Friday, December 13, 2013

A Good Brain Game

Do you know about dollar words? You assign value to each letter of the alphabet, with A being worth one cent, B being two cents, and so on. Z is worth 26 cents. You choose a word, determine the value of each letter in that word, then add up the values. Can you find words whose total is 100? Those are dollar words.

This is difficult. Tom and I heard about dollar words on an NPR story yesterday, introducing the book  Because of Mr Terupt by Rob Buyea. As soon as we heard about dollar words I whipped out a notebook and got to work. I tried the names of each member of our family. No name was worth a dollar, not even my given name, Virginia, with it's 22-cent letter, V. It netted me only 89 cents. (Too many I's, and the A is basically worthless.) "Missus" works, but we seldom write the word that way. Certainly "Mrs" doesn't count. "Negotiated" worked too. "Tripled" would have worked, if it had two Ps. As I've already mentioned, this is difficult.

I don't know who thought up dollar words, but Rob Buyea sprinkled them throughout his book. As a classroom teacher himself, he introduced them to his own students, challenging them to see if they could come up with a word or two at home. A student named Ryan retuned to class the next day, waving a sheet of paper covered, front and back, with dollar words. Seems his father was a computer programmer who got into the assignment. He helped Ryan out by creating a program that would retrieve all the dollar words in the dictionary!

Here's a hint that might help you get started. If your word were to have five Ts in it (each worth 20 cents) and no other letters, you would automatically have a dollar word. But, of course, Ttttt is not a word. Nor is Yyyy (four 25-cent letters). But with a few substitutions you might find some words that will work. But don't try "Support." I already did, and it's way off. 

It seems to me that this would be a great exercise for kids to improve their math skills as well as their word skills. But if it's words your working on, and not math, this calculator will evaluate each word you type in and let you know its value.

OK, so here's a question. What day of the week is a dollar word? (You've got to figure it out yourself; I'm not telling!) That's just one of the riddles in The $1.00 Riddle Book. You can buy it at Amazon or you can check it out from the Sno-Isle Library. But if you try the library, you're going to have to wait until I'm finished with it. The same goes for Because of Mr Terupt

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