To play this game, each player draws ten pentagon-shaped cards. Each card has five related words worth a certain amount of points (0, 5, 10, or 20). Each player uses the words on his cards to create a grammatically correct sentence consisting of two to ten words. The first player to create a sentence turns over the sand timer, and the rest of the players then have a limited time (75 seconds) to finish their sentences.
When the time is up, each player shows his/her sentence (one at a time). If everyone agrees it is a grammatically correct sentence, the player gets to add up his score. If someone objects to the sentence, then the player who made the sentence can defend it. If the explanation is satisfactory to the person who objected, the player can add up his score. If the explanation is not satisfactory, then it goes for a vote to all the other players (excluding the player who created the sentence and the objector). If the vote by the players (the jury) is for the player who made the sentence, the objection is "over-ruled" and the player can add up his score. If the vote is against the player who made the sentence, the objection is "sustained" and the score is zero. Whoever reaches the score of 200 or more first wins the game.
With about 540 pentagon cards, the game provides plenty of words to choose from--over 2500. There are also "wild" cards, which can stand for any word you would like to use in your sentence. The wild cards are worth 0 points. Regular words such as am and smart are worth 5 points; less common words such as smarting and fishy are worth 10 points; and more difficult words such as worming and bottoming out are worth 20 points. Each word must be used exactly as it is on the card. You cannot add plurals or apostrophes to a word; that is another use for the wild card. The game retails for $24.95.
Various add-on decks are also available ($7.95 each). Each deck has about 100 cards (or 500 additional words) relating to a particular subject. You mix these cards in with your large deck in order to create even more diverse sentences. For instance, in the Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge (A-L) Add-on Deck, you will find words like haberdasher, innuendo, guile, and decimate. These words are usually worth 10, 15, or 20 points, as they are quite challenging. In the Gourmet Cuisine Add-on Deck you will find words like chef, Rachel Ray, fry, and sprinkle. In the Pop Culture deck you will find words like rap, sang, dance, and iPod. In the Sci-fi Fantasy deck you will find words like CS Lewis, Darth Vader, time travel, and magic wand. In the Sports Highlights deck you will find words like manager, sports, Man O'War, and goal.
Regarding the add-on decks, I really liked the Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge. Half of the words I did not know, and I found it enjoyable to have to learn them and then create a sentence with them. We also liked the Gourmet Cuisine deck and had fun trying to create cooking sentences. Although I could see a family of sports fans really enjoying the Sports Highlights, we did not use them very often. I looked at the Sci-Fi and Pop Culture decks but found too many words I would not want my children to be making sentences with. I personally would not recommend these last two add-ons at all.
It stretches children's grammar skills and gives them an outlet to apply those skills. It exposes them to sentence structure without complicated lessons or worksheets. It even sharpens adults' language skills. I also felt that the time it takes to play the game was a good length of time--not too quick and not too long.
None at this time
My kids and I have had a fun with this game. Once I explained the pun in the title and how the words sentenced, objection, and over-ruled relate to the judicial process, my kids thought it was funny and tried to have an objection on every round.
When you are faced with all of the words before you, it can seem overwhelming. So I would lead my children inn finding the subject and verb and then let them add on words from there. I found that we could not use the sand timer, as the rules called for, or else my younger ones would have had zeros every time. Also, we tended to try to play as many cards as possible, which produced very strange sentences. So children who think very literally may find this a stretch. I played the game with another adult and found that it plays nearly the same way as with children, except we could abide by the time limitations.
In conclusion, my kids and I have really enjoyed this game and have told friends about it. Plus, it is a great way to explain grammar without all the formalities and worksheets. This is highly recommended.