An old game but a favourite is Boggle. It’s advertised as a three minute word game, but sometimes the time is less relevant, as it is equal for everyone. It provides a mental challenge, with an element of competition. The requirement is to make as many words as possible, with three letters or more, with one point for 3 or 4 letter words, 2 for 5 letters, 3 for 6 and 5 for 7+. The letters have to be linked on an edge or a corner to make a complete word.
For me, this year, it was interesting to reflect on my approach to the game, in line with on-line discussions about word attack skills, including phonics.
Letter-sound correspondence is a key starting point as is the ability to blend letters together; examples on the shared board might be ea, st or ng. Each offers the opportunity to extend the sound by adding letters before or after.
Of course there is always the possibility of a non-word, or a suspect word creeping in, so some form of adjudication might be necessary, either an adult, or a dictionary. It can give rise to interesting discussions, extending vocabulary.
Game playing with a real purpose, making lists of words, often within a “family” of sounds, checking each other and challenging as needed, all support word attack skills, but without the formality of a taught lesson. It can effectively become a test, especially of the random nature of the shaking of the box is removed to provide specific letter combinations that have been recently learned.
It might provide an alternative to word searches. However, you have to put up with the sound of shaking dice.
I wonder how many different words you can make from the example above, in three minutes?
Probably available from your local charity shop, for a few pounds.