Games, K-12, Language Arts

Fourword Word Ladder Game

UPDATE 6/19/2022: Liam at Fourword just notified me that he built a new section of the site just for teachers so you can make your own 4-letter word ladders! Click here to make a custom Fourword puzzle!

In yesterday’s post about Spellie, the Wordle variation designed for younger players, I referred to the original post by Jacob Cohen where I found that link and many more. Another daily online puzzle he made me aware of is called, “Fourword.” This is a word ladder game, where you are given a beginning and ending word, then tasked with changing one letter at a time of the beginning word to make the ending word in as few moves as possible. Each step of the “ladder” has to spell a real word. I find it to be quite as addictive as Wordle, so it’s now on my home screen as one of the daily games I do when I need a break from work or crazy dogs.

Play Fourword here.

According to this post by Ian Byrd, Word Ladders were invented by Lewis Carroll. Donna Lasher, in an article about language fun for younger students, was the first one to introduce me to the Word Ladder books for elementary students, which you can see by clicking on the affiliate link in her post. If you want to make your own Word Ladder puzzles, here is a generator (FYI, there is a minor grammatical issue when you print out the instructions). And here are some printable ones — definitely for older students. This page gives you suggested games and solutions, which I find quite helpful. Sporcle also has Word Ladder Quizes, though mostly designed for age 10 and up. Of course, it’s inevitable that you can find a way to cheat (I mean, “get hints that give you the actual answers”) on the internet, so I’ll save you some time searching for that site by linking a Word Ladder solver here.

I’ll be adding this post, along with Jacob Cohen’s “Puzzles for Progress” site, to my “Brainteasers and Puzzles” Collection. You can go there or directly to my Wordle Variations collection for links to specific Wordle games. And, visit my Wakelet home page if you’d like to follow me for updates or see my other collections.

Critical Thinking, Games, K-12, Language Arts

Spellie

Yesterday, I landed on the goldmine of Wordle blog posts. I thought I had collected most of the Wordle variations, and then I read this post by Jacob Cohen. After adding most of the links in his post, I ended up with 54 Wordle-type games in my Wakelet collection (I think I had something like 36 before). There are sudoku and crossword versions, a Morse code version, and several that I think will make my brain explode if I try them. Since my blog audience is mostly teachers, I was conscious as I added each link of whether or not it might be good for the classroom. Most of them definitely appeal to very niche audiences, but when I saw Spellie I realized I needed to spread the word.

Spellie is designed for children, or perhaps people trying to learn the English language. It has three modes: easy, medium, hard. According to the rule page, “The easy puzzle uses short words within the Grade 2 vocabulary. The hard mode is challenging, but uses words within the Grade 5 vocabulary.” Easy mode has 4 letter words, while the other two have 5.

I will admit right now that I was completely humiliated by the easy mode. And, trust me, it was not a difficult word.

Terri is no good at Spellie

In my defense, I had gotten sidetracked by another game Cohen suggested (that I’ll be blogging about tomorrow), and my brain seemed to have difficulty changing modes.

Back to Spellie, you can collect little emojis as you guess words, which is a fun bonus.

As a reminder, for those of you wanting to bring Wordle into the classroom, don’t forget there is a Flippity version where you can customize your list with your own words. You can also customize Spello with your own lists, and it will read a word out loud, so students can try to guess the correct spelling.

You can find all of these and more on my Wordle Variations Wakelet. Want to get updates and see my other public collections? Visit this page.

Critical Thinking, Games, Geography, Math

“World” le, Confirmation Bias, and Combinatorics

Yes, you read that correctly and no, it’s not a spelling error. Jumping on the Wordle bandwagon, we now have a geography quiz called “Worldle.” Like its inspiration, it is a daily quiz that gives you six guesses. In this case, however, you are trying to identify a country or territory, the outline of which appears at the top. Your guesses are rated on “the distance, the direction and the proximity from your guess and the target country.” It looks like my average number of guesses needed will be 4, equivalent to my skill at the game that started this all.

