Teach Through Games: Pictionary Card Game

Teach Through Games: Pictionary Card Game

Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School

Description: Pictionary Card Game takes your classic game of Pictionary, removes the drawing aspect, adds in some pre-drawn cards and a dash of Charades to create a whole new game. The game includes 2 sets of 88 picture cards (the blue set is pictured below) and 66 clue cards that come in two levels: Kid and Adult. The person trying to get their team to guess the clue is called the “picturist.” Two picturists act out clues simultaneously (one with the blue set of cards and the other with the red set of cards) to try get their team to guess correctly. Picturists can combine cards or act with the cards to help their team guess the correct answer.


With many students, I spread out one deck of picture cards and we take turns trying to get each other to guess the clues.

Skills & Modifications: The game includes a great illustration of tips for using the picture cards (pictured below,) which I introduce to all students prior to playing. Before we start the game, we explore the cards a bit and practice putting them together to make different images. 


According to the rules of the game, before drawing a card, the “picturist” has to pick a number between one and four. That number correlates to the clue they have to act out. The biggest modification I make for my students is that I allow them to draw a card,  tell us what the theme or category is, and then they pick the choice they think they can act out the best. Below is an example of one student’s picture creation.


The student read the category “Wind” to me, then turned the card facedown. I used her picture creation to guess the clue. In helping me guess, she used her fingers to move the two cards so they looked like a kite-string and kite moving in the wind.

The game is also designed with a red team and blue team, including identical sets of cards. This allows for two “picturists” to act out clues for their teams at the same time. Having two people act out the scenario with two separate teams trying to figure out the answer is too much simultaneous activity for many of my students. Instead, I usually introduce it as a game of taking turns.

With these two modifications in place (choosing a clue instead of having one chosen randomly, and taking turns instead of two teams playing simultaneously) I am able to play the game with students successfully. They get to have fun, while working on some skills that may be challenging for them at the same time!

  • Categories – This game organizes all of it’s clues by category. It’s fantastic for students who have mastered many categories and need practice thinking in categories. For example, some students will know the category is Wind, but will start to make guesses that are unrelated to wind. For these students, we will write down the category once the picturist has revealed it, to help the student remain focused on making appropriate guesses.
  • Nonverbal Communication – This game requires that the picturist not speak. For some students with autism, using the pictures to create the clues may actually be much easier than generating clues through speech. For others, it may be difficult to generate clues from pictures that don’t look exactly like the image in their mind.
  • Abstract Thinking – This game requires abstract thinking from both the picturist and the person trying to guess the clue. Abstract thinking is an important skill for all students, and especially difficult for our learners with autism. Moreover, I have had difficulty finding games that practice the skill in a way that is motivating to students. For some of my students, they reach their frustration tolerance before they are able to create or guess clues. For them, I work on the skills described above, but do it in a way that we are exploring the materials together instead of playing it as a game. For example, if we were doing the kite clue pictured above, I might bring out the three picture cards and ask them if they can figure out a way to use those cards to show “kite.” Then I systematically make it more difficult, either by providing some cards but not ALL the cards they would need, or by providing extra cards that would not help them create the clue.
  • Peer Play/Teamwork – This game requires that the learners are attending to each other’s behavior, so it automatically sets up a situation for peer play. It’s also fun to do as teacher vs. students, so the students are working together to figure out the clue. With students with autism, they may require prompts to listen to each others’ guesses and try to figure out the clue together.
  • Scanning – This game requires higher order scanning because there are dozens of pictures to scan through and the student has to scan items to look similar to or can represent other items. This is not the type of scanning you would expect from early learners, but from students in upper elementary through high school. K

Pros: You can play this with just two players or with much larger groups. It’s a great tool to foster team work with older students. I also love that it comes with two levels of play.

Cons: This is a game that pushes the frustration tolerance for many learner with autism. It is important to anticipate where the learner may struggle and make modifications so they can practice the essential skills described above.

Cost: $9.99 You should invest in this game if: you are working on peer play or social skills with your learner, you are seeking opportunities to practice abstract thinking, or you are working with learners who need more complex tasks to practice skills related to categories.

ABLLS: C39, K10, K11, L25


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