I've discovered I do my best thinking in the shower. Some people sing, I create. That’s where I came up with this marvelous idea. (It’s really too bad I dreamed this up my last year of teaching, but I have high hopes of being able to convince some of you, my readers still in the classroom, of the merits of this great idea...)
For those of you not familiar with the game of Quiddler, it’s a fast word game. Well, it’s fast when you learn how to play it. The object of the game is to make the most or longest words you can, given the hand you’re dealt, hoping that your opponents don't go out before you do. It starts with three cards in your hand and the last round has ten cards. That’s it. Simple.
I knew this would be a great vocabulary building game for the classroom. It uses all the spelling and phonics skills kids possess, as well as dictionary skills. Directions say to choose one dictionary as the “Official” dictionary. I chose, and purchased the Scrabble Dictionary, enough so each game had 2 of them. (Note: I have since discovered an Official Quiddler Short Word Dictionary.)
The first time I used it in the classroom, I decided to make it a reading comprehension activity, as well. I gave every kid a copy of the rules, and instead of me telling them how to play, I asked them how to play. (I think we give kids too many instructions, creating dependent learners, so I like to give them lots of opportunities to figure things out for themselves.) After dropping the “You tell me how to play” bombshell, I handed them a set of 20 questions to guide the process and 5 minutes to figure it out.
I asked for questions and they assured me they all understood and could they please play the game now? OK then, let the games begin!
Let’s just say the first time they played was a learning curve for them and me. I knew they would struggle with the rules, and they didn’t disappoint. I let them know, if their entire group had the same question while they were playing, they should raise their hand and I’d come over. Every time they asked me a question, I’d say, “Hmmm, I wonder where we could find the answer to that question?” They got tired of hearing that and eventually waded through the instructions to find out on their own.
I’m a firm believer that, if I’m going to use a game as a learning tool, it’s perfectly fine to change it up a bit to make learning accessible for everyone. I made a couple adjustments after that first time, determining this made a good partner game. One was to have four pairs of players per game and partners played the same hand. That provided some good conversation. The other was, if a student was struggling, s/he could lay the cards down and the rest of the group could help figure out the best plan with that person. (That was just until s/he got the hang of it.) Added to that, using the dictionary to see if a word was spelled correctly, or even existed, was a skill all of them needed to practice.
Of course there was the group that caught on quickly. They were the ones that inspired my shower time epiphany, the Queens and Kings of Quiddler. It would be a club, before or after school. Each person would play against different opponents each time and we’d keep a running win/loss record, as well as total points. At the end of the year, a Queen and King of Quiddler would be crowned!
And then, I retired...
I’m hoping that someone, somewhere out there in the universe will take up the call to cards and start their own Queens and Kings of Quiddler® Tournament. If you do, will you let me know how it turns out?
Oh my gosh! This just in...
When I was looking online for pictures of the cards (because they’re very cool), I discovered a Daily Online Quiddler Game! There's even a built-in school challenge! Try the online game. I know you’ll love it!
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." Confucius