Monday, April 12, 2010

Phonics: It's In the Cards

Scrabble-now that is the perfect game. You may have heard or read recently about Mattel's announcement that it plans to release a spinoff of the classic board game. Scrabble Trickster, as it is called, will allow proper nouns, such as Britney or, one might presume, Waunakee-a mortal sin in old-school Scrabble. The uproar from orthodox Scrabble players was heard around the world. This upstart game, however, is only the latest variant that Scrabble's publishers have tried. Scrabble Up and Scrabble Junior never caught on. You can find very lightly used copies of them in resale shops but almost never of the original, which people hold onto like family heirlooms. Today we explore using one early variation on the classic. Scrabble Slam, as it's called, makes a great phonics activity for lessons with tutors.

This Week's Favorite Tutor (the title bestowed upon whomever brings a new idea that becomes a tutor tip) Steve Bentin was working with his learner recently at Literacy Network. I saw them slapping down cards, changing each other's words with their own cards. In the picture above you can see Andre about to change Steve's word PERT to PEAT. Changing one letter at a time makes it possible for players to practice reading word families. It injects elements of speed and competitiveness into the activity. The intensity around the players was palpable. And, best of all, both said they were having fun.

If you'd like to find a copy for yourself, click this link search for a new or used copy on They start at about six dollars. Otherwise, there's nothing stopping any tutor who wants to make their own hand-made cards to play the game. Play hard. Learn hard. Have fun. It is great to be a tutor.

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