Eager to find some educational yet fun and exciting games for my young children, I came across the Junior Scrabble games. I couldn't decide which would be better suited for both children (aged 4 and 6) and so decided to get both the Scrabble Junior board game (Toy Story edition) and the Scrabble Junior Floor Puzzle. The games are fairly different, and while the Scrabble Junior Floor Puzzle is much more suited to my younger child, the Toy Story Junior Scrabble is perfect for my eldest daughter who is currently in year 1 at school. My 6 year old can pretty much read and so we are trying to help her along with her spelling, thinking about how you can create words and how similar they can be. This game is perfect for it.
While it is much more suitable for my eldest daughter, the younger one who loves Toy Story, loves it when we get this game out. She instantly stops what she is doing and comes over to play. While she doesn't necessarily play (more like 'help' mum), I like that it is teaching her about different sounds and what letters look like. She has literally only just gone 4 so is still practicing tracing over her name at nursery etc., but she has started (with a little help from this game) to say 'mummy, that's an a which is for apple'. She loves to look at the box and the board which are covered in Toy Story characters and this definitely draws the children in to a game which some adults find boring (not me! I love Scrabble!), let alone children. It definitely doesn't feel like they are learning, which of course they are.
The game can be played in two ways, with two sides to the board. One is a free play much like the adult version, while the reverse side has printed words connected over the board with a few letters missing in each word. There are short letters and fairly long ones giving it a bit of variety as they become more confident. In this game, we don't add tiles up to get a score, but if a player is able to make up one of the words on the board, they get a blue cardboard counter. The winner at the end is the player with the most counters, although to be honest I don't do it this way, I just make a big thing about how many each player has got and don't compare it with each of them (they haven't cottoned on to this just yet!). My one little niggle with this game is the words which are used. While I appreciate that it is teaching them how to make up words, words like Lotso aren't exactly an everyday word (although perhaps it may be for my 4 year old!).
The alternate game for older children is much like traditional Scrabble but without the scores on each letter. Players gain 1 point for each letter they use, with bonus scoring available through the blue and red dots on the board which increase scores by an extra 2 or 3 points dependant on if it is a blue or red circle. We have tried this game a few times with our eldest daughter and she has taken to it well. We start off with a long but not overly complex word, giving her more of an opportunity to create words by using the available letters. Although she tends to spell fairly simple and relatively short words, she has on occasion tried to spell more complicated words if she feels able. This is a good opportunity to help with spelling and while we let her get away with putting down an incorrectly spelt word, we explain what it should be and praise her effort.
As a four player game, it is perfect for our family, and once we have outgrown the easier side we can continue with the free play game. It could do with a few tweaks here and there but overall, for the price, a good game to introduce words and spelling. All in all a good game if you can pick it up cheaper than it's RRP of £19.99.
My son is in year one at school now and doing really well and to encourage him to continue doing well I like to buy educational games and toys as well as fun ones! One of the things that I bought him for Christmas was the Toy Story edition of the junior scrabble game as he likes Toy Story and I thought this would help him with spellings of words.
The scrabble game comes in a bright and colourful sturdy cardboard box. I have no qualms in saying that this box will last for years as it does seem to be very well made. On the front of the box there are colourful pictures of characters from the Toy Story films including Woody, Buzz, Rex and the aliens!
When you open up the box you have your game board which is two sided, 84 letter tiles, a blue drawstring bag to hold the letter tiles and a selection of small blue counters which are used to score in one of the games. Everything within the game is very well made and I think this is due to the fact that Scrabble is made by Mattel games which to me is a trusted, good quality brand.
Within this game there are two options for you to play as the game is suitable for children aged from 5-10 years:
For the younger children aged around 5-8 you can use the words and pictures side of the board which has pictures of some of the Toy Story characters along with the starting letters of their names. Each player picks five tiles from the bag and then they can put up to two letters down on the board either covering the initial letter of the word or one of the other letters which will spell a Toy Story character. What is great about this version of the game for younger children is that you do not need to place letters in any order so for example the fourth letter may be placed down before the first.
My son and I have played this version of the game a few times and it is a good way to get started with scrabble. I would say that there are a few issues in that the letters that you actually need are quite limited and so you can often find yourself missing a go and exchanging some of your letters in the bag. The way in which you win this game is that each player who finishes off a word on the board takes a blue counter and the one with the most at the end of the game is the winner. What is great about this game though is that it is completely pot luck who wins the game and it does not really come down to great spelling at this age and just who gets the right tiles...though it encourages spelling as the words need to be completed.
When your child is ready there is a more standard looking scrabble board but the board does not have any double letter, triple word spaces and such like as with the adult edition as the letter tiles do not have any numerical value, they are all worth just one point. Instead this board has just red and blue spaces around the board. This game is played in the same way as adult scrabble in that you need to create your own words on the board. One point is scored for each letter you use in your word but you also score an extra two points per every blue space you cover, and an extra three for every red space you cover. The game rules suggest that children should be around seven years of age before you attempt to play this game but I would say I will be playing it much sooner than that with my son as he was already creating words with the tiles we had on the younger version of the game and I see no harm in giving it a go. Of course you know your child and will have an idea as to when they are ready.
I think this game is great as there is so much game play within it because of the fact that it has two different game boards. I know it will last many years with my son and I love the fact that it is something that we can sit down and do together! The game is suitable for up to four players too so if you have a larger family than me you can still have a go together.
My son has really enjoyed playing this game and it will be something that we will continue to do regularly. I would recommend this game for children who are at primary school, perhaps around the five years mark as the game will last them a good few years and will prove to be educational as well as fun. You can pick it up for around £15 if you are interested.
Thank you for reading my review!