Nine-year-old Jane and I have been playing iSketch together. What a hoot! It’s a kind of online Pictionary game. I log in first and create a private room (very important—the public rooms can be lewd) just for the two of us. Then she logs in on our other computer. In each round, one person draws a word and the other one guesses it. The words are randomly generated by the computer. You can choose categories like books, movies, food, or animals, or you can just choose a basic word list. The “phrases” category is especially fun—Scott’s illustration for “shattered dreams” had me in stitches the other night.
The artist has a set of drawing & painting tools to use. Drawing with a mouse is tricky at first but you quickly get the hang of it. The guesser types words into a box. If you’re on the right track, you get a little happy noise. Correct guesses earn points for both artist and guesser, but for us the thrill is in having the other person figure out what you’re supposed to be drawing.
We began playing this just for fun—I had no sneaky educational ulterior motive. But it has turned out to be quite a boost for Jane’s spelling. She has to spell her guesses correctly or they don’t count. Yesterday her correct guesses included the words “passenger,” “microscope,” “martyr,” and “manicure.” She passed a nice little spelling quiz, all unawares!
iSketch has word lists in over a dozen languages, so you can even practice your German, Spanish, or Dutch. Now if only they had a category for Latin…
Now, we won’t be tossing our beloved Pictionary game anytime soon…after all, it’s nice to actually be in the same room together sometimes. 🙂 But iSketch has an excitement all its own. And since you can invite numerous players to your private room, it’s possible to play a game with Grandpa in Colorado and your cousins in Australia. (Working out the time differences sneaks in a lesson in practical math, too.)
Note to parents: you’ll want to visit the iSketch website first and check it out, sans kids. Be sure to read the instructions for how to set up a private room. Whatever you do, DO NOT let your children scroll down the list of public room names at the bottom. The “user created” names at the end of the list are beyond nasty. A private room, however, is quite easy to set up and perfectly safe from unsavory intruders.
Things to Buy Instead of Curriculum
Online Word Games
Our Week in Books: August 23-30
How I (Don’t) Teach My Kids to Read