Teach Through Games: What’s Gnu?

Teach Through Games: What’s Gnu?

Age level: Early Elementary

Description: What’s Gnu is a fast-paced and interactive word building game for young learners. Each player is given four word cards. Then players take turns passing the Letter Getter around and sliding it to reveal two new letters. Players look at their words cards and call out the word they can spell with one of the letters. The first player to call out a valid words gets to keep the letter. The first player to fill all four word cards wins!


On this turn, the Letter getter reveals a G and an E. Looking at my word cards, I see I can use the letters to spell “beg” or “bee,” but I have to call out one of those words before someone else calls out a word!

Skills & Modifications: Not only does this game come with two different levels of play, but it also has instructions for three different variations of the game so it’s easy to find a way to use the materials to best suit your learner. The game can be played competitively, cooperatively, or solo!

It’s also easy to modify the length of the game for learners who struggle with sitting for a long duration by increasing or decreasing the number of word cards each player is dealt.

The game includes two levels of play, so it's easy to choose an appropriate level of play for your learner.

The game includes two levels of play, so it’s easy to choose an appropriate level of play for your learner.

Letter Recognition – In order to play this game, your learner(s) must be able to identify letters and their sounds.

Spelling – This game is ideal for practicing spelling skills. All of the green level cards lend themselves to the construciton of C-V-C words, (though it’s possible to construct words with more than one vowel as well.) And once the green level is mastered, you can just flip the cards over to make the game more challenging and practice more difficult spelling skills!

Problem Solving – Each player must scan their word cards quickly and figure out what letters fit in their words. This is an early form of problem-solving, and a great way to practice the skill with learners who have already mastered basic spelling.

Peer Play/Turn-Taking – I like this game for peer play because everyone gets to play simultaneously. It’s also excellent for turn-taking, because most of my students are motivated to be the one to slide the Letter Getter, but everyone’s turns are relatively fast so there’s little to no wait time.

What letters will be revealed next?

What letters will be revealed next?

Accepting Mistakes/Errors – This is also a great game for working on accepting errors. If a player calls out a word that is not valid (or a “nonsense word,” then they don’t get to keep the letter. However, another letter is available already to try again, and because turns are pretty fast, more letters will be available quickly as well. It provides lots of opportunities to move beyond errors, as well as for teachers/parents to model how to accept errors.

Playing with Speed – Many learners with autism and other developmental delays struggle with quick responding. In order to keep letters in What’s Gnu, players must respond quickly. For learners who have difficulty playing with speed, but are strong with spelling, this is a great way to introduce the skill with an activity that is motivating.

Pros: This game is pretty popular among my students. The rules are easy and play is quick. Plus, if your learner likes the Letter Getter mechanism, there are many games produced by ThinkFun with the same sort of mechanism, including games that focus on telling time, spelling, and matching. You can see those games by clicking here

Cons: None!

whatgnuCost: $19.99 You should invest in this game if: you are looking for fun family games, seeking entertaining ways to practice spelling skills, or have a learner who loves words and letters.

ABLLS: A10, K15, L4, T2


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