Review- Play Scrabble in Hindi with Junior Aksharit

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I love word games, I truly love them. I have played them all-Scrabble, Boggle, bookworm (remember the computer game?) and recently “words with friends”.  I absolutely adore how the mind works on various permutations and combinations to make, find and spell words. The sense of achievement when you crack a particularly difficult word is unparalleled.

I surely hope my daughter falls in love with words like I did but then a thought came across my mind, what about Hindi word games? Did you know Scrabble has been translated into almost 30 different international languages including german, arabic, malay and russian. Unfortunately our national language has been neglected where word games are concerned. The complexities of the hindi language and the intricate nuances don’t readily render it for hindi games.

The same thought also went across the brilliant minds of three IIT graduates – Manuj Dhariwal, Rajat Dhariwal and Madhumita Halder. But not satisfied with mere brainstorming about they actually started researching the concept, identifying the obstacles and creating an innovative hindi game which would not only strengthen word skills but also help children be friends with their mother tongue. The result was the Aksharit game which makes learning hindi easy and has the potential to revolutionize the way Hindi can be taught in our classrooms.

You can imagine the impact of this innovation from the fact that Nokia bundled the Aksharit mobile game with their N8 handsets and Intel has launched the Aksharit app in their AppUp Store. You can learn more about Aksharit and the other fascinating games developed by the trio’s company Mad Rat Games on their website. 

 In today’s world where spoken english is considered to be one of the main benchmarks of an educated person it is important for parents and teachers to help emphasize and  evolve the love for our national language too. This is why when I received the Junior Aksharit to review, I was beyond happy to try it out with kids and relive my word spinning days.

JUNIOR AKSHARIT

Product Description

Junior Aksharit or Chhotu Aksharit is the world’s first Hindi word game intended for language beginners (below 10 yrs). There are two games with colorful picture crosswords on them on which the letters have to be placed. One game has words without the Matras (vowels) and the other game has words with Matras and between them the entire alphabet of Hindi is covered. Each word has a corresponding picture to help children remember the word meaning. With the patented Akshara and Matra (vowels) tile design you can spell any and every word of Hindi. Chotu Aksharit is the funnest way to learn Hindi!

Price and Availability 

Rs 499/- . You can purchase this game at Aksharit’s website or Amazon.com 

The contents-Love the pink and blue pouches

How to Play

The junior version of the game has a different point system than the original Aksharit. The game comes with a double sided board: one side in blue (which has words with no matras) and the other in pink (with words with matras). There are blue letter tiles and purple letter tiles for each corresponding board. There are also transparent tiles with matras which go on top of the blue/purple tiles to form the complete letter. There are also four pawns in various colors and a dice. There are colored pouches for the blue and pink tiles and a polybag for the transparent tiles. The instructions for the game are included both in hindi and english.

A maximum of four players can play the game. Each player chooses a pawn which is placed at the start of the points lane. Now each player chooses five letter tiles from the colored pouch. Once every player has chosen, they now have to place the tile on the words which are there on the board. A player can only place his letters (as many as possible) on a single word. The player also has to place the letter in the same sequence as it is written on the board. If you don’t complete the word you can only move your pawn ahead for the number of tiles used in a single turn. However, if you complete a word you also get to roll the dice and move ahead : number of tiles used + the number on the dice. If you complete two words within a single turn you get to roll the dice twice. The first player to reach the end point wins. Simple, isn’t it?

Learning the ropes

Our Experience 

The packaging of the game is in bright colors and the blue/pink board and the letter tiles together make an attractive package for kids.

Since my daughter is only three years old and doesn’t really recognize all the letters in hindi alphabet yet, I enrolled my niece Parisha for playing the chhotu aksharit with me. Being the sport that she is, she sat down with me on a humid afternoon to play this unique word game and have lots of fun. Parisha is almost five and recognises almost all hindi alphabets and can write many of them. But making words with the letters was a different ball game altogether.

A closer look at the Aksharit Blue Board

Even so, we managed to have a great time. She was able to match the letters on the board with letter tiles and grasped the rules quite soon, much to my surprise. The challenge of reaching the end line before me also spurred her on and in a short while she was even using two tiles to complete words. Once we had conquered the blue board without the matras, we ventured onto the pink board and tackled the matras too. The placement of transparent tile matras on the letter tiles was very fascinating for Parisha and even though she doesn’t have much knowledge about matras yet she was asking questions about them, which I think is the inception of all learning.

Now we are playing on the pink side with Matras

By the end of it she had learnt way more about Hindi letters and Vowels in one hour session of play than we could have achieved with a book for a whole day.  This is the beauty of learning through play where knowledge becomes a part of fun and vice-versa.

Check out the transparent tiles for matras

Pros  

  • A great way to learn hindi and practice the alphabets.
  • Perfect for NRI children who may not have hindi being taught to them at schools and their parents can use Aksharit as a cool way to learn hindi
  • The fact that simple addition is required for movement of the pawns on the points scale is a bonus learning objective.
  • All the words on the board have corresponding pictures too which heightens the sensory aspect of the play.
  • Being able to touch the letter tiles and the vowel tiles also add another sensory dimension to the game.

Cons 

  • One needs a basic level of knowledge of Hindi language without which the game cannot be played.

Thinking of her next move

Verdict

Must Buy. I am certain that as Parisha learns more of hindi at school this game will complement her grasp of the language and soon she will be able to move to the other versions of Aksharit.

 To know more about the Junior Aksharit and get interesting tidbits about hindi word games don’t forget to “Like” the facebook page of Madrat Games. 

Are you excited about your kids learning hindi through board games?

Have you heard about or played Aksharit? Share your thoughts and ideas with me through comments below.

Disclosure: I received the Junior Aksharit for review purposes from the company but as always that has not affected my review in any way at all. 

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