Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: This is one of my all-time favorite games. It’s a little card game that is actually a smaller version of the I Can Do That! Board Game, which I haven’t had the chance to play yet. It’s very simple to set up and tons of fun for preschoolers and early elementary students. Last week I played it with a four year old and his father. We were all cracking up at the silly shenanigans inspired by the cards!
The game includes a foam fishbowl, and three types of cards: red cards that tell you what action to take such as “tip toe” or “penguin walk,” blue cards that tell you where to go such as “to a bathtub” or “to a book,” and yellow cards that tell you what to do with the fish such as “with the fish under your chin.” You put those three cards together and end up with a specific instruction for your turn, such as “Penguin walk to the bathtub with the fish under your chin.” That sentence along should make it pretty clear why this game appeals so much to young learners.
Skills & Modifications: The instructions suggest that you arrange the cards facedown in a grid. When a player takes a turn, he/she must turn over three cards. If they do not get one of each color, they turn the cards back over, and it’s the next player’s turn. The game suggests that for young players, you should arrange the cards in a grid face up so they can choose one of each color. I like this modification because it allows learners to choose cards they comprehend and/or are motivated by. The modification I usually make is that instead of spreading out the cards in a grid, I make three stacks of cards divided by colors. Each player chooses one card from each pile for their turn instead of finding cards in the grid.
I also occasionally add in cards to work on the specific skills I am generalizing or maintaining with my student. Click here to see some suggestions for additions to each category of card.
Finally, I usually don’t play this game with a winner. I find that the game is entertaining in the actions it creates and students enjoy it immensely. While I don’t believe we should play games in such a way that “everyone wins,” I sometimes feel that gamemakers tack on a method for winning (usually collecting the most cards or getting rid of your cards the fastest) out of a sense of obligation rather than because it is a logical conclusion to the game.
No matter how or if I modify the game, it is useful for practicing a variety of skills.
- Peer play – This is a great game for working on peer play because the actions that other players are taking are frequently interesting to learner with autism, increasing the likelihood that they will attend to other players’ turns. One of the learners I played this with was so excited about other players’ turns that he kept trying to turn over the cards to see what they would get!
- Gross Motor Skills – The game is designed to have fun a variety of gross motor skills. If there are gross motor skills on the cards that you know your learner cannot complete, you can remove those cards or you can add in cards with instructions you know they can complete.
- Expressive Language/Tacting – If you are working with a learner who does not yet know how to read, these cards are fantastic motivators for practicing tacting (or labeling) common objects and actions.
- Listening – For some students, we play this game as an activity for following multi-step directions. I’ll pick the cards, then tell them what do as a complete sentence, such as “Pick up the fish. Put it between your knees, then walk to the window.
- Prepositions – The yellow cards allow for students to practice following instructions involving prepositions such as between, in, on, or under.
Pros: This is a fun way to practice novel gross motor skills and bring out the silly side of kids. It’s also very easy to differentiate if you’re playing with a group. Based on skill level, you could play with multiple learners but have some imitate you doing the cards they chose, some use the pictures as prompts, and others read the cards for themselves or for the other players. My students are also usually highly motivated by the Cat and the Hat, so they enjoy the illustrations on all of the cards as well as the activity itself.
Cons: It’s possible to get a combination that is actually impossible to do, such as crab walk to the door with the fish on your arm. If you live in a place like New York, some cards are also not possible (particularly the one instructing the player to go to “three windows.”)
Cost: $9.99 You should invest in this game if: you’re looking for a fun game to get siblings involved in play with your learner with autism, seeking a game to practice gross motor skills, or trying to find a game for group activities.
ABLLS: A8, C27, C30, C33, D3, D4, D5, D7, D20, G4, G22, K5, K14
VB-MAPP: Tact 3, Tact 5, Motor Imitation 5, Tact 7, Tact 8, Tact 9, Listener Responding 9, Motor Imitation 8, Motor Imitation 10, Listener Responding 12