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Smart Mouth is a game for second grade and up. Players have to quickly think of a word that uses a given initial and final letter.

The materials of this game lend to its appeal. The plastic letter tiles feel good to the touch and the Letter Setter is fun for kids to operate.

The original version of this game rewarded the child with quick reflexes and a loud voice. The object was to be the first to say a word that used the first and final letter tile displayed in the dealer’s blue Letter Setter. The first person to offer a word that fit the criteria was given the tiles, and a new round began. The winner was the one who’d accumulated the most tiles at the end of the game. My students loved it when there was a tie because in the face off with new letters, the pot of winnings included the tiles from the previous round as well. As originally designed, the game was not for sensitive ears, and thus not for the majority of classrooms either.

The newer version of Smart Mouth includes a timer and a die. You roll the die to see what category your word has to fit, and you get a full minute before players can say their words. Another change in this version is that the word has to have at least five letters. While I like the idea of altering the game to afford more thinking time to those who need it, the difficulty level is much higher if you follow the new rules. You might have children work together as teams, but once again that’s likely to eclipse the slower paced, quieter kids. Truth be told, I haven’t tried out the new version with children, but I’m in favor of using the new game to play by the old rules and steeling yourself for a rollicking time.