Eliza is an amazing university student who has been working at London Public Library this summer as a Literacy Facilitator (thanks to a Canada Summer Jobs grant). She works one-on-one with children who struggle to read or lack confidence in their abilities. She has 'invented' a game she calls SPLAT that helps kids learn word families. Her fellow Literacy Facilitators at other branch libraries have tried it out and and found that it works really well as a teaching tool and kids really love it!
Here is how to create and play SPLAT (from Eliza herself!):
Basically, it's Uno, which a lot of kids like, but with word families instead. I decided on four word families (-in, -all, -eep, -op), and chose 11 words for each. I cut some cardstock-like paper into 4" x 2.5" rectangles and wrote in four different colours (red, blue, yellow, green). On each card, I wrote one word, and alternated the colours for each card, so that there are multiple cards of each colour in each word family. I then wrote out cards which read 'Skip your turn', 'Reverse', and 'Pick up 2 cards', one in each colour. I also made four cards which said 'Wild', with each letter written in a different colour. If you play a wild card, you choose which colour the next card has to be. I also wrote 'Splat!' across the back of each card in purple.
It's played by the rules of Uno. Everyone gets 7 cards. One card is turned face up in the middle. The first person plays a card which is either the same colour or rhymes with the word in the middle. I try to get them to read the word on the card; sometimes, they are willing and sometimes not. If not, then I read the word to them. Then it is the next player's turn. If you don't have a card you can play, then you have to pick one up from the leftovers. When you have 1 card left, you say 'Splat!'. If another player calls 'Splat!' before you do, you must pick up 4 cards. The first person to get rid of all of their cards wins.
The kids tend to go into the game thinking it's going to be lame, but end up having so much fun. I've played it with 7 year olds and 11 year olds, and they all enjoy it. If you're looking for a new game to try out with your kids, I'd recommend this one!