The Inside Track                                                              to Reading Success 

Phonics, the relationship of letters to sounds, is well recognized as a key to early success in reading.

Word Busters is a challenging game full of suspense for 2 to 4 players. It can be a simple game for beginners or an absorbing strategy game for advanced players.

The unique Word Busters Playing boards contain all the elements needed for phonics mastery. Each playing board allows each player the freedom to learn in his or her own personal ways while providing good reason to master each board as quickly as possible.

The game consists of the following materials:

  • Four playing BOARDS with territories (spaces) indicating phonetic elements. (Note that some phonetic elements contain an extra notation as to its sound. For example a C with a small circled s means a C using the s sound.

  • Three DICE for determining moves.

  • Four MOVERS (Any objects will do.)

  • Four sets of MARKERS for claiming territories. (These could be chips, coins, buttons, etc.) Each playerís markers need to be distinguished from the markers of the other players.



Choose a playing board containing the phonetic elements players need to master. This means automatic, complete mastery. If a player has to think about the phonetic sound, it is not yet completely mastered at the automatic level. A reader can think about only so much during the reading process. Too much time thinking about how to sound out a word interferes with comprehension and enjoyment.

Each player chooses a mover and a group of markers and places his or her mover anywhere on the track.

Player throwing the largest number on the first toss of the dice begins. Each player on each turn may choose the direction he or she will move after throwing the three dice.

A player may claim the territory on which he or she lands by making the sound shown by the letters there and giving a word using that sound. If successful, player places one of his or her markers on the space. It becomes his or her territory. From now on anyone else landing on it is out of the game.

Arguments over whether a player has made the correct sound or has given an appropriate word, is to be settled by majority vote or by using an agreed-on authority Ė perhaps an adult, older sibling, or dictionary.

For a player just beginning to learn the sounds, the others may allow him or her to claim a territory by merely repeating correctly the necessary sound after another player says it.

As play goes on and more territories are claimed, the board becomes increasingly dangerous. Tension rises with each roll of the dice. Players realize they will be out if they land on another personís territory. Of course, if they canít go one direction without landing on claimed territory, they may try the other direction. But in every case, they must always obey the dice and move that many spaces.

In moving, players may cross a territory claimed by another, but cannot land there. Players may land on their own territories.

When a player goes out, his or her territory markers will remain to make life difficult for the others.


Playing Boards:

Word Busters Game Board #1

Basic Consonants & Vowels.
(Vowels are in one color, consonants another. Short and long vowels are marked accordingly. The C consonant is marked to indicate whether to make the K or S sound. The letter Y is usually a consonant, but sometimes makes the vowel sound of long I. For example, fly.


Word Busters Game Board #2

Vowel Rules.
The position of the vowel or vowels in a word or syllable usually determines its sound. (C = consonant, V = vowel)

VC When there is only one vowel in a word or syllable and it is at the beginning of the word or syllable, it usually has the short sound. (in, on, up, it, at, an, if)

CVC When there is only one vowel in a word or syllable, and it is in the middle of the word or syllable, it usually has the short sound. (tin, sun, rug, bit, fat, mop, top)

CVCE When there are two vowels in a word and one of them is the final e, the first vowel letter usually takes its long sound and the final e is silent. (made, ripe, rope, late, cute, hope, kite)

CVVC When there are two vowel letters together in a word, the first usually gives its long sound while the second is silent. (heat, meat, soap, wait, rain, boat, road)

CV When there is only one vowel letter in a word or syllable, and it comes at the end of the word or syllable, that vowel letter usually takes the long sound. (go, so, no, be, he, hi, by)


Word Busters Game Board #3

Blends & Digraphs.
Blinds refer to consonant letters that blend their sounds so as you start the sound of one you smoothly blend in the next sound. (clean, plate, snap, black, flip) Digraphs refer to consonant teams that together make a new sound. (chair, bush, phone, then, sack)


Word Busters Game Board #4

Other Combinations.
(An r often controls the vowel sound, so is underlined. You hardly hear the vowel sound because the r takes over immediately.)