At this time of year, parents are asking me for fun games that also promote learning–especially for emerging or new readers. Yesterday I was at the home of a kindergartner and mom showed me a laminated  list of sight words that was sent home for memorizing–ug, how boring! I said I had a much more exciting way to learn these words through ThinkFun’s Zingo! Sight Words. She wrote it down and was off to get it for Christmas.

Two of my recent PAL Award winners are games by SimplyFun, a company dedicated to building smarter kids and stronger families. Spell Trek and Word Bits both are beginning word games that reinforce spelling and reading skills through a creative, high quality board game. Here is my full review of Spell Trek:

Hop on a jeep and start your trip across a game board of desert, ice capped mountains, rain forest and tropics. You are trying to capture animals and sites by photograph but the vowels are missing in your pictures! Complete the word cards by filling in the vowels to advance to win. Each player draws three Word Cards illustrated and named (minus the vowels) with animals, plants, or places from a squid, snake, and moth to vine, grass or sky. A parent opened the word cards and said, “Cute, cute, cute–the faces on the animals are delightfully happy, affecting the personality of the game.” I agree–Simply Fun’s trademark quality and graphics are evident again in Spell Trek.  Players take turns drawing a Vowel Tile to add to their Word Cards. If you can’t use the vowel, and it can be played on an opponent’s card, you can trade your empty card for theirs. With a completed word, you advance the number of spaces as you have letters in your word. Players are required to spell their completed words out loud as they advance, adding to the learning as they say the spelling as well as see it.  Reading and spelling skills are reinforced as players have to fill in a short three-letter word like b_t, or a five-letter sq_ _ d, while deciding to work on quickly completed short words or be patient and finish the longer words to advance more spaces. Learning vowels can be tricky, especially when they are silent like in “road.” Thankfully, Spell Trek has found a way to make spelling words and learning vowels rewarding and fun!

Spell Trek is available at Simply Fun: Click here


The above games were provided by their companies for review for the PAL Award. The opinions in this review are solely those of the author.