I (Cathy), my family, and friends have been playing many different kinds of ‘party’ games as of late . Some have boards, in some you create the board as you play, and with others there are just cards. One of my favorites is a game called Codenames.
This game intrigues me because it is similar to coding data in a study as it’s about making associations between words, categorizing, and/or generalizing. (There is a narrative component to the game where everyone is considered a spy, but we just ignore all that). It can be played in teams or individually.
In this game many word cards are laid out in a grid across the table (25). One person is designated the clue giver and gives his/her team (or other person) a word and a number. The clue word might be ‘flight’ and the number might be ‘2’. The team then has to identify two words in the word grid they think are associated with flight. The challenge for the clue giver is they may not pick just any words they want in the grid to associate. They may only use certain assigned words and sometimes it is very difficult to make associations. The challenge for the team is, if they pick the wrong word, the point goes to the opposition.
Let’s have a trial run… Your clue is ‘weapons, 2”
If you guessed pistol and missile, you just won two points for your team. Let’s try one more, but a little bit more challenging this time! Your clue is ‘Olympics, 3’
If you guessed Bolt, Greece, and Beijing, you earned another three points. (If this is mystifying to you, Usain Bolt set the world record for the 100 m dash at the Beijing Olympics, and Greece is the birth place of the Olympics).
This is a wonderful means of exploring word meanings and associations. It is also interesting how so many words can be both verbs and nouns, or connected as possible compound words, or have special meaning depending on culture and context. (Knowing your teammates well also helps, as I find I can understand my husband’s clues better than other people can). On many levels it is a great pass time with friends and also a great language game for the classroom. It is also, on many levels, literacies in action!