The PAL Awards are unique because Play on Words speech and language expert Sherry Artemenko recognizes exceptional toys, games and books that encourage language, spark fun and invite creative play. PAL winners in the hands of kids spark fun and creative play with lots of talk!
Products, chosen on the basis of over 30 years practical child development experience, are complemented by thoughtful reviews, showing parents how to best use each toy, game or book to build language.
In selecting our Recycle Rally to win, Sherry wrote,
You know this game’s a winner when the teacher (me) learns too! I opened the beautifully illustrated game board of a town and started reading the instructions when I was asked whether metal and glass or metal and plastic are collected together for recycling in our town. Let me check… Part of the game prep is to attach a colored sticker to each recycling area of the board that corresponds to the color used where I live. Now you have me participating in the fun of recycling, moving my truck across town from the “Breakdown Mechanic” building to “Glutton’s Market,” or “Seafood Pizza,” collecting associated items, car batteries, yogurt containers, or tuna fish cans. Each object has a point value related to the ecological value of materials recycled so if you successfully land on the building, retrieve the object and deposit it in the correct collection site–paper, metal, plastic, glass, special waste or bulky items, you score those points. “Recycle Rally” is a game of critical thinking, strategy and learning that begins with the set up and continues through play! It didn’t take long for players to head for high value objects and the appropriate recycling area on the outskirts of town. Since each truck can only carry two items at a time, players are strategic in plotting their path to maximize points earned. The game play is cleverly divided into three weeks, after which there is a final tally of points earned through smart recycling and a show of remorse as remaining objects are sent to the incinerator, which “lets off poisonous gases” as my young friend added. A sorting chart is included that lists the objects, recovery value, toxicity, CO2 omissions, volume and refuse category, providing further knowledge in becoming responsible stewards of our environment. This game would be great fun for the family as well as an essential addition to the classroom, building awareness related to caring for our planet.
She chose WaterGame to win a PAL Award and wrote:
Want to pick up your conservation IQ while swimming down a beautiful river? Join in this fun family game of gaining and losing water filled with competition as well as cooperation. Players advance down the river based on “Savings” or “Wasting” cards, while absorbing tips on how to be good stewards of our water. Point values are assigned to positive and negative impacts on our water supply. “Use a watering can for your garden” adds 19 gallons to your water inventory, while “running the dishwasher half empty” wastes 7 gallons, depleting your stash. Players can also advance or retreat based on answering “Question cards” containing fascinating facts about water conservation, “Frogs make more tadpoles if the water is clean?” “Where is most of the earth’s fresh water?” or “How long can a human survive without drinking water?” Players caught wasting too much water must rely on the community cistern to replenish their supply, thanks to donations from players who have had better luck collecting water saving points. It was fun to see players strategize as how to best keep the cistern full so that no one would be caught at the end of the game without water, since everyone would lose! Do we rotate donations? Does the person farthest ahead always donate? When should we donate? Lots of conversation was generated around negotiations and group strategizing, building language and math skills. Players learn the specific ways to conserve water as well as expand their conservation vocabulary: potable, desalinate, or hydrologic cycle. One of the fun outcomes of playing this game was the conversation generated throughout the next few days, when players became aware of turning on the shower ahead of time, leaving the water running while brushing their teeth, and sweeping the driveway instead of hosing it! What a fun way to learn and have an impact on our planet.
These comments from Sherry mean a lot, especially when you consider her background. For more than 35 years, Sherry Artemenko has worked with children to improve their speech and language, serving as a speech language pathologist in both the Connecticut public and private school systems and private practice.
Working and playing with children daily, Sherry has become an expert in evaluating children’s toys, games, and books for their language-building value. Sherry started Play on Words LLC in 2003, after 16 years with the Fairfield Public Schools. The mission of her practice is threefold: 1) to serve as a therapist to children with special needs, helping to build their speech and language skills and 2) to assist new moms and dads of typically developing children, ages birth to 3 years, as a personal trainer, teaching parents how to talk, read and play with their child to enhance language, and 3) to advise parents, companies and authors on the attributes of the best toys, games and media to build language.
Prior to establishing Play on Words LLC, Sherry’s career as a speech language pathologist spanned 22 years in the Illinois and Connecticut public and private schools, where she worked with pre-school to high school-aged children with special needs. In this capacity, she served on multidisciplinary diagnostic teams at the preschool and elementary levels. In addition, she helped to develop programs for teaching language through literature and worked in collaboration with classroom teachers to bridge language, reading and writing in school curriculum.
Sherry graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders. Licensed in Wisconsin, she is a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.