Math IS Real Life – December 2014 Edition: Scrabble-icious!

It’s the first Wednesday of December which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!

If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!



 A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by

 4mulaFunThe Teacher StudioTeaching to Inspire in 5th, AND MissMathDork,



I had a ton of mathematical events happen this month… DIY projects, booking for 12, shopping for Thanksgiving, balancing decorations on a Christmas tree, and much more, but they all seemed ‘overdone’ on my posts for MIRL so I tried to think a bit more out-side-the-box.  What I ended up deciding on was a tradition that my friend, Marie, and I have.

Marie and her husband usually join my husband, myself and anyone else who chooses to come to our annual Saturday-giving.  We always have our Thanksgiving on Saturday because for the longest time my husband worked on Thanksgiving day and it was just easier to move our holiday.  Anyway, after we stuff ourselves full of tasty-goodness, Marie and I settle in to play Scrabble.  We play Scrabble for HOURS… no, really… hours!

What’s funny about this is we are both math people, yet we both have a rich family history with the game Scrabble.  We’re both word game fanatics.  We’re both very competitive.  We both come from very competitive Scrabble playing families…. and, despite both of our husband’s saying we cheat, we both know just about every 2 letter word that is acceptable to play in the scrabble dictionary – including AA and ZA… no, really, those are official Scrabble words!  I should also mention that we MEGA cheer for each other for amazing plays (see the “x” play later!) We just LOVE seeing the math play out in awesome ways!  (nerds…yes, we know!)

Slide1Anyway, as we were playing, it dawned on me what a great game Scrabble is for kids to play with adults!!  For those of you who aren’t Scrabble fanatics, here’s the premise of the game.  Each player (up to 4) gets 7 tiles.  From those tiles you need to build words.  Each tile as a numeric value on it (the harder it is to use the letter in a word, the more points it’s worth).  You must build on earlier words (think cross-word puzzle).

All letters that touch on a side much of another tile must for a word in ALL directions. Every word you create (you can create more than one word with proper letter placement) earns you points.   Not only do you earn points for words but (again with proper placement) you can gain double word, double letter, triple letter or triple word scores!


Anyway, as Marie and I were playing…. I started thinking about how great this game would be for younger kiddos!

1) How awesome is it to get a kid to WANT to look up how to spell a word in a dictionary ?

2) How amazing would it be to get kids to add up their points mentally?  AND if they play their letters right, they would work on doubling and tripling numbers up to 10!

I just love the idea of getting kiddos to enjoy numbers and playing with numbers without just doing practice worksheets!


So… think about this word CORSAGE


but the 3 is on double letter, and the A is on the beginning star (bonus 10)

so…. 2(3)+1+1+1+1+2+1 = 13

13+10 = 23

(oh and there’s this rule that if you use all 7 of your letters on one turn you get another 50 points because that’s NOT an easy task…)

23 + 50 = 73.

Check out that mental math!


And how about this doozy!  Laying the X on a triple letter score.  Yes, EX and XI are words in the scrabble dictionary (you may want to use a Webster’s dictionary for playing with kids!)


The X placement here is HUGE!!  First calculate the EX points 1+3(8) = 25

Then, calculate the XI points 1+3(8) = 25.

So laying one letter was worth 50 points!  but look at those math skills!  OH and there was a chance to pull in order of operations here!

Strategy of points and placement will eventually come into play the more iterations you have of the game!

Also, have your kiddos keep the running total!  single, double and even triple digit addition!  Or, if you decide to use an app, try ScoreKeeper.  This app is free and ONLY works in adding 10s and 1s.  Sooooo to add 19 to a score, a student could add 10 and then 9 ones OR they could add 10 and add 10 and subtract one!  Great way of getting kids to be more efficient with their mental math.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop being nerdy now…. Sorry for the unconventional #MIRL this month, but I just had to share a game that has been such a large part of my life!!  I do hope you will find it and play it with you kiddos!


  Don’t forget to check out the other MIRL posts below!  Check back over the next few days – more will be added!!

Categories: #mirl, math is real life, mathematical reasoning, and mental math.


  1. I love Scrabble! My grandma got me hooked at a very young age…I remember beating her once, and it was this amazing accomplishment!
    It’s a great way to work on math skills. My teaching partner would have scrabble as one of her daily centers the kids would rotate between…they loved it!
    She was using it for more of the ELA component, but I can easily use it in my math class as well!

  2. Elizabeth

    My husband and I are HUGE scrabble people. He is also awesome at playing strategically and kicking my butt! But, I did beat him ONE time out of like a million!!! (okay, not that many, but A LOT!)


    Hodges Herald

  3. Marie

    Love playing scrabble with young people and letting them use the dictionary in between turns! I ha a word nerds club at one school! It was my favorite part of the day! Can’t wait to play nerdy games with you in the future!

Leave a Reply to Kim Cancel reply