Boggles the Mind: The Classic “3 Minute Word Search Game“ is About to turn 40!
Did you know that Boggle’s been on the market since 1972? Sure, it failed once and had to be relaunched with a new design in 1976 – but still that means that Boggle’s been on the market for almost 40 years! Personally, I was introduced to Boggle by a grammar school teacher back in the 1980s and have called it a favorite ever since.
Now if you’ve never played Boggle, all you need to know is that it’s the “3-minute word search game” and everybody hunts for words in the 4x4 grid of 16 letter-dice at the same time. There are rules about how the dice have to be touching and you can’t backtrack over the same letter, but they’re easy to learn and it’s what makes the game fun and challenging. It really is an ideal classroom game because kids are sitting quietly (we hope) searching for words before spending a little time sharing their finds.
It’s even easy for young spellers to play because 3-letter words count – although I recommend you force older players to only count 4-letter words or larger. Players score more points for longer words which makes it’s adventageous to know your common root words, prefixes, suffexes and letter groupings. As a fun bit of trivia the longest words that can be made are 17 letters long because the Q and U are grouped together on the same side of the die. They are: inconsequentially, quadricentennials, and sesquicentennials. (Do I hear extra credit for finding one of those?)
So why am I writing about a game that I’m guessing most of you have played? Because I think that this old classic deserves a second look to remind you that it’s so great! If you haven’t been down the game aisle recently, Boggle’s got a new all-in-one design. In their most recent iteration of the game, the wonderful designers at Hasbro solved two of the biggest problems associated with using Boggle in the classroom. First, they contained the dice within a closed shaker. Finally, no more missing dice! The shaker itself is pretty cool; it twists up to create a space to shake the dice and then you spin it back down to lock the dice in place. The second great addition is the internal timer. It’s not one of those noisy ticking ones, but instead a little light flashes until a buzzer goes off after 3 minutes. It’s not horribly loud, but it doesn’t need to be since all the players are probably leaning in looking for that last great word!
If your students are looking for more of a challenge, Winning Moves sells Big Boggle which has 25 dice in a 5x5 grid, versus the 4x4 grid of standard Boggle. Big Boggle still has the retro styling with the plastic base and clear shaker cover – but I’m sure it’s a lot easier to find “sesquicentennials” in a 5x5 grid than in a 4x4 one!
The prices on both of these games are pretty reasonable; Boggle can be found almost everywhere for under $15. Big Boggle will be a little harder to find and a couple dollars more. And now I have to ask, when was the last time YOU played Boggle?
If you're looking for an expert in the game industry, you're probably looking for Kim Vandenbroucke. Not only does she review games at The Game Aisle, but she also designs them and is one of those people that companies call when they need to have a game designed.