I’ve recently experimented playing Bookworm Adventure with my kid and it has been a resounding success, turning him into a spelling fiend and bringing us closer together in the process. I will detail here the methods that I have used to keep his interest up even when he struggled to find a word.
About Bookworm Adventure
Bookworm Adventure is a high-quality word game from PopCap Games mixing concepts from Scrabble™, role-playing games and turn-based fighting games. It delivers a witty and colorful experience that both kids and adults will enjoy. Help Lex, a cute “bookworm” character, fight his way through three “storybooks” and face a rogue’s gallery of monsters inspired by literature. You defeat these monsters by building words out of a random set of letter tiles. Longer words will hit the monsters harder and you may be rewarded by special “power-up” tiles that will help you in your next fights.
See my review of this excellent game for more details.
- Stimulate interest in spelling;
- Increase awareness of conjugation and other grammatical permutations;
- Increase self-confidence;
- Increase vocabulary;
- Prevent discouragement;
- Most of all: have fun!!
(Note: Both boys and girls will enjoy Bookworm but I’ll use the masculine gender for clarity.)
In short, my method is to first to let my kid play around with letter tiles to find a word, any word, either on purpose or randomly. I help him out if he’s too scared or self-conscious but, otherwise, I always encourage him come up with something by himself, even if the word is very small (e.g. “cat”).
Then it’s up to me to help him make a bigger word by adding letters or suggest a bigger word that I found by myself. Remember, the longer the word, the more punch Lex will have in his attack. This way, we really get to feel we work as a team as his intervention really help me figure out words. Eventually, as he build confidence and get a better grasp of spelling rules, he becomes more and more autonomous until he can word-slap monsters by himself, with only a little bit of parental help in subduing the odd level boss.
Tips and tricks
- Bear in mind that it is more empowering for your child to use words he found himself, even if a better one could be found. If you have a better word in mind, ask if he’s interested before replacing it. Let your child use a smaller word if that’s his decision.
- If necessary, you can point out if Lex is in difficulty and if a longer word may be required to survive the fight. (Please note that losing a fight is no big deal. You will simply go back to the beginning of the current level.)
- When making word suggestions, say it aloud and let your kid figure out how it’s spelled. Then verbally correct any spelling mistake when necessary.
- Give your kid a chance to correct his spelling mistakes by trial and error before giving the answer away.
- Look for familiar words whenever possible. This helps making finding words look easier and less daunting.
- When you find a big or unfamiliar word, point out if the word is build from a smaller and more familiar word (criminologist/crime).
- Take the time to explain the meaning of the words that you found or that your kid discovered by playing around.
- If you don’t know the meaning of the word, and you are not in a hurry to blast the monster away, take some time to find its meaning in the dictionary or write it down to research later.
- You could make a list of the new or very long words you found and call this your “treasure chest” of new words.
- Bear in mind that some words may not be in the game’s dictionary even if they are valid.
- Double-check in a dictionary before blaming the game. ;)
- I believe the use of potty words (shit, etc.) or sexual words (penis, etc.) can be appropriate, particularly if your child found them. These are powerful words in the mind of a child and writing them can be an empowering experience. Emphasize that these words are not for polite conversation but that they do exist and can have their use in the proper time and place, such as at the doctor’s office. At the very least, this should improve the spelling of his graffiti. ;)
Creating longer words
- Encourage your child to look for ways to make words longer by adding more letters, such as by:
- Adding an -S to make the plural form of a noun (cat / cats);
- Adding -ER or -IST to transform a thing into a type of person (truck / trucker, science / scientist, big/biggest);
- Adding –ER or –EST to an adjective (small/smaller, mean/meanest);
- Adding -ED, -ING or S to conjugate a verb (kill / killed, love / loving);
- Adding prefixes, such as A-, DE-, IN- or RE- (construct / deconstruct, political / apolitical, etc.)
- When adding letters to a word, explain what you are doing and how you can make a word completely change meaning by adding letters (mend / mending / amending, cat / cater / caterers).
- Elongating a word is very rewarding, especially if your kid found the original word. In this case, emphasize how you worked as a team to create such a long word.
- You can suggest other ways to make words longer in my suggestion box at the bottom of this page.
- Let your kid in charge of the mouse. Give directions verbally.
- Stay calm and happy.
- Take breaks every half hour or so.
- Take a break or stop the game if either of you become angry, irritated or too argumentative.
- Remember: this is about your kid. You can always start your own game if you want to test your own limits.
* When you make a mistake, emphasize the fact that you get spelling wrong sometimes and that’s normal.
Now, download the FREE trial version of Bookworm Adventure Deluxe or play its free online version and have fun with your kid! Also, don’t hesitate to add your own tips in the commentary space below.