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Showing 1-10 of 72 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 88 reviews
on September 27, 2012
I wanted a game to help my 6 year-old work on spelling and reading in a fun way, so I bought What's Gnu? I did read other reviews and was prepared to reconsider the game's instructions. After a bit of thought, we came up with different ways to play this game that made it fun for the whole family.

As designed, the players are supposed to slide the game mechanism and reveal 2 letters. The first to call out a valid word using a letter on the 3 word cards in front of them gets that letter and can complete a word card. First player to complete all 3 word cards wins. That might work if you have 2 kids at the same level, but obviously it is completely unrealistic for a beginning reader to compete against adults.

We changed up the rules so that each person gets 6 word cards. The first player slides the game mechanism and gets two letters and tries to use them in their word cards. There is no time limit, and if my daughter needs to put tiles in each card and sound it out, that's fine. Once the two tiles are done (either used or thrown out), the next player goes. With 3 players and 6 cards, a game takes about 20 minutes, which is a good amount of time for kids this age (and we can obviously change the number of word cards we use). Toward the end we were even joking around and making funny definitions for fake words. My daughter was laughing and having fun. She had no idea how much reading and spelling practice she just had.

I like that there are no batteries, it makes no noise, there is essentially no set-up (this is quite portable), and games can be made more challenging to suit kids' needs as they develop reading skills. I only gave it 4 starts instead of 5 because the instructions that came with it seem uninspiring and overly focused on time-based game play. If you have K-2 children, just toss the instructions, find your own ways to play, and you'll enjoy this game.
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I teach first grade students that range in reading levels from Pre-K to upper second grade. While reading books is an important part of our guided reading groups, I felt the need to add some variety to word work rather than using worksheets so I purchased some activities.

In this game students see two letters using a "machine" that "spits" out the letters randomly. Each card has 2 sides. One side needs 1 letter; one side needs 2 letters. (Thus far we've only used the 1 letter side.) If a child can use one of the 2 letters he/she has to yell out the WORD! I've had students grab the letter, yell out the letter, say the word wrong, etc... However, that breaks the rules and the student doesn't get the letter. :( If the child does indeed make a word, the card is kept with the letter and the child gets a new card. If letters aren't used they go back into the pile.

It takes time learning how to play this game. My strugglers obviously needed more support than my non-strugglers. The goal is/was to help students make words and recognize words and this game does exactly that. It also helps them to differentiate between vowels and consonants, a skill that needs a lot of work.
I have another game by the same manufacturer that has a word selector but for some reason it doesn’t work. This one, however, works like a charm! I move the top of it and out “pops” two letters! There have been no issues so far. I say this in case you have the other game (Bingo Sight Word) and have had issues. (Good News! I received the new one and it’s working perfectly. Way to go!) Rather than flipping cards using the “machines” makes the game more exciting.
I highly recommend this game for anybody, parent or teacher, who is looking for additional help in the area of word work. It helps with sounds, letter recognition, 3-letter words and so much more.

Not so short. Sweet. To the point.
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on February 10, 2012
5 year old in kindergarten really likes this game. I adapt the rules a tad for him to play. He can play with his little friend but with me helping them. It's fun for them but for the parent, when they're still very young and beginning readers, it should probably be thought of more as a sneaky way to get in reading practice. All pieces are very durable, this game should last a very long time. The cards are very thick cardboard, the rest is a very strong feeling plastic, no little edges or dangling pieces that might break off easier. Only slightly annoying thing for me was the packaging. This was packaged a little different than other ThinkFun games we've gotten. First, be careful when pulling out of the annoying plastic twisty straps holding it into the cardboard. The only piece not strapped is the top, the piece that holds the letters in. So if you're not paying attention like I guess I wasn't it's pretty easy to flip it back a bit while trying to get the ties off and end up with the top falling off and little letter-tiles all over the floor. The other minor annoyance is some of the other ThinkFun games we've got have a nice little pouch to hold everything in, then we just toss the box. There is nothing but the box for this and it's way too big for the game pieces so stuff will end up moving around and coming apart and it's very likely I'll find a big mess of tiles and cards every time I open it up unless I use a ziplock or something to keep it all together. Oh, one last thing I was a tad disappointed with is that the Zingo game has little slots so you can keep putting the tiles back into the feeder as you play, but this one doesn't have that so you need to open up the top to put them back in once you're done with your game.

