Sep 23, 2009


Did you know that learning can be fun? The earliest learners use rewards systems, social interaction, and colorful pictures and songs to attain knowledge (think of flash cards, memory games, and nursery rhymes).

But making a game out of studying isn't just for kids: Even top Fortune 500 companies employ team-building exercises (like scavenger hunts) that use the same principles of learning-as-pleasure to teach new skills to the middle-aged. As the brain ages, its ability to learn in rote detail, such as via memorization, wanes. And it's then that experiential learning works best.

It's also important to note that, at every age and stage of life, the brain learns best when it's happiest. So, enjoying your education is imperative to getting the most out of it—in every way!

Here are some of my favorite word game websites, all great for building your vocabulary:

- Magic Word Square is a blog that's totally dedicated to word-based sudoku puzzles. Each puzzle utilizes one word or phrase that must be filled in to each bloc with no repetitions, just like regular number sudoku. Best of all, the blog author Dave often provides several puzzles a day, with a bonus: A famous quote appears in part, with blank spaces to be filled in using letters that come from the numbered squares in the sudoku puzzles.

- has a wide selection of interactive word games, from Scrabble to standard crossword, word jumble and word sudoku puzzles to the Tetris-like Syn City. (Get it? Add all the synonyms to the skyscraper buildings before time runs out!)

- The New York Times Crossword Puzzle—that famous acme of crosswords—is available online in various forms: print it, play online against a timer, or become a Premium Crossword Member to play with help from friends.

- My favorite word game site of all is Free Rice. A non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program (with sponsorship by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University), Free Rice has two goals: (1) to provide free education, and (2) to provide food to the hungry. Specifically, you answer questions (such as vocabulary questions a la SAT and GRE exams) that 'earn' 10 grains of donated rice for every correct answer.

Watch out! All these sites can be such fun learning, they can be addictive.

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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