It all started when I found this little thing at my local game store.
So my challenge was to build a board game around it. I wanted to make a game that was more complex than my last board game; involves some math (and ideally skip counting, since Sasha is working on that concept in class); incorporates strategy and not just probability; requires players to read, write, and move their bodies; and would provide a platform for players to become more familiar with sentence anatomy (nouns, verbs, and adjectives).
Here's what I came up with.
Each space on the board is color-coded as well as labeled.
Orange = nouns
Yellow = adjectives
Green = verbs
Blue = writing activity
There are three stacks of cards next to the board:
Nouns (blank cards)
Adjectives (common, simple adjectives like silly, sweet, bumpy, cold, easy)
Verbs (command sentences like "Invent a dance move" and "point to something red")
Each space on the board starts with a coin on it. Nouns and Adjectives have pennies, Verbs have nickles, and Writing spaces have dimes.*
On your turn, you roll the Noun/Adj/Verb dice and a d4** to determine which spaces you can jump on and how many. So if you roll "noun" and a 3, you'll leap onto three different spaces marked "noun." You can only leap one row at a time and only within your current row or forward into the next row. (This was the most confusing part of the whole game for Sasha -- adjust according to your players' preferences or comprehension levels.) You want to leap onto spaces with coins, because that's how you collect points, but you can also leap onto spaces where someone else has already taken the coin.
In order to collect your coin, you have to perform the associated literacy action.
Nouns: write a noun on one of the blank orange "noun" cards.
Adjectives: read an adjective card aloud.
Verbs: read the verb card and do what it says.
Blue Writing spaces are like a wild card. You can opt to leap to blue Writing spaces instead of the thing you rolled, with a maximum of the number you rolled. For example, if you rolled a 3 and "noun," you could leap onto two blue Writing spaces and one noun space.
If you choose a blue Writing space, you must write a complete sentence that uses one of the verbs, adjectives, or nouns on the cards that are face up. Since this action is more complicated than a regular noun/adj/verb space, it's worth the most money (a dime).
Whichever player reaches the end of the gameboard first ends the game. But to determine the winner, you must each count up the coins you collected.*** (Before we even started playing the game, Sasha and I reviewed what each coin is called and how much money it is worth, and did some basic conversion math along the lines of "how many pennies does it take to 'make' a nickle?", which was a really helpful exercise for her.)
It was a fun game, but Sasha's favorite part by far was the verbs. She loved getting to move her body around as part of the game play, which makes me think it's about time to do some Literacy Charades at our next tutoring session!
* You could do any variation on the coins you like -- all pennies, for example; I mainly ended up
with this particular arrangement based on how many of each coin I
happened to have on hand.
** a d4 is a four-sided dice. If you don't have a bunch of D&D dice floating around like I do, you could totally just use a regular six-sided (d6) dice.
*** A possible variation on this game that would make it cooperative is that the players could pool their winnings and compare them to the amount left on the board -- did your team win, or did the game win?