Games with the Scrabble bag

As a good way to finish lessons in a fun way with Intermediate – Master level students, just grab the bag of letters from the Scrabble box and here are 3 different games you could play. They all force students to try and use their English vocab – sometimes they will experiment and come up´with words they didnt even know. Sorry this blog post is so long – it was difficult to explain! If you want more info, I’m happy to run you through the game in the teachers room. Laters, DM

1. Pick One.
Probably the most difficult, definitely one for smaller groups (unless students work in pairs) and higher level groups. I used to play this with my parents and Grandpa camping. Play around a table (or the green round things we have in the teachers room). Teacher plays too but also helps students. Empty all the letters onto the middle of the table and turn them upside down. Everybody playing takes 7 each. When the teacher says “go!” students play as fast as they can to get words of 2 letters or more out onto the board. Once 1 word is out, all other words must connect to other words in the same way they do with Scrabble. no abbreviations, place names etc. allowed. There is no turn taking – everyone should just go for it. When a person gets all their pieces out they shout “pick one” and everyone playing has to take a new letter. This way, if you are losing you may end up picking many new letters in a short space of time – the emphasis is on speed. If everyone gets stuck and can’t go then you can decide together to pick one to help get the game going again. When all the letters have been used and it is impossible to “pick one” the game is over. At this point, the score of each players remaining letters is added up (using the little numbers on each letter). The player with the least (ie. no letters left=no score) is the winner and the player with the most is the loser! It toko about 20 minutes to play 1 game with my Master 3s last semester.

2. Olympic Scrabble.
Inspired by the recent Olympics in Beijing. Split your group into 3 or 4 teams. Teacher can sit at a chair or better the floor as it can get chaotic. If you want ask your teams to choose a nationality (and then suggest they speak in the accent of that place for the rest of the game!). Each team starts with 7 letters. They have to form words of 3 or more letters. As soon as they have a word they run up to the teacher and place their word down in front of the teacher. The teacher approves the word (if it doesnt exist or is an abbreviation or name send them back!) and writes the score for their word (adding up the little numbers on each of the letters) on a list. When the word is approved students then replenish their letters from the bag by the same number they took to the teacher (if they took 3 letters, they get 3 letters so they always have 7 with them). IMPORTANT: T needs to discard the letters that S have used! They should only take new letters from the bag, not from the pile of used letters! The T needs to be organised to keep track of each groups scores (write them down in columns on notepaper, I suggest) as there will be a lot of very fast activity! When the bag is finished the teams can submit 1 more word each and then the game is over. Add up the scores and the team with the most points is the winner. Award gold, silver and bronze medals and interview the winners like it was an Olympic event. (Occasionally Sts will be totally stuck in the game – perhaps they have all vowels or something. Allow them to exchange some letters if they really aren’t making any progress).

3. Scrabble Boggle.
There’s a game in the UK called Boggle where players have to form words from a mix of letters. You can do this with the Scrabble bag too. Ask a student to pick 9 letters from the bag and then write them on the board (normally in a square 3×3 letters) including the value of the letters (the little number in the corner of the letters). Put the bag and the letters away you don’t need it anymore. Sts in groups of 2 or 3 have to make as many separate words of 3 letters or more from the 9 letter grid. They cannot use letters more than once in each word. Set a time limit and stick to it (ie 2 minutes). At the end of 2 minutes groups swop papers to correct results and results are read out. Groups only get points for ORIGINAL words that no other group has. The points they get are the total of the little numbers of the letters in their original words (confused?). The winner is the team with the most points. (ps. no abbreviations or names allowed either. Also, tell your students that plural words do not count (ie. if they have “cat” they can’t have “cats”). T can also play and explain his/her original words at the end to teach new vocab.

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