Synonym Cards

I’m working on a few other educational games in addition to State Master. My main purpose for making these games is have them to play with my own kids, but I’m also hopeful that there will be a wider market for them. However, there’s one game I’m working on now, a vocabulary/synonym card game, that I may never be allowed to sell for legal reasons…

I’m lucky to have three avid readers. Here’s a picture of them “watching the Super Bowl” in 2012.

Boys Watching SuperbowlAnd I enjoy reading to them a lot. For a period, I tried stopping at every word I thought they might not know to ask them what it meant, but they didn’t put up with that for long. So then I started underlining the words on my own with plans to grill them later, but that didn’t work either. So, I made a card game called Synonym Rummy (see rules here), which is basically just Rummy, but with cards of synonyms.  In the first rendition, each card had:

  1. A vocabulary word.
  2. A picture that somehow helped demonstrate the meaning of the word.
  3. A quote or phrase that used the word in a meaningful way.
  4. A point value (with the background color set accordingly).

The deck had 15 sets of 4 synonyms, giving me 60 “new” words.

Here’s an example of a synonym set:

Assorted Card Varied Card Diverse Card Disparate Card

I had one deck printed and we’ve played with it quite a lot. I believe it’s been an effective way for them to learn new vocabulary – a much better and more fun way than using flashcards before a vocabulary test.

The problem is that it takes a really long time to create these cards. First of all, it’s somewhat difficult to come up with the right words to choose. Once you have them, it’s extremely difficult to find relevant images that are free to use commercially. And it’s hard to find quotes or come up with original phrases. So the whole thing takes a long time and I was afraid I’d never get passed the first deck.

So, given that my primary interest is not commercial, but rather to just have the cards to play with my own kids, I’ve decided on a different route, one that will likely make the game unsellable.

I’ve decided to scrap the pictures and scrap the originality. Instead, I’m relying on the good old American Heritage Dictionary for most of my phrases and quotes. It groups synonyms together and provides helpful phrases and quotes to show how the different words are used.  Here’s a miscellaneous example:

MiscellaneousAnd here is an example of a new synonym set made using this approach:

Assorted Card Varied Card MiscellaneousCard HeterogeneousCard

Admittedly, these cards aren’t as pretty (no pictures), but I can whip them out relatively fast.  Also, listing the synonyms on the cards like this adds a couple of big benefits:

  1. It makes it much easier for new players to start playing right away.
  2. It helps players visually associate the different synonyms with each other.

I’ve placed the order for my first deck and am hoping to be playing with it in the next week or so. Here are the games we play with them:

Click Any Image for Enlarged Rules

Synonym Concentration Rules

Synonym Concentration

Go Fish for Synonyms Rules

Go Fish for Synonyms

Synonym Rummy Rules

Synonym Rummy

Synonym Switch Rules

Synonym Switch

The problem with publishing the game to sell (or otherwise make available) to others is the copyright issue. Perhaps the folks at AHD will take an interest and work with me on it!

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