School Scrabble Division
School SCRABBLE: Where the name of the game is learning. For over a decade, the School SCRABBLE Program has helped students discover a creative way to improve skills in language arts, vocabulary, mathematics and more.
Time and time again School Board members, superintendents, teachers and parents are amazed at how their kids’ enthusiasm and abilities evolve through the verbal, math and other challenges encountered when playing SCRABBLE. As a result, educators share that School SCRABBLE participants develop positive learning strategies on the board and these strategies overlap into their social lives and their ability to manage time.
Our free program provides an educational foundation without bogging students down with the usual homework assignments. Reaching out to the most diverse audience possible, School SCRABBLE inspires curiosity and learning and often gives a voice to students who may not otherwise have one.
Why School SCRABBLE?
Researchers & Educators Agree that SCRABBLE is an excellent learning tool
Playing the SCRABBLE game is so much fun, your students won’t notice how much they’re learning.
SCRABBLE boosts a half dozen skill areas, as well as social and personal skills.
SPELLING sharpens quickly in the team atmosphere where it’s “cool” to know the spelling rules. With SCRABBLE, good spelling brings peer rewards – a powerful motivator for even the weakest speller.
VOCABULARY expands with the opportunities to find and use new words. SCRABBLE makes words valuable – for points, at first, and then also for their meanings. Once students see words as valuable, they find out its fun to “collect” them. Vocabulary becomes a tool to win a game they enjoy.
MATH SKILLS improve automatically in a game where addition and multiplication are basic to action. With every play, students calculate where they stand, counting and recounting word values even before they make their play on board. With the School SCRABBLE Program, points are rewards, and the faster the players do their mental math, the quicker the gratification.
DICTIONARY SKILLS expand as students learn to rely on the dictionary as the final judge of their words, as well as an exciting source of new words. Students will find that familiarity leads to discovery and vice-versa!
SPATIAL RELATIONSHIP SKILLS stretch as students plan words to fit available spaces on the board, and for the most points, of course! The act of manipulating tiles creates a hands-on connection between concepts and objects, reinforcing students’ abilities to concentrate on spatial relationships.
THINKING SKILLS expand in the exciting team atmosphere of word play, fostering unique opportunities for creative and critical thinking without fear of judgment or poor grades. Imagining, planning, evaluating options and decision-making are some of the skills essential to team success.
SOCIAL & PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS develop naturally as students experience principles of team play, friendly competition and following rules. Self-esteem grows in the SCRABBLE game atmosphere, where the definition of successful participation can range from puling tiles from the bag to challenging another player’s word. Even when a team loses, members have had the satisfaction of working together to shape their part of the game.
No matter what the outcome, the School SCRABBLE Program provides an opportunity to learn more words and adopt new strategies while socializing with peers.
The School SCRABBLE Program generally targets students in grades 5-8 who have a basic understanding of spelling, vocabulary, math and spatial skills. This program can best be incorporated into the curriculum of these grades. Students in our program play in teams of two. We find the support of a buddy makes game play more productive and comfortable for most kids.
That said, we encourage educators to introduce younger students to activities and skills that will help develop their knowledge of the SCRABBLE game. Some students start as early as first grade.
Many educators have found attentive smaller groups in grades 1-4 very willing to use SCRABBLE as a learning tool. Often they start without a game board and shuffle tiles face up on a table and have a lot of fun using the letters to find and make words. Start with simple tasks such as having each student try and find the tiles to spell their own names. Next introduce the blank tile and explain how it can represent one of those letters. If old enough, students use math skills by adding up points in people’s names. You can then teach them about “sharing” letters and have them try and criss cross 2 or more names. You get the idea.
If you think your group might be ready, give it a try. Keep it simple, do not worry about scores and make sure to stop game play before they get tired of it. We think you will be surprised at the results. Classrooms and after-school programs with the right leader and energy will find their efforts very successful and rewarding.
