If you went to elementary school in the U.S. in the 1950s or 1960s, you most certainly played it in the classroom. If you didn’t, you can still enjoy this Thanksgiving word game.
Starting around third grade, most elementary students during that era could expect to play a classroom game in which they made as many smaller words as possible from the name of a major holiday. The teacher almost always chose Thanksgiving or Christmas. Hallowe’en never got equal time because nobody could figure out what to do with the apostrophe (the way we still spelled it then).
According to my mother, a fifth-grade teacher for 35 years before she retired, this was an excellent activity on days when it was too cold for recess outdoors or when the school gym was in use for a special program. Since teachers in those days didn’t have regularly scheduled planning times, having the students play the name game at their desks was the perfect opportunity to catch up on grading papers for 15 to 30 minutes. She always allowed plenty of time for those who struggled or were reluctant.
Most of us preferred the word Thanksgiving to Christmas because of the former’s wonderful -ing. However, the fact that neither name of a holiday contained an E or an O wasn’t lost on us.
So let’s give the Thanksgiving name game one more whirl. If it’s a proper name or not in the dictionary, it doesn’t count. Here’s my quick list, starting with the simplest words: a, an, ant, ants, giving, it, its, than, thank, thanks, thanking, think, thinking, sag, snag, kin, king, kings, gnat, gnats, tank, tanks, this, gig, gigs, gag, gags, nag, nags, skin, stain, thinks, thing, things, van, vans, stag, and gas.
Also on the list: ask, hag, hags, sank, task, tasking, ash, hang, hangs, knit, knits, sit, sat, gist, gait, gin, gins, vat, vats, visa, sin, sink, sank, sing, sang, shin, tan, tans, ink, inks, tin, tins, hat, hats, having, hit, hits, his, nit, nits, sign, snit, and shank.
And these, a little tougher: skating, thin, thins, gaining, giant, giants, hanging, asking, akin, ash, aghast, shag, sinking, staging, staving, stink, stinking, stank, van, vans, vain, inking, vast, tanking, saving, night, nights, staining, vagina, vaginas, and visit.
Okay – that’s my best shot for 15 minutes. Did I miss any duplicates? Who can play the Thanksgiving word game and add to this list? Have a little creative fun as you plan for a healthy and safe holiday this year.