What is it that takes a home school from the routine of learning day after day to a real joy? A game! And The Great Word Race did it for our family. This was the most fun we have had while learning in a long time. The Great Word Race is fun for all ages from six to adult. We played it with all five of my children, ages five through 15. Admittedly, though, the five-year-old was teamed up with another family member as an "assistant." A great time was had by all as we made our way from start to finish building words using letter dice, word tiles, cards, and some strategy.
The game is played with two to four players, although we teamed up to allow more in the game. This also leveled the playing field since we had various skill levels. All players begin at the start circle. The object of the game is to get to the finish circle first. This is accomplished by rolling six dice with all the letters of the alphabet on their six sides. Then the player tries to make the longest word possible, because the number of letters used determines how many spaces the player may move on the board. Several spaces on the board add variety to the game process. There are the typical "move 2 more spaces" or "move back 2 spaces." "Double your spaces" allows you to move the same number of spaces that you moved to get there. This, of course, is a highly sought after space!
Other desirable spaces on the board that we found we were trying to reach were the "Pick a card" squares. At this point, you pick a rectangular card from its pile, which may help you form your word on your next turn and get you closer to your destination. It may say "Free letters" "If your next word ends with these letters, move 2 extra spaces," "If your next word is 4 or more letters, move 2 extra spaces," or "You can add one of the following consonants to your next turn B, D, or H." This makes the player put some thought into their choice of words in order to achieve the bonus spaces. Another strategy we found ourselves working for was the spaces that gave you ownership of a letter for life! For example, the "Keep an A for life" permitted you to pick up the "Keep an A for life" card to hold for the remainder of the game and use that additional letter any time it was needed. These little twists in the game made for a fun competition between teams or players.
The Great Word Race instructions are written so clearly that we were quickly on our way to learning and enjoyment. I also discovered some variations to customize the game for us. As we were trying to create words, we began turning to the dictionary to find out if the word was real or not. This added dictionary skill building without my kids knowing it and without any complaints. Also, you could give extra spaces if they use a word from their current spelling list. I can't see any problems with this game as it combines amusement with the development of these skills: spelling, vocabulary, thinking, and socialization. It is an excellent diversion during the "school day" while not really getting away from learning. Highly recommended!