Word on the Street

Designed by: Jack Degnan

Number of Players: 2 to 8

Grade Levels: Middle School and Up

Length: 45 Minutes

Curricular Connections: ELA – Vocabulary, Word Structure, Spelling

Investment: Low
Return: High

The word on the street is “SCORE” for Out of the Box. Yet another engaging game that gets students working with language. I brought my review copy of Word on the Street to work with several sixth grade classes on English and Language Arts skills and this was the runaway hit. The combination of teamwork and competition brought out the best in the students as they worked together to brainstorm and agree on the most strategic word choices each round. They listened and gave suggestions, switching between leadership and support roles organically without teacher prompts. They grew as learners and leaders… but most importantly they had fun!

Gameplay is relatively simple, a staple with Out of the Box’s publishing vision. Students work in teams trying to capture letters by moving them over to their side of the street. Teams alternate turns working out the best word choice for a given category prompt. A “type of cake” or “something hollow” are good examples of the types of questions that come in the box.

Once the card is pulled, the timer is flipped and students race to agree upon and spell out the word they have chosen. As they spell out the word, they slide the consonants that line the street over towards them, moving a lane for each time the consonant appears in the word. So a word like “banana” would move the “B” over once and the “N” over two lanes. If a team is able to move a letter 3 lanes over towards them the capture the letter but it’s not that easy. The other team will be doing pulling on the same letters toward their side, creating a linguistic “tug-of-war”.

This mechanic is one of the game’s strongest points as students now need to think strategically about their word choices. Initially, students will be choosing words that are laden with consonants to get the ball rolling, but soon they will become more selective, choosing words that are heavy in consonants that are close to being captured by the other team.

Word on the Street has students building and reinforcing vocabulary in an engaging and meaningful way. They are learning from their peer’s choices as well as strengthening their own vocabulary base, powerful stuff. Add to that the fact that Out of the Box understands schools and school libraries and has provided templates for making your own word prompt that print on Avery® Name Badge Inserts #5390, and you have a wonderful tool for guided practice.

My only suggestion from play experience is to ingore the rule suggestion to allow the opposing team to shout out distrations during play. It is more counter productive than enjoyable and lessens the fun factor of the game. That aside, Word on the Street is a huge success with middle school students and an excellent choice for strengthing the English and Language Arts skills of students.