In particular, I am a fan of the Nintendo DS. Although I have never personally played it for more than a few minutes, I like that my boys (who both have some fine motor delays) are forced to use a stylus to play, thus getting some great fine motor practice. At this point, I hope that I haven’t lost some of you who are scratching their heads and saying, “What does this have to do with homeschooling?” But wait – there is a game that is fabulous for both spelling and critical/creative thinking skills, and I couldn’t wait to share information about it with you.
The game Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS costs just under $30 (this does not include, of course, the cost of a Nintendo DS, which can be sizable). In the game, the player plays as the main character, Maxwell. Maxwell goes through a variety of challenges (there are 220 of them), always trying to capture Starites (sparkly stars).
Catching these Starites are not easy, however. For instance, in one easier challenge, Maxwell is on the ground and the Starite is in a tree. It is then that the magic of this game comes to life. The player decides what Maxwell will do to get to the Starite. The player will use either a keyboard or notepad that shows up on the screen and may type (or write) in LADDER. Magically, a ladder appears, and you can move it next to the tree for Maxwell to climb. Of course, maybe the player prefers to use an AX to cut down the tree. Then again, maybe a BEAVER can gnaw the tree to the ground. With over 30,000 items recognized, it’s really up to the player’s imagination.
All of my children (ages 5 through 10) love Scribblenauts. I love it for them. I am thrilled every time my oldest son, who struggles horribly with spelling, eagerly grabs for this game. Although he sometimes has to ask for some assistance, this game appears to be helping his spelling with a very unconventional method.
For my son, I also like that Scribblenauts has a feature that assists a struggling speller. First, if he decides he wants to place a house in a spot, and types in HOSE, he will, of course, get a hose. This helps him to self-correct his spelling. He suddenly realizes that house is not spelling as H-O-S-E. Given this, his next attempt might be to type in HOWSE. I was initially afraid that the game would then just leave him frustrated, but instead, it then gives a list of options with a “Did you mean…” on top. My son’s spelling is improving and he is having fun. This is a lot more than I can say for many of the spelling curriculum pieces we have chosen.
I also would be remiss if I didn’t also say that this game has been great for my five year old preschooler. She is already able to spell some three letter words, but, of course, a CAT can’t always help get that starite. So, she has me assist her with spelling words that she doesn’t know how to spell. Instead of giving her the spellings, we always work on sounding out anything from PROM QUEEN to ABRAHAM LINCOLN. She happily comes up with the craziest methods to solving the scenarios, and I get to smile that she is eagerly attentive to listening to me say things like, “Yes, that sounds like a Y, but that sound is made by putting a W and an H together.”
You probably aren’t going to find Scribblenauts on a table at your next homeschooling conference, but if I had a table of things I recommended to homeschoolers, it would definitely be on it.
Do you have any favorite video games that are also great for learning?
When Angie is not busy with other projects, she enjoys writing at her blog Many Little Blessings about faith, family, and household management topics. Angie is the founder of The Homeschool Classroom and Catholic Mothers Online. She is also the co-founder of Homeschool Lifestyle Media.