Posted in Writing Ideas

The Game With No Name

Here is an intriguing game for you to play with your class. It’s all about words and sentences and is great fun!

The real test of any game is how long it remains popular. So, this one must be a classic, having been around for well over two hundred years. So successful, it has never needed a name – well, not one everyone has agreed on.

It’s known as Words Within Words, Multiwords, Target and more besides. We called it Constantinople at our school. Like all the best games, it’s very simple: players have to make as many words as possible from the letters of a chosen word – in our case the word was CONSTANTINOPLE. All those different letters in one word kept us happily busy for hours!

So, what about a variant game using not a single word, but instead a single sentence? Same basic rules: players can only use words in the original sentence and no repeating words only used once in that sentence.

You can of course have as many house-rules as you and your players want. For example, a plural suffix s might add an apostrophe to make it a possessive; verb tenses could be allowed to change; a or an get used as necessary. Part of the fun is agreeing rules collectively as the game is tried out.

To test the idea, I chose a book at random (I promise) which turned to be the Puffin anthology, (£1.25 at time of purchase!) ‘Stories for Six-Year-Olds’. From it here’s the opening sentence to the folk tale, ‘Cap o’Rushes’:

One day long long ago there lived a very rich man who had three daughters.

Now here are my new, quickly scribbled sentences:

Long ago there lived a long day.

One rich man who lived there had daughters.

Long ago a rich man lived one day.

Three daughters had one very rich day.

A man had three very long daughters.

You get the idea? Anything goes, no matter how silly, so long as it’s a complete sentence. The greater variety of sentence structures, the better.

To finish, here are some ideas for developing the game:

Hold a competition to see just how many sentences a group or class can make from the original sentence. Children might work in pairs.

Set challenges. For example the children must include a three-word sentence; a sentence needing a question mark.

For less confident players, have the words printed and cut up to make Sentence Scrabble.

Try making sentences using one word less each time. Can you ever get to a single-word sentence?

Perform the new sentences as a playscript.

You might also want to come up with a name for your ‘Game With No Name’.

And finally – why not go back to the original game? How many words can your children get from the 14 letters in CONSTANTINOPLE? According to Google there are 1,802! This includes one 12-letter word – ‘continentals’

And finally, finally ask the children to see if they can find out where Constantinople is?

Have fun?

Mike and David from Goodeyedeers.


A writer of short stories.

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