Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: Skunk Bingo puts a whole new spin on matching games for young learners. This game can be played with up to four players. It includes 4 game boards, 48 animal tiles, 1 spinner, and 1 log. That’s right…1 log. On a player’s turn, he/she spins the spinner. It will land on a 1, 2, or 3 (indicating the number of animal tiles to slide into the log) or it will land on a skunk (indicating that the player must slide a skunk into the the log.) If animals come out of the other side of the log on your turn, then you get to place them on your game board. If a skunk comes out of the other side of the log on your turn, then the players say “Peeyou!” and the stinky skunk scares away all the animals that came out of the log with it.
Skills & Modifications: One modification I made with a couple of learners was to draw the trace of the log on a piece of paper (pictured below.) While the log was in that spot, it could not be moved.
Before the game started and/or after the game started, the learner was able to hold the log and manipulate it how they wished. For one learner in particular who was very excited about the animals going into and coming out of the log, it was challenging for him to keep his hands down during gameplay.
- Motor Skills: If your learner is motivated by the game, it’s a great way to practice grasping with the thumb and index finger because the card has to be held in that way for the learner to be able to slide it into the log. Many of the learners with autism I have worked with try to do tasks with one hand and need lots of practice to use both hands when necessary. This game is also great with practicing that, as the learner must hold the log steady with one hand while placing the card inside with the other. For some learners, you may need to hold the log for them, but you should try to fade this out as quickly as possible so the learner can independently complete his/her turn.
- Cause & Effect: Skunk Bingo includes a very simple cause-and-effect element. Once a certain number of cards are inside the log, then adding another card will cause one card to be pushed out of the other end of the log. The learners I used it with were captivated by this and excited to guess what might come out next.
- Matching: The foundation of this game is matching. When an animal comes of the log, they must see if he/she can match it to an animal pictures on his/her game board.
- Scanning: This is great for multiple levels of scanning. Each game board has nine pictures on it. The learner must scan his/her own game board, then scan the field of animal tiles still in play to choose which animals to place into the log. When animals come out of the log, he/she must scan the game board again to see if there is a match. I appreciate that there is the organized array on the game board and the messy array of the game tiles spread out on the table for the learner to practice scanning in multiple ways.
- Probability: As mentioned above, if a player spin and it lands on a number, the player gets to choose that number of animals to slide into the log. Players can look at their game board and see what animals they need, then choose those to slide into the log. But before they slide any animals in, I’ll ask them what animals they think will come out of the log. They have to attend to other players’ turns and remember what animals might be in there. The learners I used this with especially loved trying to guess if the skunk would be coming out next. Once they know a skunk has been placed in the log, the anticipation of seeing when it comes out increases the motivation in gameplay. In the beginning of the game, there is also a small window of practice for the probability of a card being pushed out of the other end of the log, since it starts out empty at the beginning of the game.
- Peer play: This has been a great game for encouraging play with peers, parents, and siblings because the learner with autism is frequently interested in attending to the the other players’ turns to see what animal comes out of the log.
Pros: The game is easy to learn but can practice a wide range of skills. The learners I used it with enjoyed the game and maintained motivation in it for long periods of time. With two learners, I used it with working on family interactions. The family members (both parents and siblings) were also motivated in the game and enjoyed seeing the learner with autism focused on the activity. Many of my learners also loved saying “Peeyou” every time the skunk appeared. This silly aspect of the game was motivating and shared interaction between the player with autism and the other people playing the game.
Cons: You may have to practice with your learner and add prompts to prevent them from picking up the log during gameplay. Two of my learners wanted to grab the log and look inside every time an animal came out. You may need to prepare in advance as described in the modification section above. I found that with one student I had to response block throughout the game, meaning that I had to keep my eye on him and physically place my hand in front of the log every time he reached for it, then redirect him to place his hands in his lap. While this is listed as a con, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the game with your learner. It’s helpful to teach our young learners to differentiate circumstances in which you can and cannot pick up an item you want.
Cost: $16.99 You should invest in this game if: you are working with young learners, you are seeking materials to encourage peer play and social skills, you are in need of a game with an aspect of cause and effect.
ABLLS: A8, A10, B5, C6, K8, K9, L4, Z25
VB-MAPP: VP-MTS 2, VP-MTS 6
**Skunk Bingo was provided to me for free by the company Gamewright to write about here at Teach Through. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.