Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School
Description: CardLine is an easy to learn game that practices logic and memory skills. It’s a great choice for learners who like animals or are highly motivated by memorizing facts. Prior to playing, players decide with which characteristic the game will be played: size, weight, or lifespan. Each card is two-sided, a front side and a characteristics side, as pictured below.
Each player is then dealt four cards, with the “characteristics” sides face down. An initial card is placed in the playing field. On each players turn, he/she must place a card in the line, making an educated guess about what is the appropriate space for that card. For instance, if players have decided to play the game with the characteristic of lifespan, then the first player must choose to place a card before or after the initial card, based on which animal he/she thinks has a longer lifespan. In the example below, the initial card is the orangutang. The first player decides to play the Labrador dog card, and guesses that the Labrador has a shorter lifespan than the orangutang. He places the card, then turns it over to see if his guess was correct. If his guess had been incorrect (meaning he had guessed the Labrador had a longer lifespan than the orangutang, then that card would have been placed in a discard pile, and he would have to add a new card to his hand. Then it’s the next person’s turn.
As you can see, the game gets more challenging as it progresses because players will have to place a card between a longer line of choices. The first person to correctly place all his/her cards wins the game.
Skills & Modifications: This game easily incorporates several math and science skills, as well as critical thinking and sequencing skills. There are some modifications you can make within each skill, but the most common modification I make is to pick the best characteristic for play for that particular learner. For most of my students, that means we play based on the charactersitic of size or weight. For a few students, I have modified the game by choosing cards that illustrate animals I know the student is familiar with prior to playing the game.
– Scanning – This game requires players to scan a field of information that is increasing with each turn. The field is clearly organized and players must be thoughtful about the information on each card in the line as well as the cards in their own hands before placing new cards.
– Sequencing/Seriation – The game is designed to create sequences based on one of three characteristics. I appreciate that this is a real-life connection to how you might use sequencing, and it’s presented in a fun and engaging way.
– Compare and Contrast/Critical Thinking – On a turn, each player must mentally compare and contrast the information in the playing field to the information in his/her hand. There are multiple pieces of information that he/she must consider with each play.
– Strategy – As learners master the game, we discuss the strategy they use when playing. For exammple, should you play your most obvious cards first, or save them for the end? This is an aspect of critical thinking that can be difficult for many learners with autism as it involves planning ahead and changing strategy as needed throughout the course of the game.
– Estimation – I love to introduce this game after a lesson on estimation to practice the language for this concept. For example, if I’m placing a card in the line pictured below, I can think aloud “I am thinking that the lion lives about as long as the leopard since they are both large cats.” Then, when I turn the card over, revealing that the lion lives for 15 years, I can say “I was right! They are about the same, though in exact amounts the lion’s average life expectancy is one year longer.”
– Averages/Mean – All of the numerical data on these cards is based on averages. You can use these materials to facilitate discussion about why it is useful to have averages in data, or how (to reference the example pictured at the top of the page) one lion may live longer than one Labrador even though their average life expectancy is shorter than that of a Labrador.
– Decimals – I have one student who had played this game quite a bit, but only with the size and weight charactersitics. After we completed a lesson on decimals and place value, I pulled out cards that used place decimals in describing the weight of each animal. We then played the game, but modified it so all cards were “characteristic” side up, and directly applied the lessons we had just learned about decimals and place value to correctly order the animals from lightest to heaviest.
– Taking Turns – For learners who are highly motivated by either animals or memorizing facts, this has been a great game for practicing taking turns. Each turn is relatively quick, so there’s not a long wait time for learners with a low frustration tolerance for waiting. Many of my learners are also interested in attending to other people’s turns because it directly effects what will happen on their next turn.
– Categories – Each card shows a category of creature, such as amphibians, sea mammals, and arachnids. Over time, learners become familiar with these categories of animals and can discuss them in detail. You can facilitate this by making your own observations throughout the game or asking probing questions as you play.
Pros: It is astonishing how much great information is contained on each of these cards! I also love that you can play the game with a high frequency because you’re able to change which characteristic you use in each game, not to mention the fact that there are 110 cards in the first place! And, though I have not listed it in the skills above, each card also has a small illustration showing the species’ level of risk of extinction. This provides yet another piece of information for learners to discuss.
Cons: While this game is a great entry point for many discussion about science and scientific terms, I am disappointed that the game describes its categories as “Families” when those animal families illustrated on each card are not actually scientific families. It seems they should have used a different term, or instead used the actual scientific families. It is important to note this with your learners so as not to cause any confusion.
Ideas for extending the lesson: After playing the game, it may be fun for learners to create a permanent piece of art categorizing and organizing animals by one characteristic of their choosing. You can cut animals out of magazine, print pictures from the internet, or go out and take pictures while on a zoo trip. Have learners then choose a characteristic, research the informaiton, then glue the animals in the correct order. Many of my learners are highly motivated by permanent products, so this is especially interesting for them.
Cost: $14.99 You should invest in this game if: you are a parent whose child is highly motivated by animals and/or memorizing facts, you teach science or math, you are seeking unique games for working on basic critical thinking skills.
ABLLS: A10, B18, B25, H31, K15