Teach Through Games: Big Picture Apples to Apples

Teach Through Games: Big Picture Apples to Apples

Age Level: Upper Elementary, Middle School

Description: Apples to Apples is a popular family game, but this version makes it much more accessible for learners with bigpicautism, young learners, and learners who struggle with reading. In this version, each player is dealt five red apple cards. A red apple card shows and image. Then the “judge” chooses a green apple card, which contains an adjective. Each player must choose one of their cards that best illustrates that adjective. Then they must try to convince the judge that their card is the best. If the judge agrees, then that player gets to keep the green apple card. The first player to collect five green apple cards wins the game!

Skills and Modifications: With some learners, I use the materials as an activity without a defined winner. For example, in a 1:1 teaching situation, I deal both of us 5 red apple cards. Then we flip over a green apple card and both play a picture that best fits that adjective. We talk about it, but don’t deem one card as the winner.

Expressive language – This game provides lots of opportunities for players to use language to explain why they made a particular choice. It provides parameters and structure for those conversations, which can enable more success with expressive language. It may be beneficial to include sentence starters for learners who are struggling with this, such as “I chose ______ because ________.”

Flexible thinking – Many learners with autism struggle to think flexibly about different objects or concepts. This game encourages learners to study pictures and pull out specific details, think about other meanings for words, and even make up a photo (75)story about how a specific adjective might fit a picture. The photo to the right shows a great example of how a learner might think about a photo.

Synonyms – I love that each card contains three synonyms for the adjective! Its a great way to practice synonyms, and it increases understanding of the words used in the game.

Adjectives – The game requires that learners understand each adjective and use it appropriately. For many of the learners with autism I use it with, I removed adjectives that I knew would be too difficult for them from the deck.

Pros: I love that it’s easy to modify this game to be very short or quite long. The pictures are motivating to many of my learners. An unexpected benefit of this game is that it allows for spontaneous and intentional humor, such as when one of my 12-year-old students with Aspergers played the card below, then caught my eye and burst out laughing. It was a great moment of appropriate and shared humor.

photo (73)

Cons: There are some pictures that may be inappropriate for your learner, based on his/her age and unique needs. For some learners I had to remove cards that might scare them (such as a flaming skull) and for all my learners I removed cards that had an element of sex, such as a picture of a woman dressed as a school girl popping gum and writing “I will not chew gum” on the blackboard. While I found the content of some photos inappropriate, most of the pictures are great and the game is still valuable because of it’s wealth of useful materials.

Ideas for extending the lesson: You can use these materials to create a scavenger hunt. Give each player 2-5 green apple cards. Then have them scan the newspaper or images such as those found at Time Magazine’s Lightbox to find images that match the adjective provided on the green apple card. You can let them take a photo of the green card next to the image and/or write a sentence or paragraph about how that image fits the adjective.

Cost: $29.95 (You can also get a Big Picture Apples to Apples Snack Pack for $12.99 which contains fewer calls and can be played by itself or as an add on to the original game.) You should invest in this game if: you are seeking age-appropriate games for upper elementary or middle school learners who struggle with reading, you are seeking games to develop language in motivating ways, or you are seeking games that can be played by a wide range of ages.

ABLLS: C38, C54, G39, G42, G46, G47, H40,H44, H47, L32, L33 
VB-MAPP: N/A

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