Episode 346 – Room to Grow: Word Games Edition

Room to Grow: Word Games
Room to Grow: Word Games

Word games are great! But not everyone can play Scrabble. We tackle a few word games that can grow with your family.

346 Fact

A sad one about the 737 Max plane crashes.

Sponsor Message

First Move Financial is a financial services firm started by Donnie Carpenter, and his focus is to help normal families work with their finances. This isn’t just investing, it can include investing, but also spending every dollar wisely, knowing when to transition from debt payments to making other important purchases. But mostly, it’s about intelligently navigating the money world. Donnie is a board gamer just like us, so he completely understands the shelf of shame (shelf of opportunity!) You can go to firstmovefinancial.com/FamilyGamers to find out more.

What We’ve Been Playing

Hickory Dickory (from Plaid Hat Games – our review)
Dice Hunters of Therion (from Amigo – review coming soon)
Jekyll vs Hyde (our review)
Blob Party (from WizKids – review coming soon)
Power Failure (from Artana/Genius Games)
Avant Carde (prototype from Resonym)
The Root Beer Float Challenge (from Gray Matter Games – our review)

Monthly Report: May

Andrew: 25 plays of 19 games. H-index 2: Pollen, Busy Beaks, Illiterati, Unmatched, Catch the Moon, and Yokai Sketch.

Anitra: 33 unique games to complete May unique game challenge! H-index 3: Busy Beaks, Pollen, Illiterati, Yokai Sketch, Math Rush, A Gentle Rain.

Welcome new members

Stop in to our Facebook community and say hi!

Busy Beaks

SNAP Review – Busy Beaks

Grab sets of matching Australian birds in this flexible card game by Phil Walker-Harding.

Watch the video or read the transcript of our review.

Room to Grow: Word Games

Word games can be a ton of fun, stretching your brain for ways to make letters fit together, and exercising your vocabulary.

But they can also be really hard. Kids have a smaller vocabulary and aren’t used to re-mixing letter combinations, so they are almost always at a disadvantage when compared to their parents.

“If you want to play word games with your kids, you’re going to have to wait a LONG time before they are ready to play adult-y word games.”

Our goal with Room to Grow is to bring your kids through a series of games that grow in complexity. Normally, we take a beginner game, an intermediate game, and an advanced game. They offer a plan for growth for players to get comfortable with that mechanic.

But this time, we have two games in each category, serving different purposes and playing to different strengths.

For Beginners: What Starts with That Letter? Anomia Kids and Tapple

Anomia Kids is a word game that has NO letters at all. But that’s actually part of the point! Come up with words that start with the same sound as the pictures. It’s a perfect word game to play with beginning readers, identifying sounds. Spelling is not important, and the pictures allow for a lot of flexibility. Read our review of Anomia Kids for more.

Dip a toe into spelling with Tapple. You only need to know what letter a word starts with. You need to come up with words that fit a category, and you can’t use words (or starting letters) that other players have already used. Although players can be knocked out, kids will tend to watch and listen when it’s not their turn, learning more vocabulary and strategy. Like Anomia Kids, this is a “shouting” game, so there’s not much fine motor skill needed. Watch or read our review of Tapple for more.

A Little More: Make Whole Words with Bananagrams and Illiterati

Both of these games involve moving letter tiles around to create whole words.

Bananagrams comes up a lot on the podcast because it’s so open-ended. Kids learn that you can make lots of different words with the same letters, and you don’t have to stay fully committed. Figure out a better use of your letters? Take words apart and re-form them! There’s also a spatial reasoning puzzle involved, combining letters in multiple directions.

Unfortunately, players with larger vocabularies will have a distinct advantage in Bananagrams, and it’s hard to handicap it to level the playing field.

How about a cooperative game instead? In Illiterati, you want to use all your letters. But you can share them with the rest of the players, and even help each other make words. Every player will also need to fulfill words that meet an individual goal.

There’s a little bit of theme added to Illiterati – you’re trying to create books and defeat the evil “illiterati”; we love how this theme ties to the word game without getting in the way or slowing it down. We wouldn’t play this with a beginning reader, but any kid who can handle chapter books should be able to play and contribute meaningful choices in this cooperative game.

Advanced Word Games for Serious Competitors: I Can Make Better Words Than You, with Wordsy and Paperback

Wordsy is a word game by Gil Hova that’s stripped down to essentials – make big words that use the available letters and try to get the most points. Do it quickly, because the first player to finish their word gets a bonus! Unfortunately, Wordsy is currently out of print. You can probably find a used copy if you’re interested.

Want even more “game” in your word game? Paperback is a word game that’s also a deck-building game! Draw a hand of cards from your deck; make a word with some or all of those letters, worth some amount of money, which you immediately use to buy more letter cards (with powers to use in future rounds). You also have the option to buy wild cards, which do not help you get money, but are the primary source of end-game victory points. Paperback is also available as as a mobile app, and a new 10th anniversary edition coming soon.

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The Family Gamers is sponsored by First Move Financial. Go to FirstMoveFinancial.com/familygamers to learn how the team at First Move Financial can help you pile up the victory points.

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