Mr. Magnet's
Sentence Scramble



Tarryn Smith
Carrie Semik


| Instructional Objective | Learners & Context | Object of Game | Game Materials | Time Required |

| Rules | Design Process | Diagrams | References |

Instructional Objective

The learners form sentences on the board using magnetic tiles representing various parts of speech. The object is to use the word tiles to construct a sentence. This game seeks to encourage learners to use adjectives and adverbs in their descriptive writing while reinforcing skills related to proper sentence structure.

Learners & Context of Use

This game is designed for primary learners (grades 1-3), ages six and up. Students should be reading at a level equivalent to that of a late first grader and have met the first-grade state writing standards.

This game is recommended for use in a classroom environment, primarily as a learning center with heterogeneous groups or as a teaching tool in small homogeneous groups with teacher guidance. It is important that the game be modeled by the teacher before being used as an independent learning center. This game is intended to be used repeatedly for practice of previously described standards.

Object of the Game

The object is to use the word magnets to construct a sentence. Each player competes by creating their own sentences while manipulating and extending the sentences of other players in order to be the first player to use all their word magnets.

Game Materials

Time Required

This game is designed for 2 to 4 players. Game set-up takes approximately 5 minutes and any one game requiring 20-30 minutes to play with variation in time depending on the level of difficulty played.

Game Instructions


1. Place gameboard on detachable base.
2. Select appropriate word magnets and place in grab bag (see difficulty levels).
3. Shake grab bag to thoroughly mix up words.
4. Each player chooses 10 words and places them on their personal magnet boards.


Each word magnet is labeled with a number that represents a skill level as follows:

1 - Beginning (early first-grade readers)
2 - Intermediate (early second-grade readers)
3 - Advanced (early third-grade readers)

All adjectives have been labeled with a 2 or 3 to correspond to their greater level of difficulty.


1. Each player rolls the dice and the player with the highest number goes first.
2. The timer is turned over giving the first player a time limit to create a complete sentence on the gameboard, with the intent on using as many of his word magnets as possible. Player must place the sentence in order on the gameboard.
3. If the player cannot form a complete sentence in the time allowed, he must draw a Mr. Magnet card and follow the instructions given.


1. Each player must place a complete sentence on the gameboard or build upon an existing sentence with one or more of their words to complete their turn. The timer must be turned over for each new player.
2. If the player is unable to use any of their words on their turn, he is required to draw a Mr. Magnet card and follow the instructions given.
3. The first player to get rid of all their words wins the game.


Mr. Magnet cards are drawn when the player cannot use any of their word magnets appropriately on a turn. Player must take the card on the top of the Mr. Magnet pile. Read the card to the group and lose or collect word magnets as described on the card. Return the card to the bottom of the stack.

Sentence Saver cards are wild cards that a player can hold on to and use in the event that an unfavorable Mr. Magnet card is drawn. When using the Sentence Saver card, the player must replace the Mr. Magnet card to the bottom of the pile and discard the used Sentence Saver card. There are 4 Sentence Saver cards and each card can only be used once during a game.


1. Players are not allowed to use double adjectives or adverbs (i.e. adjectives that need to be separated
by a comma).
2. The blank white magnets may be used as any words. When playing a blank, the player must state which letter it represents. It remains that letter for the rest of the game.
3. The inflectional ending magnets (i.e. -es, -s, -ed, -ing) are to be used to create grammatically correct sentences. They count the same as a single word magnet.



Our desire was to create a game designed for young learners that involved working with words to construct sentences. Teachers are always interested in creating effective learning centers that engage students while at the same time providing opportunities for students to practice educational skills. We began to focus on the state writing standards including the use of descriptors in writing and sentence structure. We realized these writing standards are represented across grade levels which allowed us to design a learning game with variations in play providing the opportunity for students in several grades to practice their skills in building sentences.

We found ourselves gathering ideas for our game based on our own experiences with similar games like Scrabble and Magnetic Poetry. We had considered giving the word tiles point values based on the part of speech it represented with adverbs scoring the highest much like in the game of Scrabble. However, we decided against this realizing that our young learners would be hindered by the math and would be distracted from the learning objective which focused on writing skills. On the other hand, our game does include the same concept represented in Scrabble in that players place tiles on the gameboard to create varied patterns of speech and our gameboard also includes a detachable base to allow the gameboard to spin for the convenience of the players. We decided to use magnetic tiles such as in the game Magnetic Poetry because it would be more convenient for young players to maintain the order of the words and allows the players to easily manipulate and extend sentences already present on the gameboard.

The objectives were clear but in researching about learner motivation and game delivery the game itself seemed rather dull. We began to discuss possibly using a race format surrounding the outer edge of the gameboard which included players moving ahead spaces for the amount of words placed on the board. We expanded our idea to include setbacks and challenges present on the game path to improve player motivation and competition. Once again we realized that the race concept created an entirely new dimension to the game that was distracting rather than beneficial. However, during this design process we did come upon the idea to include action cards that would create competition, motivation, chance and a flavorful dimension to the game with the added benefit of creating a great deal of movement among the word tiles extending play time.

We finalized our ideas after working with some first-grade students and various word tiles in an attempt to create sentences. Although the students displayed interest, it was apparent that they required a good deal of teacher support. This helped us to formulate the difficulty levels and decide to color code the various parts of speech to help with sentence structure. The feedback was also helpful in designing the prototype gameboard because the students were using a lot of area on the board to create their sentences. We concluded to use colors to create spatial dimensions on the gameboard thereby giving students a visual aid in creating linear sentences. The amount of feedback we gained from actually playing the game with future users was truly helpful and certainly a rule to follow in the design of any game prototype.



Gameboard Setup

Mr. Magnet Card Front

Mr. Magnet Back of Card Example

Sentence Saver Back of Card


Books & Journals

* Taylor, John L. & Walford, R. (1978). Learning and the Simulation Game. Beverly Hills: Sage
* Ellington, H., Addinall, E., & Percival, F. (1982). A handbook of game design. London: Kogan Page.


*Scrabble Crossword Game
*California State Standards
*Magnetic Poetry Game


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Last updated October 2002