Teach Through Games: Pop Up Pirate

Teach Through Games: Pop Up Pirate

Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary

Description: I bought this game several years ago when I happened to have several students who were popuphighly motivated by pirates. The game is quite simple. This unfortunate pirate is placed into the barrel. Then players take turns pushing swords into the barrel until the pirate pops out. It’s a quick game with a big pay off because that pirate really goes flying!

Skills & Modifications: This is one of those games that works on very few skills, but does it well. The game instructions state that if your sword makes the pirate pop out, then you’re out for the next round. Play continues until only one player is left standing, and that player is the winner. I almost always modify the game so that all players play each round. It provides a lot of additional practice in the skills listed below, and the kids are typically so excited about the pirate popping out that being declared the winner is not very motivating in comparison.

  • Motor Skills – This game is all about motor skills. Learners must grasp each sword between thumb and index finger in order to place it in the barrel. Moreover, the learner must hold the barrel steady with one hand while placing the sword with the other hand. Many young learners with autism and other developmental delays struggle with using both hands to more effeciently complete a task. For a few learners, I may modify the game by holding the barrel steady for them, but I try to push them towards independence as quickly as possible.
  • Peer Play/Taking Turns – This is a fantastic game for teaching young learners to take turns. Each turn is very quick, so the wait-time is short.

Pros: Many of my students are highly motivated by games that have a cause and effect aspect (such as Candy Land Castle in which the learner pulls a lever and a shape flies out of the castle.) Pop Up Pirate is one of the best because the intensity of the effect is huge.

Cons: If you are working with a learner who is sensitive to sound, this game might not be a good recommendation because the sound of the spring popping the pirate up is quite loud.

Ideas of extending the lesson: With two learners, we have explored what makes the pirate pop up. We have explored a small number of springs as well as slinkies in open-ended activities. This is an activity that should be supervised.

Cost: $24.99 You should invest in this game if: you have a learner who is highly motivated by games with a cause and effect aspect, you are seeking motivating ways to practice motor skills, or you want to find games that are good for introducing turn-taking.

ABLLS: A19, Z11, Z14


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