Hungry Fish like Hangman is all about practicing spelling. I hadn’t used it in class for while until this morning. One of the things that I like about Hungry Fish is that it is not about a character that gets hung, I discovered today that it is more about “Guessing the word” than the spelling itself, at least for the students and that’s why they like it so much.
I found useful to give students a spelling chart (Sounds in Common chart) to supports the ones that haven’t learned it yet so well. And for those who don’t need, they can use it if they want to check before saying it. I discovered that this free the students from the stress of spelling it correctly and being afraid of making mistakes.
How do we play it?
By drawing 5 to 7 steps + one more chance that represents falling into the fish’s mouth, each student/pair tries to figure out the word within a limit amount of chances that letters. If they want to say the word, they have to be aware that there is only one chance to do it. I think that leads them to think before saying words at random. Although it is a guessing game, the aim is for them to search in their memory words that fit in the number of letters, for example. Or that starts or ends in a certain letter. Searching in their mental database will give them an opportunity to recall a number of other words.
This keeps the flow pretty dynamic and they enjoy the competition, but the beneficial side of it is that while the student/pair is into the pressure to get it, the other participants are trying to figure out the answer themselves. They research into the book, they create hypothesis of spelling. They check their spelling rules and their mental dictionaries.
Another interesting thing about the spelling chart is that the aim is the guessing (thinking of playability gameplay, pleasure) not spelling correctly which changes the focus from learning to playing. But they learn in the process (collateral learning) and the resource (the chart) and the language (the spelling) become both necessary tools in the process to achieve their goal… which is more about discovering most of the words and win!