It Boggles the Mind: Geeky Games to Trick Your Geeklet Into Learning

Geek Culture

Photo: JeremyKemp/WikipediaPhoto: JeremyKemp/Wikipedia

Photo: JeremyKemp/Wikipedia

We, and I suspect many other geekparents, struggle with the right balance between providing our child with productive learning time and free play time. Sure, we let the geeklet play games on the Wii and watch (pre-screened) movies, but we also play a lot of board and card games together. Often we try to sneak in educational games. Recently, one of our favorite games has been Boggle.

Briefly, Boggle is a game played with 16 letter dice and a 3-minute timer. The letter dice are randomly shaken into a grid. The goal is to find as many words as possible within three minutes. There are various rules on how the letters of the words must connect and on how the length of the word affects the score (the rules are in the wikipedia link above).

We’ve modified the rules of the game to give our kindergartener a chance. First, the basic rules require that all words have three or more letters. For the geeklet, the minimum is reduced to two letters. The geeklet is also allowed to use proper names. Finally, we modified the way the geeklet’s words are scored, with one point for two-letter words, two points for three-letter words, and continuing in this fashion to six letter words. At seven letters or more, the geeklet scores double the number of letters. I think I said a 16-letter word would get 50 million points. This encourages the search for longer words.

The other day I found evidence that my little geeklet was practicing solo. The words?

Brig, sighlint, sighlints

(Brig, silent, silence)

Okay, so some spellings are still a little off, and I don’t know if the little one knows the meaning of the word “Brig” or if it’s been found before and therefore the spelling is remembered.

Anyway, what I’m really after are your modifications to popular board or card games that keep the competition and interest alive or suggestions of not-so-popular board or card games that you play with your young geek. I am especially interested in games that sneak a little teaching into them. I’ll post a review of a wickedly fun (for math geeks) but complex game called Equate in the future. The review of Chateau Roquefort recently posted was great. We already have that game but don’t love it as much because the little geeklet always attempts to win by dumping opposing mice into the dungeons, which I suppose is a perfectly valid strategy.

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