Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Word Game in a Cube~ SCRUBLE!

 The TOS Crew members have been receiving a number of fun and educational games for review this year, in addition to curriculum . The latest game to make its way to our front porch this year was the Scruble Cube.

"Scruble Cube", you ask? "What's that?" Well, it is kind of like it sounds~ a word game that is a cross between Scrabble and a Rubik's Cube.

It's an interesting concept~ the letters are (almost) all there (it is missing 'Q' and 'Z'). There are "Wild card" pegs that can be any letter, so never fear, Scrabble players who have memorized all those "Q" words, you can still wow the rest of us, as long as your word is at least three letters long.

Unlike the mystery element in Scrabble, all of the letters are "out on the table" as it were. The idea is to twist the layers (Relatively carefully, so that the pegs don't break off), and create words that can be read either vertically or horizontally(not diagonally). There are additional Added Letter Value and Added Word Value pegs, which only come into play if they are next to the beginning or the ending of the word.

For those that like to see things in action, here's a little video for you:

Having played with it on my own, as well as with some friends, and with my children, I have a few thoughts to share with you. 
  • The cube is portable, with no little pieces to lose. 
  • It is great for the kinesthetic learner, who likes to use their hands.
  • Tactile and  fun to hold~ I love how the faces of the pegs spin. :)
  • Challenging to figure out~ use that brain!
  • Relatively quick play to 100 points.
  • Due to the nature of the quick play, my children are happy to use it for 1/2 (or more) game time.
  • May be confusing for the "Concrete" person, who prefers to work in 1 or 2 dimensions vs 3 dimensions. Without fail the adults I shared the Scruble Cube with were inclined to prefer 1 or 2 dimension games~ They also were people who didn't appreciate Rubik's Cube.
  • The letter configurations on the edges and corners are somewhat more limiting than I expected at first~ you can't make ANY word you want, HOWEVER, playing with Option 2, which allows the "Added value" pegs to be wild letters makes it much more playable, in my opinion.
  • A little fragile ~ Our first cube showed up with an already broken corner peg, but the company cheerfully replaced our cube. ~ As with many manufactured items there are bound to be "Bad batches" here and there. We've had no trouble with the replacement cube, and even my 4 year old is able to twist the layers successfully. Just wanted to emphasize the note included in the instructions: NOTICE: The 4x4x4 SCRUBLE Cube has many moving parts and is not intended for high speed manipulation. Please align all rows before moving them and NEVER force pieces into place while twisting and turning. RSV Productions, Inc. cannot be responsible for damage caused by improper use.
There are a number of variations on play that can be used in a schoolish setting. The instructions for each are downloadable from Scruble Cube's Education tab. I especially like the basic idea of spending 5 minutes or so, and making  3, 4, and 5 letter words,  and then looking up their definitions in the dictionary. :) The idea of extending the learning into high school with the Periodic Table variation is also interesting. Some of the games would have to be adapted to homeschool play, as they suggest teams, but that isn't a major drawback.

This could be a fun "youth group" game, ice-breaker at a party, or even a fun baby-shower game(See if the guests can make new "Baby-related" words as they pass the cube around. Oh, I love word games, and can come up with a multitude of ways to use them! :)

Truthfully, until I realized the options that open up when playing with the special pegs as wild letters, I wasn't all that excited about the Scruble Cube. It seemed too restricting, and more difficult than I wanted in a word game. However, once I realized that there are so many variations, I became much more enamored of the game. (And my kids right along with me. :D)

Now for the nitty gritty~
Recommended age~ I would say 8 to adult
Purchasing~ Scruble Cube may be purchased at Barnes and Noble, Learning Express Stores, FAO Schwarz, and other specialty Toy Stores, as well as directly from Scruble Cube's Website

As always, I hope that this is useful to you as you determine where best to spend your homeschooling and gifting budget(Two birds with one stone is always kind of nice). For more opinions, please visit the TOS Crew Blog, and check out some experiences from other families.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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