Choice Words is a party game from MindWare where players write down phrases that use a common word. For example, let’s say the word you draw is Hair. You might write words like hairspray, hair-raising, or even hairball. All those words, though, will probably be written by other players, and duplicated phrases don’t count as points. Splitting hairs, though, might manage to get you a point.
The rules encourage being creative. You can use advertising slogans, quotes from movies, or anything else that comes to mind. As long as the group agrees that your phrase is real, you’re set.
The game makes for a fun (often silly) evening, one that works just as well at a party as it does for a family game night.
When I first read the description of Choice Words, I had some problems understanding how it could be educational. Playing it with a mixture of kids and adults, though, put all those doubts to rest.
For a kid, having your phrase eliminated can be tough to take. It’s a rejection that is both immediate and public. In a mixed group of kids and adults, I recommend that you (as the adult) write down at least one bad phrase on the very first turn. That way, when a younger player gets rejected (and it will happen), you have an immediate example to reference as to how to behave.
If you have a child who can’t take social setbacks, or one who over-reacts to criticism, this is a game you should consider making a regular part of your routine.
When we played, both kids and adults almost immediately started to get creative, pulling in quotes from all over the place. For example, the word Hand inspired one player to write man with the six-fingered hand. It’s a reference to The Princess Bride, and since we were all fans, we immediately recognized it. Another player simply wrote The Hand, which is the name of a cult of evil ninjas in Marvel Comics.
Those two answers, of course, launched a discussion of whether or not Count Rugen could be a member of The Hand…
Which brings me to my third and most important educational benefit:
Choice Words is one of those games that inspires conversations. Every time we’ve played, we’ve ended up being distracted by conversations about all sorts of weird things. We’ve talked about comics and movies, and even had a chat about Chamberlain and the battle of Little Round Top. I’m both a history and a literature buff, so that’s often where I go when I’m trying to come up with phrases.
On the flip-side, the kids know that if they can explain one of their off-the-wall answers, there’s a much better chance that they won’t get tossed out.
How can I list “conversation” under the heading of educational? Because it’s crazy important. The student who can articulate his position, who can take part in a dialog that is both relaxed and honest, has a much better chance of success, both inside the classroom and out.
Choice Words is a straight out party game, creative and silly and lots of fun. If you’re playing with kids, though, its experience also provides solid educational benefits, strengthening needed life skills and encouraging creativity.