The Benefits Of Scrabble…By CBS News

Did you know that ET and HM are two-letter words? Et is a past tense of eat. Hm is allowed as the interjection, “hmmmm.” Building vocabulary, as CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith learned in her Study Hall report, is why Scrabble has found new life as a game and as a learning tool.

Katie Devanney may look and act like a regular 13-year-old. But what sets her apart is her way with words.

She can take any word and scramble its letters to make several other words, right off the top of her head. It’s a skill she developed playing Scrabble -not just at home, but in a club at school. And she’s good, really good.

Ellen Hildenbrand, the club’s adviser, says she has played Katie in Scrabble, and Katie wins every time.

Asked the reason behind having Scrabble at school, Hildenbrand says, “It teaches kids to spell. I think spelling skills are important. It teaches them to add. There’s an awful lot of mathematical skill involved in counting up words in all different directions.”

The game’s become a popular tool for teachers: Today, 20,000 schools across the country have some sort of Scrabble program.

John Williams, executive director of the National Scrabble Association says, “The single phrase that resonates through this whole school Scrabble program is they’re learning and they don’t even realize it.”

Once a year, the National Scrabble Association holds a tournament with a $5,000 top prize.

Williams says, “This event is kind of the Woodstock, the Boston marathon, the Super Bowl, whatever name you want to throw out, of Scrabble for kids.”

Smith attended one held in Boston in March. Katie was there and happy to let the correspondent in on her strategy.

Katie says, “They call me Katie Dephony, because I play a ton of phonies.”

Phonies are fake words, which are perfectly legal as long as your opponent doesn’t challenge you. Looking at her eyes, it is hard to tell if she is playing a phony, so Katie and her partner won this round.

Katie’s team came in third overall. But win or lose, her dad says those little letters have had a huge effect on his daughter.

Joe Devanney says, “There’s been a lot less of TV watching and a lot more of studying of words and enlarging of vocabulary.”

Back home, Katie continues to dominate, even taking time to teach a reporter a new word: humility.

Katy’s score was 534, Smith’s: 194.

Why Play Scrabble Online (Or In-Person?)

There are lots of good reasons why people play Scrabble online: making friends, building a vocabulary or just plain competition. Why play Scrabble indeed.
Why play Scrabble? There are many different reasons to play Scrabble. Scrabble is not only a mental exercise, but it’s also a social game. Scrabble lets people discuss the language while competing.

Scrabble is a generally sober past time. Scrabble lends itself to calm study of the board, so Scrabble is a game for people with level heads. When you play Scrabble, you work through challenges in a calm and reasoned fashion. I find that Scrabble is relaxing, because it forces me to forget my everyday concerns and concentrate on problem solving. Scrabble is a mental stimulant, but a pleasant one.
Scrabble Competition

Of course, some people love the competition. Scrabble is a way to compete against one or more opponents in a battle of wits. Everybody wants to feel like he or she is clever sometimes, so the competitive nature of Scrabble still exists even when playing with friends and loved ones, even when everyone at the table is laughing and having a good time.

But competition isn’t the only reason why you should play Scrabble. Less serious matches can be a great time, too. I have many good memories of playing Scrabble at some family event, when the whole table full of people would be rolling in laughter at some implausible Scrabble word that got played.
Children and Scrabble

If you teach Scrabble to your children, you are teaching them a game which builds vocabulary and word skills. When children become more interested in the words being used around them, it helps to build their language skills.

Sure, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a Scrabble player say, “I don’t know the meaning of half of those two letters words, but I can fit them in a double play.” So it’s possible to play Scrabble and not build one’s vocabulary.

But when we’re talking about beginning level Scrabble games, we aren’t talking about learning long lists of arcane words. We’re talking about using words that are largely in the everyday vocabulary. Children will see these words being used and learn something about them.

Basically, Scrabble is a chance to get children interested in the English language, without telling them they’re about to receive a word lesson. Most children are inquisitive by their very nature, so sparking interest in the English vocabulary and a reason to learn is important.
Online Scrabble

There are many reasons to play Scrabble online. For one thing, it’s a good way to meet new friends with similar interests and interact with new people in the world, when you otherwise might not have the time to do so.

Joining an Internet Scrabble club is a way to meet other Scrabble players. The Pixie Pit, Scrabulous or the Internet Scrabble Club are all great sites where you can meet thousands of Scrabble players worldwide. Most of the people are friendly and enjoy the game, so you naturally are getting to know people with a similar interest.

Also, the international Scrabble community is growing every day. That means you can meet players from other countries and other cultures. You’ll meet people with different perspectives on life and different stories to tell. As you meet more people on your favorite online Scrabble site, you’ll build a list of friends and acquaintances from all around the globe.

Scrabble Ties

Online Scrabble is also great for keeping in touch with friends and family. If there’s a friend or family member you’ve lost contact with, but with whom you used to play a game of Scrabble every now or then, then Internet Scrabble is a great way to continue the acquaintance. The two of you can meet for an hour a week to enjoy a relaxing game of Scrabble, Instant Messaging while you play. The two of you probably will find it’s more organic than keeping contact by simply emailing one another about your day-to-day life.

Scrabble is a Blast

Most of all, Scrabble is fun to play. We all play for that chance to lay down the perfect word in the perfect situation. When you play a Scrabble bingo, it’s like hitting the pin on a golf drive. You’ll feel like you’re a professional. There’s nothing better than playing a game that gives you the satisfaction of feeling clever about yourself. So play Scrabble for the best reason anyone should play a game; it’s simply fun.


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