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Every child has some subjects in which they excel, and others in which they struggle. Of course it is usually the subject that needs the most work that the child would least like to work on. Spelling is not my son's strong suit - and it is also his least favourite subject. I do follow a semi structured approach to home education. This means I have set subjects that I feel must be learned - but I'm always happy to find an alternative way for him to learn. I do believe children learn more when a subject interests them - so I have tried to find a few ways to make spelling fun. I remember hangman as game played with paper and pencil - so we tried this, but my son didn't enjoy it anymore than any other written work for spelling. He does enjoy board games though, so I thought I would give this a try.
The game I am reviewing is not the newer Hangman Head to Head Pictured above, but the classic version. When I submitted this suggestion, the classic version was still being sold on Amazon, but it has currently been replaced by the new version, and dooyoo has used the current image.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
Two simple plastic cases, very much like those used for the old Battleship games - one red and one blue.
A plastic wheel which fits onto the case to make the hangman display, along with stickers for the pictures.
Two plastic sheets of letters which must be separated.
Initial set up took ages. I found the plastic letter tiles very difficult to separate. We also had to put the stickers on the wheels, and my accidentally got one out of order. Thankfully it peeled off easily enough and we were able to put in the right place. Finally we had to fit the wheels in place. Once this is finished, subsequent games are a breeze as you only have to open up your case and select your letters to be ready to go.
This is played very much like the original paper and pencil game. Each player chooses a word and places the letters in a rack at the front of their case. Players take it turns to guess a letter. If it is correct - the letter is placed facing out in the appropriate position in the rack at the top of their case, making this visible to person guessing, If it is incorrect their opponent turns the wheel one click revealing a part of a gallows - or the gallows with part of a body swinging from the hangman's noose ( although the noose itself isn't shown. When a whole body is displayed that player has lost - or in our house died - complete with gasping and choking with hands clutched to throat before collapsing in a very melodramatic death.
As an alternate you can place all the tiles on top of the case to begin with facing the person who has made that word. As their opponent guesses letters correctly - these are turned over, but my son did find it difficult to spell his words in reverse when he was younger.
Traditionally, each player should just make up their own words and must be able to spell any word they will be using. This is the way we play now as my oldest is 7 and can spell a reasonable number of words. When my son was very young ( ages 5 -6) I often gave him a book we were reading at the time and we would each choose a word from the book. This makes this game easy and fun for very young players. I feel this also helped my son learn to read and spell the words he was using in his every day school work as well. As he has grown older we tried using spelling lists for awhile, and it does help him to learn the words, but it also made guessing the words quite easy. Now we just choose whatever words we like - although as an adult I do refrain from using words I know he will not be familiar with - where if I were playing with another adult I would choose the most obscure words possible.
The biggest drawback to the plastic version of the game is that your are limited to only 8 letters. This leaves many dinosaur names out of the game. I also find the cases very hard to open, but my son can open them easily enough so I suspect that is just me. There are plenty of tiles and we have never come across a word that needed more of any letter than we have.
I do feel we could have played this game just as well on paper, but my son does prefer to play with the game set - so as long as he is happy - I am happy. I am quite certain this game was beneficial when he was learning to read, and has helped with his spelling as well. It has also helped him to recognise vowels and consonants, as any hangman player will quickly learn to guess the vowels first. I also really like board games as a way to spend quality time with my children. I believe having fun together is an important way to cement family ties. While we do play video games more often than board games now - there is still something special about board games and I believe it is much easier to have a conversation over a board game than in the middle of a video game. I would certainly collect board games even if I did not home educate, but for the home educator, they really do present a perfect way to liven up a dull school day and keep the children engaged.
This game may be harder to find now, but there are still many copies available on ebay. In addition the newer game has a three dimensional body and a three minute timer, but the principle is much the same, and I feel this would be equally good for both fun and educational purposes. The main difference will be that with the newer game, only one person makes a word while the other - or others guess. The new version sells for £16.99 new from Amazon, with used copies being much less. I have found this game online with a company called Adeba for only £6.99 with free delivery - but I have not used this company and so can not give a personal recommendation. I have checked ebay and found used copies of the original version, such as I have from £6.50 including postage. Of course it will be important with a used set to insure you get all of the tiles.
I would recommend this game for children of primary school age. If used with a book, even a child just beginning to read can play. Of course teenagers and adults could play this as well, but in all honesty I can't see it being that much fun for them. it is not a game I would choose to play with other adults - and I tend to be a big child. I would find scrabble far more fun as adults word game - or even Boggle.