Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School
Description: Let me start by saying that it’s rare for me to try out a new game and think I’ve never seen a game like this before. But that is exactly what happened with Katachi. It’s a beautifully designed, motivating game that practices a wide range of challenging skills. The tiles are arranged in a grid pattern, and the goal is to move tiles based on shape and color to your corner tile. The first player to stack three tiles on his/her corner tile and one tile on the adjacent tile wins the game.
Skills & Modifications: The rules for this game are more complex than most children’s games. Therefore, I’ve found it’s especially important to introduce this game in steps for learners with autism and other devleopmental delays. View the snapguide below to see how I shape gameplay for Katachi.
SimplyFun has also included two separate versions of the game. One includes the use of the dice, while the other is a bit simpler and includes “ladder tiles” to determine what color tile you can start with.
- Comparisons/Alike & Different – These tiles are great for thinking about multiple characteristics of an item. As shown in the snapguide, for many learners I start the game by working on comparing just a few tiles before introducing more complex steps. The game requires players to think about three chracteristics: size, shape, and color.
- Scanning – A high level of scanning ability is required in order to play this game as designed. Players must scan the materials and think about the three characteristics of each tile as well as scanning for a path to move tiles to a specific area. For my learners who struggle with this, I may introduce the game with a smaller number of tiles as described in the snapguide above.
- Feature – I appreciate that this game provides interesting materials to practice and generalize basic features (shape, size, and color) for older learners. Even if you can’t play the game as designed, the materials can be helpful for practicing these concepts. If you can play the game as designed, it’s a great way to practice mentally organizing all three types of features included in the game. For some learners I create a small textual cue to help with gameplay (pictured below.) However, I fade that textual cue as quickly as possible.
- Sorting – This games offers a unique way to practice sorting, because it provides a type of sorting through play by multiple characteristics in order to reach the goal of the game and prevent opponents from reaching that goal before you.
- Patterns – While scanning, each player is searching for patterns based on the three characteristics. Becuase the board changes with every player’s turn, the patterns also change.
- Intraverbal Skills – I like this game because it provides different types of conversation options, such as discussing strategy, explaining why you moved a tile a specific way, and talking about the rules. Because the game is complex, it allows for lots of opportunity to discuss the game itself without allowing for rote explanations of what’s happening in the game.
- Strategy/Organization – There are multiple strategies a player may use to try to win the game. There are times in which I might play the game with them with a new goal to teach a specific strategy. It’s important to talk about the strategies all players are using to emphasize that there is strategy and to understand the decisions your learner is making. However, it’s more important to be aware of your learner’s interest and motivation in the game; you don’t want to talk about strategy so much that they lose interest or become bored.
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving – This game has a board that is changing with every player’s turn. So a learner may have an idea for his/her next move, but then be unable to make it. This requires the learner to think critically about what moves are available and to problem solve as the gameboard changes.
Pros: The materials included in this game are of a very high quality. They’re also visually interesting. With two different sessions, I pulled out the materials during a break and the learner immediately asked “What is that?” or “Can we play?” just upon seeing the game tiles. Finally, SimplyFun has a great feature on their website that helps you determine if this is an appropriate game for your learner with autism. Click here, then click on the tab in the middle of the page that says “Autism Needs.”
Cons: This game is more complicated than most of the games that I use with students. Be prepared to teach the game in simple steps as instructed above in the Snapguide, as frustration tolerance may be low as learners try to understand. However, once learners do grasp the rules of the game, they enjoy the game greatly.
Ideas of extending the lesson: SimplyFun has included ideas for extending the lesson on their website. You can view their ideas here.
Cost: $36.00 You should invest in this game if: you have a learner who is highly motivated by visual perceptions tasks and games, you are seeking unique games for peer play, or you are seeking high quality materials to practice a wide range of skills.
ABLLS: B18, B25, C38, C47, C48, C49, C55, H33, H44, H47
VB-MAPP: Tact 13, Listener Responding 11, LRFFC 11, Math 14
**Katachi was provided to me for free by the company SimplyFun to write about here. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.