Teach Through Games: Joe Name It

Teach Through Games: Joe Name It

Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School

Description: Joe Name It is unique in that you’re playing a simple card and dice game, but you’re playing with a player who isn’t even there! In this game, a player draws a card, rolls the dice, the reads the card aloud filling in the blank with the card on joenameitthe die. If it’s a “Just Joe” card, then only the player who drew the card tries to respond. If it’s an “Any Joe” card, then it becomes a race to respond. Whoever responds first correctly gets to keep the card, and the first player to ten cards wins. But watch out, because if no one can respond correctly then “Joe” gets to keep the card. If Joe gets tens cards first, then he’s the winner.

Skills & Modifications: Joe Name It practices social skills and executive functioning skills in a fun, fast-paced way. The biggest modification I make is to remove cards that are not appropriate for my learner’s current skill level. Another modification I make is to create a visual for the “Joe,” the player who isn’t there. This is pictured below. A final modification is to reduce the number of cards required before a player is deemed the winner, which shortens the game, and important modification for many learners with autism or other developmental delays.

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We made a physical space for “Joe” at the table so it was easier for my student to participate in this aspect of the game.

  • Being Flexible – This is a great game for getting a lot of practice with being flexible when things don’t go the way you expect. As the instructions state, “It’s possible that there is no correct answer for a given card/die combination.” For example, when the card said “Name a body part which people have _____ of” my student rolled a six. This can be difficult for learners with autism. This is great for practicing the skill because if a player recognizes there is no correct answer, he/she can respond “No Joe!” If no one can find a correct response, then that player gets to keep the card. To modify for this, you may decide to go through the cards and pick some that require flexibility, or for some learners you may decide to remove those cards altogether.
  • Quick Responding – There are two types of cards in Joe Name It. One is the Just Joe card, which means that only the player that drew the card can respond. The other is the Any Joe card, which means that the race is on, and whoever responds the fastest with a correct answer gets to keep the card. Before introducing this game with peers, I go through some of the cards with my learner to see if they responding quickly enough while also maintaining interest if answers are coming slowly. If they are, then we’re ready for peer play. If not, they’re probably not yet ready for this game.
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Examples of “Just Joe” and “Any Joe” cards.

  • Teamwork – With one student who was motivated by the game, we divided into teams of two to play. This way, she was required to work with her sister to generate responses. For example, when the card said “Name _____ first ladies,” she rolled a four. On her own, she would have struggled to come up with four names, but with her and her sister working it out together, they were able to respond correctly. Working together to win the game was highly motivating for my student and provided an excellent opportunity for allowing positive sibling interaction.
  • Categories/Class – This game required higher-order skill related to identifying specific items within a given category. For some students, I do go through the cards and remove any cards they wouldn’t know. For example, many of my students would be able to respond to cards such as “Name _____ Yiddish word(s).” or “Name a celebrity that’s been married _____times.” However, I’ve been able to choose cards for specific students from age 8 up to 13 that allowed them to play the game as designed without encountering cards that were inappropriate for their age or skill level. A modificaiton I make with some learners is to take a die from another game that only goes up to 3 to avoid situations where the learner might have to come up with 4, 5, or 6 items within one category.

Pros: This is a great game for trivia-loving kids who love to shout out the answers. I also like that it pulls from such a wide range of topics. Adults enjoy the game just as much as kids, making it a great game for the whole family. Finally, two of my students love the idea that there was someone playing with us who wasn’t really there. It provided an opportunity for us to share in something humorous and silly.

Cons: While I love that the game includes a wide range of topics, it also covers a wide range of skill levels. There are many cards that elementary-aged kids would be able to respond to, but there are other cards that only adutls would be able to respond to. I wish they would come out with a Joe Name It, Jr. targetted specifically at elementary-aged kids!

Ideas for extending the lesson: As I’ve done with other games, my favorite activity with this one is to have learners create their own cards for the game. The cards can be from any interest area or can be for a specific subject (such as animals.)

Cost: $9.99 You should invest in this game if: you are seeking games the whole family can play with middle or high school-aged children, you are looking for fun and quick games, or you have a learner who is highly motivated by facts and trivia.



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