Teach Through Games: Phenomenonsense

Teach Through Games: Phenomenonsense

Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School

Description: Each puzzle card in this deck has a nonsensical image on the front that is a surprising combination of two things. The goal is to figure out what this image would be called if the names of these two items were combined.


Skills & Modifications: This set of puzzle cards is highly motivating for many of my students and easy to use to meet the individual needs.

– Syllables – For older learners who are still struggling with the concept of syllables, this is an age appropriate and fun way to practice. With one student I worked with, we would write the names of both items on a piece of paper, underline the common syllable, then figure out how to combine the words. For example, for the first card pictured above, we wrote down “donut” and “tornado,” then underlined the syllable “do” in each word, then combined the word.

– Flexible Thinking – Many learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are rigid in their thinking. These brainteasers encourage learners to create names for these absurd items. For example, for the second card pictured one student I worked with struggled with the idea of calling it “dice cream,” but instead wanted to call it “funny ice cream.”

– Picture Comprehension – Learners must be able to comprehend the two items in the nonsense image pictured on the card. They must also be flexible in their thinking, specifically when an item can be called by two or more different names.

– Humor – One of my students, an eleven year old with Asperger’s, gets the giggles every time we work on these brainteasers together. It’s a fun way to share humor with your learner, or to get learner’s with ASD enjoying humor with their peers.

– Expressive Language – For learners with higher skill levels in language, these cards serve as great conversation starters. It’s especially fun for a couple of my students to discuss what it would be like if these objects actually existed.

Pros: The nonsense images on these cards have been highly motivating for many of my students.

Cons: There are a few cards that are a bit of a stretch or include items my learners are not familiar with. If you want to introduce these cards, you should go through the deck and pull out the cards that are not well-suited for your particular learner’s needs.

Cost: $11.50 You should invest in this activity if: your learner is highly motivated by word and/or visual puzzles, you are looking for fun ways to practice syllable-work, or you’re looking for a way to share humor with your learners.

ABLLS: H43, H49, I9

VB-MAPP: Intraverbal 15

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