Random House has launched a Bingo Challenge with a printable bingo card. Rather than numbers, you mark off when you’ve achieved reading tasks such as a book you chose because of its cover, or a book “everyone” but you has read. It’s a great spin-off from the traditional game and it inspired the following Wordspark exercises. You can try these with your writing group, or, if you are a tutor, use them to bring a bit of light-hearted learning to an end of term session.
Game 1 (Prose):
Use with an established group, one that is experienced with giving and receiving feedback. Since the game involves looking for flaws in writing, it is not the best choice for beginners or new groups even though the flaws have been deliberately created by the authors. An undergraduate group would be perfect.
Step 1: Each player (or small team) devises a bingo card filled with common writing mistakes rather than numbers. The grid can have any number of boxes, but 3×3, 3×4 or 3×5 mean you have enough boxes to get a decent ‘hit-rate’ during the game, but not so many that the entire session is spent creating the grid in the first place.
Here are some examples of what you might put in your grid:
- A mixed-metaphor
- A shift in point of view
- Lack of specificity in a detail (e.g. ‘birds’ not ‘sparrows’)
- Awkward dialogue adverbs
- Close repetition of words
Step 2: Each individual writes a short piece deliberately incorporating several of the flaws from their grid. It’s a good idea to offer a prompt for this new piece since, interestingly, deliberately writing badly takes a lot of concentration and ingenuity on its own without also having to think of a story-worthy idea too.
Shuffle and redistribute the bingo cards. You’ll need to devise a marking system – anything from bits of sticky-tac to pencil ticks that can later be rubbed out will do. You’re ready to play.
Each person takes a turn to read, whilst the teams mark off their grid each time one of the mistakes on their grid occurs. ‘Bingo!’ can be called by whoever gets 3 hits, but in true traditional style, they have to call back their results to everyone present before the win can be confirmed.
Game 2 (Poetry):
Maybe because the rules of Bingo are so easy to pick up everyone seems to be playing it, if the success of sites such as bingogodz.com are anything to go by. Ten years ago, the old 1950s Bingo calls we know and still love were updated to appeal to modern players. Ten years ago, the old 1950s Bingo calls we know and still love were updated to appeal to modern players. According to this article, ‘Bang on the drum – 21′ was replaced by, ’21 – J-Lo’s bum.’ This second game works on the basis that, ten years later, it’s now time for J-Lo’s bum to sashay off and make way for phrases fit for 2013.
Step 1: Assign three numbers to each participant and set them the task of devising the new calling phrase for each. Younger players simply need to tune in to rhythm and rhyme, but older players can also get bonus points for topicality or wit.
Step 2: After ten minutes or so, eyes down and you can read around the results. To really bring it alive, why not play an actual round of bingo, where everyone takes a turn to draw numbers from the hat and the new phrases are called out by their writers?