After 8th grade and when students have a solid understanding of the game, we encourage them to start playing 1-on-1. Look at our SCRABBLE Club Directories, and you will see we also have high school and college clubs where students can continue their passion. Many of our past School SCRABBLE Championship contestants have gone on to compete in official sanctioned SCRABBLE tournaments.
Some students may have already played the SCRABBLE game with their families or friends, while for others, this may be their first introduction to the game. Whatever the situation, it is best to start slowly. Teaching students all the game rules on the first day can be a bit overwhelming, so we recommend you begin by first introducing skills and materials students will need to play the game.
Here are some suggestions on how to prepare your room for your first meeting:
HAVE THESE MATERIALS READY
1 copy of Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition
Enough pencils for each team of players
Tiles & Racks
Team Score Card
EASY SCRABBLE STRATEGY & RULES
When you first play the SCRABBLE game with students, play as a group. Divide the group into two teams and have team members take turns drawing tiles from the tile bag and placing words face up on the table in front of them.
Have them shuffle the selected tiles and then make a play on the game board. You may want to draw a rough SCRABBLE grid on the chalkboard and write each word as it is played so that all the students can see. Discuss each play, pointing out rules and strategies as the game progresses. Encourage students to find alternate plays that might be worth more points. In particular, have students note the “hot spots” – the double-and triple-letter and word squares that can boost their scores.
When you feel the students have a basic understanding of the game, have them pick a partner. It is best to pair students who have played the game at home with those who are new to the game. Students will soon learn that someone having math or vocabulary skills is a plus.
Make sure both teams keep score and call out their scores after each addition. As with any game, it may be a bit chaotic the first few times students play, but you will be surprised at how quickly students become proficient at the game. Don’t worry about time. Do keep track of scores. Consider making a simple printout of the rules for students to study as part of their homework.
After a few practice sessions, you and your club will be ready to set down specific procedures for SCRABBLE game play. Each session, designate certain students to distribute tile bags, boards and racks.
Have students at each board count the 100 tiles at the beginning of each SCRABBLE game session. An easy way to do this is to have students make a five-tile by five-tile grid on each corner of the board or a 10 by 10 tile grid on the board.
Discuss with students how challenges and rule questions will be handled and make certain everyone knows what the definitive word source will be. Encourage students to look up unfamiliar words and make a classroom journal of these words for everyone to share.
Using the Program In the Classroom
Over a million students play SCRABBLE® in more than 20,000 schools in USA through the School SCRABBLE® Program.
School SCRABBLE is designed to work within the framework of your school day. In fact, an entire game is roughly equivalent to a school period.
Think about the skills you want to emphasize and substitute SCRABBLE for worksheets or other
routine class work. Better yet, use SCRABBLE just for fun – and watch skill development take off
on its own!
Your enthusiasm helps set the tone for learning and fun. Let your excitement show! Remember
your role includes stepping in to help with a word play, ensuring play is conducted fairly and
making the final ruling in a challenge situation.
The School SCRABBLE website is a great FREE resource with helpful tips and information on running your club as well as great ideas for implementing SCRABBLE in the classroom. It is up-to-the-minute for all things School SCRABBLE® and both educators and students may log on to find activities, tips, championship news and information on the program.
Educators will love the new ideas and lesson plans that meet nationally mandated goals. Kids will love the word lists, games and word challenges. There are also bulletin boards where teachers may gather tips and information from others using the program across the country. Check out the free printable supplies that can be used for your club and tournaments.
As students become more proficient in finding and creating new words, introduce word activities such as the ones provided in our lesson plans that will help improve their game play.
For example, an anagram is a word that is spelled with the exact same letters as another word. IE: KITCHEN is the anagram of THICKEN, and vice versa. Learning to find anagrams is an important skill in the SCRABBLE game.
Here are some ways to introduce your students to anagramming:
Write the following phrases on the board and ask students what the phrases have in common:
nor do we
Challenge students to work with a partner and find all the two-, three- and four-letter word in the word SPOT.
