The Alphabet Game GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: Third through sixth graders have enjoyed the game using appropriate grade level words. This exercise may be incorporated into spelling lessons, geography, social studies, any lesson that would be helped through spelling of words. It also may stand alone as a fun exercise. OVERVIEW: Many children tend to see learning as a chore. This exercise is designed to encourage children to see words as a challenge. In the game, being a good speller is a definite advantage. Being a good leader helps and working as a team wins the game. To be successful as a team, children learn to cooperate, be responsible for the letters they hold and help others. The normal classroom will work if the desks can be pushed to face each other but need some room to work and still be somewhat separated. One of the more desirable rules is quiet helpfulness. The quieter the teams are, the more points they gain. This also forces more leadership and more cooperation. PURPOSE: Children are encouraged to see words/learning as something fun and challenging; the good spellers are an important part of the team rather than being looked down on as "bookworms". Natural leaders surface helping the group form the words. Group cooperation becomes important and a reachable, seeable, profitable entity rather than some teacher's unimportant words. OBJECTIVES: This program may appear to be almost a noisy disaster the first time it is done. When it happens, a very important lesson is there to be worked with and through. Causes are usually related to some of the group's inability to work together as a team. As they, with the teacher's help, work through what happened and how the game may go better next time, they see the need for cooperating. They see the importance of a leader. They see the importance of the points lost because of excess noise. The next game will be composed of different team members and certainly will go differently. The second time around invariably does better even if the first game was excellent. The children do learn to work together quietly and efficiently. RESOURCES/MATERIALS: Two sets of alphabet cards. I made cards approximately 4" x 5", wrote a large letter in the middle with a small letter in the corner with a line under it when needed to differentiate between w and m, for example, and laminated the cards for permanence. A chalkboard for scoring purposes is all you need, otherwise. ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: The class is divided into two groups in any way that is nonthreatening. Counting off onetwo, one-two or a-b, a-b works well. Each group is given a set of the alphabet with each letter on a large colored card. One group might have green letters, the other yellow. These cards are randomly split as evenly as possible among the team. 1. The first group to spell a word given by the teacher wins the points for that word. 2. The quietest group, if a difference can be heard, wins and extra five points. 3. Exceptional noise of either team = five points lost. 4. Words are given a value before they are given to the teams and the teams are told that value. For example, for third graders, the word fox might be worth five points, while the word green would be worth ten points because it has the problem of double letters in it. The phrase The End might be classed as a fifteen pointer. A potent ending of 25 points is to have each team put their letters in alphabetical order as quickly and quietly as possible. 5. Double letters or two same letters in a word must be handled in a specific way. The first letter is in place as usual. Another letter that is not being used in the word is used as the second "same" letter. The difference is the odd letter is turned over and the back of the card is used. For example, the word Xerox would be spelled; Xero(blank card) or green would be spelled; gre(blank card)n. 6. Some children may be responsible for more than one letter. When their letter is needed, they must hold the card in front of their chest right side up and in the proper order in the word. The word is to be read from left to right. For example, the team on the left of the teacher would start their word closest to the teacher. The team on the right would start their word farthest from the teacher. 7. If the child has another letter that is needed in the word called (for example, the word is felt and he has both the letters l and t), he cannot hold both letters. He must quietly and quickly find someone whose letters are not needed and give him the needed letter. That child will get in the proper place. 8. When possible, a "judge" is helpful. It might be an aide in the classroom or someone from another class. 9. A scorekeeper from the class may also be helpful. Some kids would see this as a great reward. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: A discussion at the end helps the kids work out what worked in the group, what didn't work in the group and what they might like to change. The children learn how to criticize constructively and change their own behavior in a productive manner. Possible word list: third grade - cats, joy, love, quit, boys, smooth (10 points), map, box, never (10 points), saw, girl, dogs, blue, fox, away (10 points), green (10 points), help, yellow (10 points), purple (10 points), quiet (10 points), the end (15 points) fifth grade - loving, people (10 points), zipper, quiet, Xerox (25 points), helpful, sharing, wonderful (15 points), wearing, kick (10 points), joyful, loving, purple, silly (10 points), putty (10 points), summer (10 points), pretty (10 points), zip-code, beautiful (20 points), vacation (15 points), cooperate (15 points) When other lists are used, and you will want to compile your own list, be sure that each letter is used at least twice. It is discouraging for a student to have two letters which are never used.