Cindy Smith is a graduate student in Educational Technology at San Diego State University. In her free time she is developing software in Delphi and learning Java.
The game is designed to be played during or after class to reinforce words already learned as well as to introduce new words they may not have studied yet.
The object of the game is to form sets of two or three cards which are synonyms. The dealer deals seven cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down on the table to form the draw pile. Play proceeds clockwise from the dealer.
The first player to go out (have no more cards in his hand) wins. If a time limit is set instead, the winner is the player with the most cards on the table at the end of the predetermined time period.
Every card in the deck is related to at least one, probably two or three, other cards in the deck which are listed down the left side of the card in its synonym list. These related cards form a synonym set.
Design Process: I woke up in the middle of the night thinking "I have to do a vocabulary game!" Originally I envisioned a rummy-type game then decided that Go Fish was a better structure for what I was trying to accomplish. Cards are primarily visual, Go Fish brings the auditory senses to the learning/game playing process.
The design of the cards themselves took a while. My first thought was to put the word at the top to the left, having the synonyms going down the side of the card on the left also. When I made up some practice cards and played the game, I found that configuration confusing. Because playing the game requires reading the synonyms, they needed to stay on the left side of the card so they could be read easily. Placing the word to the top right of the card allows a hand to be fanned to read the synonyms or stacked with just the top of the cards visible to read the words.
I targeted this game to high school students studying for the SAT but with the right word list it could be targeted towards any group. I would like to have has something like this when I was brushing up my vocabulary for the GRE.
Variations: The cards could have been designed with only the word and a definition on the card, no synonyms. The game would be played the same way, but the difference in the design of the cards would make it a more advanced game. An answer sheet would need to be supplied in case players could not determine synonyms from the definitions.
References: Word Smart (1995). The Princeton Review. New York, NY: Villard Books.
Last updated by Cindy Smith on September 29, 1996.
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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1996.