As students become better at finding anagrams, give them more difficult challenges, such as finding the anagrams for words like CHARM, TEACHER, TEASED and REEF.
Call on students to find anagrams in their names, the name of their school, town or street on
which the school is located.
Invite students to bring in interesting anagrams to share with the rest of the class.
Distribute letter tiles and racks (only) to pairs of students. Have them pick seven letters from
the bag and try to form as many words as they can with those letters. After five minutes, call
on pairs to share their findings with the class. Have them read their list of words, give the
spelling of each word and tell whether the words are nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs.
The Benefits of Board Games
Playing games with your kids is a perfect way to spend time together — and build learning skills at the same time.
What your child most wants — and needs — is to be with you with no goal in mind beyond the joy of spending time together. He wants you to take pleasure in him, play with him, and listen to him. Nothing bolsters his self-esteem more! So why not pull out an old board game tonight? Playing games is an easy and excellent way to spend unhurried, enjoyable time together. As an added bonus, board games are also rich in learning opportunities. They satisfy your child’s competitive urges and the desire to master new skills and concepts, such as:
- number and shape recognition, grouping, and counting
- letter recognition and reading
- visual perception and color recognition
- eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity
Games don’t need to be overtly academic to be educational, however. Just by virtue of playing them, board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others. Board games can foster the ability to focus, and lengthen your child’s attention span by encouraging the completion of an exciting, enjoyable game. Even simple board games like Chutes and Ladders offer meta-messages and life skills: Your luck can change in an instant — for the better or for the worse. The message inherent in board games is: Never give up. Just when you feel despondent, you might hit the jackpot and ascend up high, if you stay in the game for just a few more moves.
Board games have distinct boundaries. Living in a complex society, children need clear limits to feel safe. By circumscribing the playing field — much as tennis courts and football fields will do later — board games can help your child weave her wild and erratic side into a more organized, mature, and socially acceptable personality. After all, staying within the boundaries (not intruding on others’ space, for example) is crucial to leading a successful social and academic life.
A Word About Winning
Children take game playing seriously, so it’s important that we help guide them through the contest. When a playing piece falls to a lower level, our kids really feel sad; when it rises up high, they are remarkably proud and happy, even if we adults know that it happened only by chance. Therefore, you need to help balance your child’s pleasure in playing the game with his very limited ability to manage frustration and deal with the idea of losing.
For 3, 4, and even 5 year olds, winning is critical to a feeling of mastery. So generally, I think it’s okay to “help” them win. By about 6, kids should begin to internalize the rules of fair play, tenuous as they may seem to a child who is losing a game. So I am also fine with a 6 year old “amending” the rules to win if he feels she has to. I encourage you to acknowledge your child’s need for special rules. At the start of the game, you might want to ask, “Are we playing by regular or cheating rules today?”
Choosing the Right Game at Every Age
While in the long run we need to teach values, ethics, academic skills, and the importance of playing by the rules, in the early years the primary goals are helping your child become more self-confident and ambitious and to enjoy playing with others. If you’re playing with more than one child, divide the family into teams, giving each player a job he can do well: A younger child may be responsible for rolling the dice (which he considers important, since that is where the luck comes from), and an older child the job of sorting the Monopoly money.
As children approach 5, they have more sophisticated thinking skills and can begin to incorporate and exercise their number, letter, and word knowledge in literacy-based games. By 6, children may prefer more cognitively challenging games like checkers, which require and help develop planning, strategy, persistence, and critical thinking skills. Here are some of our favorite game picks for 5 and 6 year olds.
Scrabble Junior : This is the younger cousin of the tremendously educational and challenging Scrabble, which we all know and love. Using large yellow letter tiles, players match letters to words already written on one side of the board. The reverse side has an open grid where older children can create their own words.
SCRABBLE® and associated trademarks and trade dress are used under license from Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Mattel name and logo are trademarks of Mattel, Inc. and used with permission.