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Oscar and the Lady
Alphabet Soup
Christmas Teakettle
Speed Scrabble
Nonsense Poetry
Sausages and Mash

Alphabet Soup

Jane: I've always loved playing word games but have a hard job to get anyone else in the family interested. They'd rather play Apples to Apples (great with lots of people) or current hot favourite 221B Baker Street (a retro Sherlock Holmes mystery-solving board game where the detecting is surprisingly hard). So this weekend I concocted a word game which pretends at first that it isn't a word game because it involves lots of colouring in. I've called it Alphabet Soup and it's really simple for all ages over about five to play. 

First you draw the letters of the alphabet on a sheet of A3 paper and ask the children to decorate them so they look beautiful. One person then rolls five counters on to the paper to land on different letters (younger children can choose just three letters to make it easier). Everyone writes down these letters at the top of a piece of blank paper. The person who rolled then chooses two extra vowels which are added to the list, to give seven letters in total. The idea is for everyone to make as many three-, four-, five-, six- and seven-letter words as they can from these letters. You can put a 10-minute time limit on it, or just wait until everyone has finished playing – it doesn’t usually take long.
Some letter mixes are so tricky you can hardly make any words, while with others you’ll have columns of three- and four-letter words piling up. It’s good fun and great for learning how to spell those tricky ‘don’t sound-like’ words – for example we discovered that ‘jem’ is spelt ‘gem’ and that although ‘more’ is ‘more’ there is also another kind of ‘maw’ as well...