and a tool for extracting all the dictionary words from a word -- or any string of characters. The WIAW tool will generate a list of possible words from 3 to 12 characters in length (user selectable).
The input can be any string of up 16 letters. My method for finding suitable words to use with my students is as follows:
- enter a combination of vowels an consonants that seems likely to yield a lot of words
- Set the minimum number of letters for the results to 10
- Look through the relatively short list of resulting long words for words that are known to the students, or ones that are easily taught (esp. compound words)
- Bonus Step: Enter your chosen WIAW word into the word generator with the minimum number set to actual game level (3, in my case) to provide a printout of all the possible words
Using computing power to solve this problem is great. Instead of searching for words, I can ask the computer to build words with my chosen letters. If I want to tie into the pronunciation part of my lesson, I can include combinations like "th" or "ck" in my string and give an additional opportunity for students to practice these sounds.
Here's an example. I input this string: ingckearplutwob
The machine spits out 35 words of 10 or more characters, many of which are very obscure, but among the results are:
For my example, I will choose "bracketing" because I want students to use "ing" in their solutions. I can explain bracketing, as in, using parentheses, very quickly on the board. I then plug "bracketing" into the input end of the word generator with the minimum letter count set to 3. I see that there are 498 possible dictionary words, including many which my students may know, from "ant" to "breaking".
My apologies for the long post. I promise you that it's quicker to do than to explain.