Overall though, great game, well worth the money. Durable and provides FUN education.
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on May 6, 2014
My 5 and 8 year olds are both learning to read. They love this game! They both know most of their sounds pretty well and are just starting to put them together. It is great for learning three letter words. I like that the vowels are red and consonants are black. We end up discussing vowels and consonants with a concrete example in front of them. The game has a "letter getter" to dispense the tiles two at a time. They love to do this. Be warned, it must be on a flat surface to work. (It wouldn't work on our picnic table!) The variations of this game are many, so it can be modified to fit the needs of your learner. All parts are study and satisfying to use. I am glad I got this game.
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on February 20, 2014
I got this game as a christmas present for one of the boys I nanny for. He is in kindergarten, working on sight words, lots of spelling, starting the "reading" process. He is constantly spelling things, asking me how to spell words.. He loves playing this game.

We haven't followed the actual directions yet, I think he is getting more ready each time we play. We each take out a couple cards, then pull to reveal the letters and we slowly go through all our cards to see if we can make words, sounding out all the possibilities. Lots and lots of giggles! its something he will enjoy for a couple years, and can make it a faster and more competitive game as skill develops.
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on May 7, 2007
This is a great game for new readers and for readers who need some extra help and practice. As a retired teacher and now a tutor, I'm using this with a second grader who is having trouble with reading. She really enjoys this game and is getting much better at spelling short words, as well as recognizing longer words because of the skills she is learning with this game. I'd recommend this to anyone with a young reader! P.S. It can also be used with older readers just as a fun game by having a time limit to make a certain amount of words.
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on January 12, 2012
My 5 year old has a blast with this game. It's so fun, that she wants to give it as a birthday gift to her friend (She was quite relieved after learning we would pick up a new copy rather than give up hers.)

While we play, she's learning new words like, "fop". And spelling old ones faster. It's really helping her with her German spelling that we allow in our house rules "bau", for example. We don't play very competitively at our home and help each other out trying to find ways for everyone to get words in.

The reviews who say the age isn't right seem to really be saying that their kids are not at that level yet. Given that reading doesn't come as easily for some, then yes, 5 could be too early for a particular child. But for any 5 year old who is beginning to read/spell (and they're all doing it at our kindergarten class), it's very good.
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on September 14, 2007
It was easy for me to adapt the rules to the needs of my 5 year old grandson.... possibilities are endless but an encouraging adult is needed to help keep a good pace and keep young ones encouraged and not overwhelmed. It's really an excellent skill builder.
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My 5-year-old loves playing with letters and creating words which is why I bought this game for her. We have had fun with it, and I've actually made up different sets of rules to make the game more stimulating and interesting. Like some reviewers have mentioned, I wish the game had more 3 letter word possibilities which would make this more enjoyable and challenging. As it is, we've basically covered a lot of words and I can tell her interest has decreased a bit. We are currently working on four letter word combos and I wish Thinkfun would come up with a game with four-letter word combos. This is an excellent game overall, especially in motivating beginning readers, and depending on the level of your child's reading skills, I feel this can be introduced to children as young as 3 and up.
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on December 26, 2013
I recommend this product for all parents and teachers alike in introducing young ones to literacy. This is also a wonderful game for ESL students. We have used this product in several classrooms and it is a hit with the students as they are transfixed in trying to build a word as quick as possible. Students enjoy moving the cartridge back and forth as new letters are displayed. Overall, this is an excellent product for the budding reader!
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