Look Mom, I'm Reading
Having my own son who is learning to read, I was excited to give Er-u-di-tion a try. As a former elementary school teacher with 10+ years of experience, I understand the benefits of mastering high-frequency sight words early on. I also understand how important it is that games for sight words keep learning playful, fun and informal so as to encourage a child's natural "curiosity about language and their experimentation with it." (Yopp, 1992.)
The game itself is colorful, attractive and well-designed. The layout reminded us of a cross between Candy Land and Shoots and Ladders. Since these are two family favorites, my five year old couldn't wait to give it a go! Luckily, the directions were simple, easy to follow, and well articulated. There is nothing worse than telling a small child they will have to wait to play a new game while mom deciphers how!
Here is what the Sight Word Games website says about play:
"Er-u-di-tion jump-starts the road to reading. The game takes players on a fun adventure through literacy land, complete with common land marks and street signs. You will enjoy an ice cream cone, encounter a construction site, ride a train and play on a playground. Recognize a sight word and you earn a bonus roll. Be the first player to reach the library and you are a winner!"
The creators left no detail overlooked. They even mention that the board is designed to "move your child's pawn in the same direction we read," and encourage parents to "please note this to beginner level players to reinforce that we read left to right and top to bottom." Also included with the game was a pamphlet of "Teaching Tips" for extending the play. The Bossards must really understand that with children, even games provide opportunity for a "teachable moment!"
My son and I played several rounds of the game right in a row, and soon even my 9 and 11 year old sons were joining in. The best part? We could all play the games for sight words practice, because the cards are categorized by reading level. Children of different ages and abilities can play together while each working on the skills they personally need to develop - be it letter/sound recognition, word recognition, vocabulary development, word comprehension or even spelling practice. It is easy to see why Er-u-di-tion received the 2009 Creative Toy - Game of the Year Award.