Speaking of the original Wordle, there have been lots of comments bandied about on social media that the word list was changed when the New York Times bought the game. I was surprised to see this speculation was correct — well, sort of. People were suspecting the New York Times was trying to make the quiz more “bougie” or “elitist” with more difficult words, but apparently NYT didn’t add any words to the list. According to this hard-hitting, get-to-the-bottom-of-things report from People, they actually removed some words that they thought were too obscure or offensive (the latter was reported by the BBC). If you’ve played the game today (#247), then you will probably agree that the word was neither bougie or offensive. In a response to the flying rumors, @mjshally wrote an interesting thread on Twitter about this being a good example of confirmation bias. If you teach grades 6-12, the Wordle Word Wars could be a gateway to this lesson on confirmation bias from Newseum Ed.

Just in case you missed it, Donna Lasher has lessons for grades K-2 and 3-6 on combinations and permutations that are fabulous tie-ins to games like Wordle and everyday uses like passwords and license plates. I’ve added the link to her lesson, the Worldle link, and an Octordle link to my Wordle Variations collection here. And don’t forget you can follow all of my collections here.

BTW: Tomorrow is Twos Day! If you aren’t prepared, here are some ideas!

Games, K-12, Language Arts, Math

Let’s Talk About Twos Day

Thanks to my friend, Jenness, for reminding me that next Tuesday is a rare date! It will be 2/22/22 (for those of us in the US; some others may write it as 22/2/22), and let’s all recognize that’s not going to happen again for a very long time. I know this post is last minute, but unlike some people in Indiana who seem to think lesson plans can be set in stone before the school year even begins, good teachers know that making adjustments for current events and student needs and fun is important 😉

I thought about adding some resources to my February Wakelet, but since Twos Day isn’t actually an annual event — and probably won’t happen again in my lifetime– I decided just to put them in this blog post. Some teachers with a whole lot more forethought than me have some ideas for you, so here are a few I thought you might like:

If you see any others that would be good to include (free, particularly for 3rd and up, different than what I’ve listed so far), please comment here or e-mail me at engagetheirminds@gmail.com! Also, don’t forget that you can visit that February Wakelet for Presidents Day (Feb. 21) Resources!

3-12, Games, Math, Websites

A Puzzle A Day

I sing the praises of the Mathigon website quite a bit on this blog, but I know that many of you don’t have the time to dig deep into all that the site has to offer. Here is a really easy way to get started using its Polypad tool, “A Puzzle A Day.” If you happen to have any digital devices with internet access, this would be a good station for your classroom or a fun challenge for early finishers, and the great thing is that you don’t have to do a thing to change the puzzle each day. Players need to place all of the pentomino pieces on the board so the correct date is left visible. It’s good for spatial reasoning (which, as you know, I strongly support) and, of course, students will need to know the date to do it correctly! Here is a link to the instructions, an example, and another puzzle where you can use spinners to randomly generate the date.

You can find more Mathigon Puzzles and Games here, including a digital version of Genius Square, which was one of my Gifts for the Gifted recommendations last year.

I’ll be adding this to my Brainteasers and Puzzles collection. And don’t forget that you can follow all of my collections here.

set of empty white papers attached on pink wall
Games, K-12, Teaching Tools

All The Things

My posts are usually about one topic, but I have so many random things to share today that I just decided to go with a list!

  • I just added a link to my Wordle Variations Wakelet for Flippity WordMaster! Now you can create your own custom Wordles for class with lists of words!
  • Speaking of Wakelet, you may have missed my Lunar New Year post on Friday where I shared the link for my February Wakelet. If you look at it on a desktop/laptop screen, you will see columns for different February events, including Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and the Superbowl! Please share anything you think I need to add! February is technically Black History Month, but I choose to celebrate an inclusive history all year, so I have a link to my Anti-Racist Wakelet in the February list as well. Follow me for more Wakelet collections here!
  • I hope this embeds correctly as it is a Tweet from Yo-Yo Ma that he dedicated to teachers, and it’s beautiful, and all of you deserve it right now!
  • Lastly, I am really, really planning to have my first online course, An Intro To Genius Hour, out tomorrow, February 1st (fingers crossed). It will be free for a limited time, so be sure to sign up to be notified! You will get one hour of continuing education credit (always check with your administrator to make sure they will accept it in your district).