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Tell a friend Scattergories


When I was in the eighth grade, my English teacher assigned the class a unique exercise in vocabulary building: an empty table with general categories (cities, vegetables, animals, etc.) across the top, and single letters down the left-hand side. Our task was to complete the table with category-specific words that began with each of the letters. I was under the impression that I had to fill in every cell of the table — or fail the assignment.

So, with a little help from my family, I set about doing the assignment, which was more fun than I’d expected. Most of the cells were easy to fill in (an animal starting with the letter M could be moose or mouse or mink, and so on), but some of the cells seemed nearly impossible to fill in. In the end, I got creative, using nasturtium for a vegetable starting with N (with an asterisk, I explained that nasturtium was an herb that could be used in salads). Manhattan was my choice for a city starting with M, even though technically, Manhattan is a borough. For a vegetable starting with the letter D, I explained that "domato" is tomato pronounced with a bad head cold. My teacher seemed to appreciate my creative license, especially since I turned out to be the only student who’d managed to complete the entire table. I didn’t realize at the time that I’d been playing a handmade version of Scattergories, to which I would be been introduced five years later by a couple of little girls who beat me handily.

The San Francisco Chronicle publishes an annual review of board games, a terrific resource for game- and gift-buyers. The article claims that because of their annual imitators, "Trivial Pursuit and Balderdash are like the Beatles and Rollling Stones of board games . . ." To borrow this analogy, I would contend that Scattergories is the board game equivalent of — bear with me — Talking Heads. Perhaps marginal compared to the Fab Four or the Stones, but oh so cool. The centerpiece of Scattergories, a nifty icosahedral die with twenty usable letters, is worth the price alone.

Posted December 15, 2005 by Mariva in education, entertaining, fun, games, gifts, resources, social

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