A few weeks ago, my 14 year old son asked me where the dictionary was. The dictionary? What on earth did he need with a dictionary! Normally he uses the computer to look up words, but he needed the actual book. Like we used when I was in school, back before computers!
Curious, I got him the dictionary and watched. Within a few minutes he was looking up words. Then I had to know what he was up to! Guess what it was? Finding words that started with Q, J, or Z to play against his dad and I on ‘Words With Friends.’ For once, a video game actually made my child WANT to pick up a dictionary! Something I hadn’t been able to accomplish in years!
What is this ‘Words With Friends’ you’ve been hearing folks talk about? It’s sort of like Scrabble in a video game format that you can play on your smart phone, tablet, or computer (via Facebook). You can play against total strangers, but I don’t recommend that for kids. What’s really fun is playing with people you know, ESPECIALLY the kids in your life.
I’ve started playing regularly with my 14, 12, and 7 year old kids. I try to keep each game at a level appropriate for them, making my words more and more challenging as they get better and better at the game. My words with my 7 year old are usually 5 letters or less, while my words with my 14 year old are as complex as I can make! After about six weeks of playing, I’ve learned a few things about the benefits of playing this game with my school age kids that I thought I’d share with you. Here goes:
- It improves their vocabulary and challenges their spelling skills. The beauty of it is that they think they are playing a game, not learning vocabulary and spelling words! Amazing!
- You can play the game at whatever pace you want. Set aside an hour and play an entire game or just make a move or two when you can. It’s up to you.
- It’s a great way to play games with relatives that don’t live at your house. My children play their grandfather who lives in Texas, and I play my nephew that lives in Tennessee. It adds an extra layer of excitement to the relationship with a relative when you can play a game in addition to the more typical long distance interactions (like talking on the phone or sending an email).
- There is a messaging feature that you can use within a game that’s sort of like sending a text. So, my 7 year old nephew can send me what he calls a text even though he doesn’t even have a phone! I’ve learned all sorts of precious things about him from his texts.
- There aren’t any pieces! This may or may not be a problem at your house, but if I tried to play real Scrabble with my older kids my 4 year old would have the pieces spread around the house before we had a chance to make our first move!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you develop a ‘Words With Friends’ addiction or spend all of your time with your kids playing video games (come on, you know me better than that!). But if you haven’t tried playing this game with your school age children then you’re missing out. Just be sure to monitor them like you would playing any online game and only allow them to play with people they know. Enjoy!