Variants/Expansions: There is a Junior version of the game, which includes simpler categories and tiles for the entire alphabet (rather than only 17 letters).
General Overview: Word on the Street is a word-based party game designed for 2-8 players of ages 12+ (8+ for the Junior version of the game). Players are presented with a category, name an item in that category, and move the letters used to spell that item toward them in a “tug of war” fashion. Once a letter is moved off one side of the board, that player (or team, if there are more than two players) claims the letter and it cannot be moved again. Once a player or team claims eight letters, that player or team wins.
- Category Identification – Players need to name items in categories to determine what words they’re spelling.
- Spelling – Word on the Street requires students to spell the words out in order to know what letters to move.
- Phonemic Awareness – As the students work to spell the words, they need to demonstrate or practice phonemic awareness skills.
- Playable “Out of the Box”: This is a game that can be explained and demonstrated with less than five minutes of setup. Modeling game play is easy.
- Variable Challenge Level: Younger students who have a hard time with spelling and/or vocabulary will only be able to create smaller words, but if everyone in the group is at that level, the game’s challenge level, by its nature, adjusts to meet the students’ ability level.
- Multisensory: By physically move the pieces and saying the letter’s name out loud while doing so, a student who has difficulty with spelling or single-modality learning can participate in the activity using visual, kinesthetic, and auditory methods, helping to reinforce concepts.
- Variable Participation: Because this is a game that uses teams, it’s possible to pair two younger or weaker students together against an older or stronger student (or the therapist), allowing the teams to collaborate to give everyone a chance to remain engaged.
- Literacy is required: All the cards have words, and none of the cards (even in the younger versions of the game) have pictures. In addition, spelling the answers is a part of the game, so if spelling is hard for your students, modifications will need to be made.
- Narrow scope: This game is rooted in naming and spelling items in categories. Unlike many Out of the Box games, there isn’t much variability in skills using the components in the box.
- Team game: Because this is a team game, it isn’t as useful for individual therapy unless you participate at the child’s level, which can sometimes make note-taking difficult.
- Therapist participation: The biggest area in which a therapist may need to participate or interfere with the game is to help with spelling. This can be done as a treatment activity by itself to work with phonemic awareness, or done entirely by the therapist to reduce frustration.
- Heavy example use: Using one or two examples of an item that fits into a particular category can really help to jog a student’s memory if he or she is having difficulty.
- The board and letters can be used to add kinesthetic engagement for other tasks with single-word answers.
- The category cards can be combined with a number of other activities to create an entirely different game that reinforces a wide variety of skills.
This game is narrow, but the inherent multisensory and multimodal use of the game’s components make it ideal for the skills it addresses. It’s more popular with my younger students than any other game that requires literacy, and the strategy of trying to think of words that use particular letters keeps older, more capable students engaged.
Has anyone else had experience using this game in therapy? How useful has it been? What other uses and modifications have you used?