Practising spelling and logical thinking


Also in lockdown, my son’s school day starts with a spelling dictation. At the moment, it is mainly about the Dutch spelling rules: de bakker (baker the) and de jager (the hunter) rule. Bakker? Jager? It all has to do with short vowels (the ‘a’ in Dutch: bakker)  and long sounded vowels (the ‘aaaa’ in Dutch: jaaaager)

Miss Letter Jam

Since spelling is still a thing, I was able to deploy my new game nicely: Letter Jam. Letter Jam is a game for 2 – 6 people in which you have to guess 5-letter words. A great way to practise spelling unobtrusively.

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Each player gets a pile of letter cards. From those cards, she secretly chooses five to make a word out of. Once everyone has made a word, you pass the five cards closed to the player to your right. That player will now guess your word.

You do this by shuffling the cards and placing them face-down in front of you, one by one. One card goes into the stand. Everyone gets to see that card, except you. This is a bit of a problem: you have to sit in such a way that you can see everyone’s cards (but not your own).

You guess the word by giving each other hints. And with that comes cooperation in this game. Beforehand, you discuss who has good hints and what kind of hints they are. This discussion is subject to a number of rules. For instance, you have to keep it a bit general: ‘I have a 6-letter word, which helps 3 players.’ You are not allowed to point out exactly who it is about or what word it is.

To encourage all players to come up with hints, there is the flower that sits in the middle of the table. This feels somewhat artificial, but ensures that everyone gets an equal turn: on the flower are red and green chips. When you have decided with the group that you will give the hint, you take a red token. You are only allowed 1 (or 2, depending on the number of players) red tokens. And you may only take a green token once all the red petals have been distributed. In this way, the game encourages everyone to make an active contribution.

Think of a hint that will help everyone

And then Letter Jam

begins with the first hint. You don’t pronounce the word, but you put a number by the letters you use. For example, I see number 1 next to my opponent’s letter p and I also see number 2 next to my card. If the hint is a 3-letter word, I can deduce that my card is a vowel. But is it an a or an e or a u? For that, I need more hints.

Preferably, therefore, you give each other hints that provide as much information as possible. For example, through longer words. Or you make a guess, but decide to leave your card for a second round to be completely sure. After all, if you think you know, you put your card down closed and put the next card in the stand.

Auxiliary cards and jokers

Sometimes you want to give a hint, but there are no vowels on the table at all. Or you really can’t think of anything without n. Fortunately, then there is the * joker. It is always on the table and you can use it. Depending on the number of players, there are also auxiliary cards that you can use and that you keep renewing.

And despite all these aids, it is extremely difficult to guess the word! When all the red and green tokens are gone, that heralds the final round of the game: puzzling. After all, you have been given 5 letters, but probably not in the right order. Using the information you have gathered, try to guess the word that your neighbour/husband had made at the beginning of the game. Letter Jam is thus a really challenging puzzle game, in which you have to pay very close attention to your spelling!

Puzzles can be played from 2, preferably with more cooperation

We played the game both with 2 and 3 people. The puzzling is fun, it is fun to think about the hints and to wonder: “what does he mean by this!”. But the aspect of working together and deliberating on the hints, doesn’t come out so well with a small group. Actually, you don’t deliberate then, but take turns giving a hint. No problem in itself, but if you are looking forward to deliberating and discussing, you should really play it with more people.

Buy Letter Jam

General information about Letter Jam

  • number of players: 2 – 6 people
  • time: between 30 and 45 minutes. Especially take time to puzzle on your word at the end.
  • from: 10+ it says on the box, I think children can handle this younger in terms of spelling too. More difficult is combining information. If necessary, let them use a language book or spelling book with it.
  • price: €19.95

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