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Synonyms Review by Kathy Gelzer

Linda Hymes
Lindergaff, LLC
San Jose, CA 95138

The game Synonyms is an educational family board game for ages 10 and up. It comes with a playing board, three sets of word cards (a total of over 400), pass and challenge cards, seven playing pieces, a standard die, a score pad, a pencil, and two 1-minute timers. The three sets of word cards are color-coded green, yellow, red, and they increase in difficulty from green to red. Each player or team receives two each of the pass and challenge cards. The word "synonym" is spelled around the board four times. Players/teams try to earn all the letters of the word by scoring a point (letter) each time they land on that letter.

The word cards list a word on one side, such as shy, change, wear, ample, childish, promote, plain, chaos, or create. On the back of the cards are listed roughly 15 to 25 synonyms for the word. The die determines both the number of spaces you move as well as the number of synonyms you must correctly name to score that turn. The letters of the word "synonym" are on colored squares--green, yellow, or red--which corresponds to the word cards.

Pass cards can be used to try a new word card or to roll again. Challenge cards may be used to take away a letter from another player. These cards help to change up the game a bit and give the players some added control over their destiny. Other spaces on the board which add to the game are roll again, lose a letter, and challenge.

My children and I found this game frustrating and disheartening. We had difficulty coming up with the required number of synonyms listed on the backs of the cards despite the fact that we knew most of the words on the backs of the cards--we just couldn't recall enough of them. Even though the rules say you can accept, either by majority vote or by checking in a thesaurus, synonyms other than those listed on the back of the cards, it was discouraging to not come up with words given on the card. A variation of the game also allows for younger players to come up with fewer words, but that was unappealing to my children as well.

Here is an example of one of the words and the synonyms. Create: accomplish, achieve, act, actualize, author, beget, begin, build, coin, concoct, construct, contrive, design, develop, devise, discover, dream up, effect, erect, establish, fabricate, formulate, found, originate, parent, produce sire, start. This card is a green (easiest level) card.

I thought this game was more of a test of one's ability to recall synonyms than a means of increasing one's vocabulary. Our family found Synonyms too difficult to be fun.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2011