A Review of “Letter Roll” by Karen Luciana
One of the nicest things about Letter Roll is the easy-to-follow directions. I am a big fan of clear, concise, and simple instructions, as it is frustrating to figure out new games when the instructions are confusing. I always think that if an experienced adult reader as myself is confused when reading directions, then imagine how a 10-year-old must feel when trying to learn a new game. The 10-year-old rarely wastes time. He will move on and try something else. Busy teachers may be tempted to do the same.
But not so with Letter Roll. It is easy to understand. Play is quite manageable, being easy to learn, but not easy to play. There exist challenges that can be adjusted to fit the abilities of the players.
Players choose 4 of the 7 die. I like that the die are color- coded, have 16 sides, with one letter on each side. This original shape makes them fun to manipulate. There are 2 blue, 2 white, and 2 orange. Each color indicates the frequency of letter appearance in words, so the level of this game can be adjusted to meet the ability levels of your players. Therefore, it can be made harder or easier depending on need. They roll the four die and then remove one after examining the letters that arise. Players then have 3 letters remaining and the task is to write words that contain ALL of those letters.
The first few rounds of this game posed quite a challenge for all of us, children and adults alike. That was just fine, as we all enjoyed the provocation. As we played more rounds, we used spelling strategies to help us. It was also fun to compare what each of us wrote.
In the classroom, this game fits perfectly with spelling and language objectives, as well as demanding that students think and make connections. A smart player will automatically use rimes (chunks of letters that make up parts of words) as a strategy. Struggling students may take a longer while to catch on, but all students who played this game kept playing and eagerly wanted to continue more rounds. This type of classroom connection is crucial to my evaluations of games in the school setting. There must be a clear academic component in order for me to justify the use of academic minutes.
I give Letter Roll the huge go-ahead. Engaging, challenging, and FUN enticed us all.