Teaching with Scrabble tiles can be a fun, easy, hands-on way for homeschoolers to learn letters and words. Children of all ages love games and learn quickly when fun is involved. Scrabble tiles also make learning more hands-on, as children are able to manipulate the letters (even before they can write them). Here are some ideas for using Scrabble and Scrabble tiles with your preschool and elementary age students.
Teaching With Scrabble Tiles: Preschool
Identify Letter Tiles
Spread a few Scrabble tiles on the table. Have your preschooler find certain letters, e.g., “Where’s the A?” If your preschooler is just starting to learn their letters, start with fewer tiles. For example, when your child has done a few lessons with ABC, use those three tiles. Add more tiles as your child learns more letters.
Match Letter Tiles
Have your child match letter tiles to a mat with letters and words on them. Download Scrabble-match-mat.pdf (221 downloads) , which includes matching mats for the alphabet, sections of the alphabet, pre-Kindergarten sight words, and blank mats to make your own lists.
Play Scrabble Junior
Play the beginner side of Scrabble Junior. This side has words already spelled on the board, so your preschooler can match her letters to the letters on the board. You may want to give your child 3 or 5 letters instead of 7 to start with. Don’t introduce the points or worry about too many of the rules of the game; simply have fun matching letters. My three-and-a-half-year-old was able to play this with me or her older sisters and enjoyed being part of a “big game.”
Teaching With Scrabble Tiles: Early Elementary
Alphabetize the Letter Tiles
Present your child with the tiles for a complete alphabet. Have your child practice putting the letters in alphabetical order. For a younger child, you may want to give them sections of the alphabet (perhaps 5-6 tiles at a time). As the child does that well, give them more letters to alphabetize. You could also give your child random letters from the alphabet (e.g., W, D, I, G, Z) and have them place those in order.
Practice Spelling Words
Many children love playing with manipulatives and learning with their hands. Scrabble tiles are a great way to make words and letters more concrete for the child. Instead of having your child write out their spelling list, give them Scrabble tiles. They can spell each word with the tile and then either write the word as well or just show it to you.
Give your child the letters to some words (for example, one of their spelling list words) and have them unscramble the words. Start with shorter words (3-5 letters) and work to longer words as your child gets better at this activity. To make this activity fun, set a timer and see how fast your child can unscramble a word or how many words he or she can unscramble in a certain amount of time. You could also have your child choose letters for a spelling word and give them to you to unscramble.
Play Scrabble Junior
Introduce your child to Scrabble Junior by playing the beginner side of the game. Your child can match their letters to words already on the board, and score points for completing words. Children should be able to recognize the crossword patter to words and spell words. If your child is doing well at this, or is very good at unscrambling words, try the blank side of the board, where they create their own words.
Teaching With Scrabble Tiles: Upper Elementary
Play a Game of Scrabble
Play regular Scrabble with your child. Keeping points is optional; if points motivate your child, go for it. Counting points also adds an element of math to the game. If this overwhelms your child, just play for words and keep it fun. Keep a kid-friendly dictionary nearby and use it to look up words your child isn’t sure how to spell.
Play Speed Scrabble
Speed Scrabble (also known as Bananagrams) is a fast, fun version of Scrabble that uses only the letter tiles. Place the tiles, letter side down, in the centre of the table. Each person picks 7 tiles. When everyone is ready, one person says “Go” and all flip over your tiles. Each person tries to form a word or words with their 7 letters. For example, you could use all your letters to make a seven-letter word, or you could make a four-letter word and then play a three-letter word off the four-letter word. Once a person has used all their letters, he shouts “Take 1” and everyone must draw another tile from the pile. This continues until all the tiles are gone. Then each person adds up their own score.
Host a Scrabble Party or Competition
Invite some fellow homeschoolers over for an afternoon of playing Scrabble. You could play any version of Scrabble, depending on the age range or spelling abilities of the participants. Have snacks and drinks. Organize small prizes for participants, including a few prizes based not just on points but other factors, such as “Best Word Played” or “Most Creative Speller.”