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A make-your-own word game

By Bruce Van Patter

To Play Scrubwords:

Just select 10 random tiles from a Scrabble box. Try to see how many totally new words you can create. Real words don't count. For instance, here are the letters I had to work with. What new words could you make with these?

Here are a few I invented:

Jarbie: noun. Someone who acts too happy and peppy.

Drube: noun. Someone who's brain has been dulled by watching too much T.V. Could also be used as an adjective to describe a really stupid show -- "What a drubish sitcom."

Unijab: verb. when a group of people all poke someone at the same time.

I have absolutely no idea what this word means, but I wanted to use all my tiles.

And my personal favorite:

Dinja: noun. Specially trained wild Australia attack dogs skilled in martial arts.

Or, it could be an accusation: "You took the last twinkie, dinja?"

Other words I came up with:

• junder
• harbie
• bruden
• jiber
• unibread

Below you will see my idea for turning this exercise into a game. But don't be daunted by that. It's tremendous fun just to create new words. Make up words and come up with your own definitions. You'll find lots of laughter just in that!

Here's how you can play Scrubwords:

I've posted a page of weird English words. They're actual words; some are just not widely known, others are old and forgotten. Write individual words you want to use on separate cards, one word per card, along with the definition.

Make teams. In a classroom, you could have up to 9 teams; there are enough tiles to go around and have some left over. If doing this at home, you can play it as individuals or teams, but since you saw the actual words, you won't be able to play.

Each team gets 10 tiles, a wooden letter stand, and one card with a real word. Give them a set time to come up with words. They should try to silently arrange the letters to spell words, so as not to give them away, and other teams should be encouraged not to peak, since it may be easier to make the words flat on the table rather than arrange them on the stand. As they go, they should write down the words they come up with.

When the time is done, each team then reads off their four best words AND the actual word on the card. They'll need to do this as smoothly as possible, so as not to give away the real word. The other teams then vote for which word is the real one. After the votes are tallied -- the "reading" team gets points for guesses on their invented words; the guessers get a point for choosing the actual word -- then the team can read the definition of the actual word.

For an extra level of difficulty, you could write quick definitions for each invented word, but I'm thinking that would drag out each round.


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all material © 2006 Bruce Van Patter