Plastic colored disks with letters on them stacked to spell words
Games, K-12, Language Arts

Gifts for the Gifted — Code Stack!

Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) on every November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my 2021 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. 

I love words — reading books, poetry, and song lyrics. But I especially love word games. I’m a bit of a nerd that way, and luckily I have a couple of nerd friends and a daughter who enjoy playing them with me. I enlisted an adult friend to try out Code Stack! with me, and I am going to have to be honest here. One of the reasons I am partial to this game is due to the look of sheer shock she gave me very time I guessed one of her words. I felt psychic, magical, and brilliant. There’s a feeling that I get when I play a spatial game and finally figure it out, which is that satisfactory sense of accomplishment — and then there’s the feeling I get when I play a word game and people look like they want to murder me. That’s the one I get with Code Stack!

Code Stack! is a game for all ages (who can spell and read) that consists of colored plastic disks with letters on them. Each player receives a code card that shows the letters that are on each colored disk. To make a word, you stack the disks in order so that the first letter is on top. In a sense, it reminds me of the code games we used to play with the numbers on rotary telephones.

There are four different games in the instruction booklet that you can try. My friend and I played the first one, “Secret Stack,” where everyone makes a stack and then tries to guess each others’ words. You can decide beforehand what the length of the words will be (we decided on 4-letter words), which is why this is a great game to play with multi-ages. You can differentiate so that younger players only have to make 3-letter words, for example, while adults have to make words with 4 or 5 letters. You can also decide to give points to younger players for guessing a word that could be spelled with the disks in that order, even if it wasn’t the exact word intended by its creator.

The best way to see how it’s played is to watch the short video below.

The three other games are: Secret Stack, Common Codes, and Code Bluff. Common Codes can be played as a solitaire game as well as a multi-player game, where you just choose a certain number of disks to place in the center and try to make as many words as you can using the disks.

If you’re buying this for your classroom, you could challenge students to make some of the content vocabulary words they are studying, so there is an aspect of “Extendability.” Though there are several pieces, it’s not overwhelming (and you could design your own if one is lost), and the pieces are durable. Strategy-wise, you may want to try to think of words that have unusual spellings to make it more difficult for others to guess, and that also brings in a bit of creativity.

Although you can find this game in the usual places, I am trying to encourage purchasing from independent stores. So, I found a place in Austin called Terra Toys, to which I am going to link.

Amigo, the creator of Code Stack!, has a number of other games, so you may want to take a look at their website to see if any others catch your eye.

Good luck, and maybe don’t play the game with an opponent who may be tempted to throw disks at you after you’ve guessed their word first for the fourth time in a row…

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