February 28, 2014

ThinkFun Review #2: Zingo! Word-Builder

Available here!
A new addition to my Speech room this month is Zingo! Word-Builder, courtesy of ThinkFun. Many of you are probably aware of the regular version of Zingo!, a fun and novel way to play Bingo. Zingo! Word-Builder is similar to the original in that the game consists of game boards, plastic tiles, and a "Zing Zinger" (tile machine).

The game boards feature 3-letter words, with one or two of the letters missing. On their turn, students move the Zing Zinger to release two tiles and have to figure out if the letters can be used to create words on their game board. The person to complete their board first is the winner. There are two difficulty levels: one side of the board is missing only one letter (in either initial, medial, or final position), and the other side is missing 1-2 of the letters. One thing that is great about the game boards and plastic tiles is that all vowels are highlighted in red. This makes it very visual for students. Another positive aspect about this game is that the Zing Zinger now has slots on the top so that you can discard your tiles more easily (unlike my other/older version).
Level 1 - one letter is missing.

I played this game with my Speech students (Kindergarten through 2nd grade) and we had a lot of fun! This activity was great for practicing basic decoding skills and trying to figure out whether the created word was a real word or a non-sense word (only real words are allowed). Here are some additional ways you could adapt this game for Speech -- many of them targeting phonological awareness skills:
  • have students identify the beginning/middle/ending sounds
  • have students try to come up with rhyming words
  • prior to letting students move the Zing Zinger, ask them about the possible words they could make and which letters they would need
  • when students create a word, have them make a sentence using the word
  • after students make a word, ask them what other words they could have made if they had had the letter ___ instead
  • have students substitute sounds, e.g., "You made the word 'bat'. What word do we get if we say /h/ instead of /b/?"
    Level 2 - 1-2 letters missing.

In addition to playing this game in the Speech room, I wanted to see if this game could be easily adapted to a larger classroom environment (since this activity would be great for a lower elementary level language arts classroom). I asked one of our Kindergarten teachers if I could push-in for a guest lecture for 20 minutes of their day, and she kindly allowed me to come in. Many faces lit up when the kids saw the Zingo! box and I was greeted with a lot of, "I have that game at home!" (They were talking about the original version.) 

Zingo! using a document camera
I set up a game board and the Zing Zinger on the document camera so that the whole class could see it. Next, I had students take turns coming up, move the Zing Zinger, and try to figure out where to place the letter tiles on the board. When they got stuck, their peers were allowed to help. The kids *loved* moving the Zing Zinger. They were super motivated, and we know that motivation is positively linked to learning ;). I think this game would be a fantastic addition to any K-2nd grade classroom to use either in a whole group or during stations. I will also be sharing this game with our Special Day Class teacher, since many of her students are decoding at the basic CVC word level. 

There are several different Zingo! versions available - Sight Words, Counting, Bilingual... make sure to go check them out here. Also make sure to read my other ThinkFun review of Rush Hour Jr., a great Speech room addition! In a few days, I will be writing about another great game by this company, so stay tuned for more!

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