Teach Through Games: You’ve Been Sentenced

Teach Through Games: You’ve Been Sentenced

Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School

Description: This unique game gets players using funny words, famous names, and familiar places to construct creative sentences. Each player must also be able to demonstrate that their sentence is grammatically correct and understandable.

you'vebeensentencedSkills & Modifications: I love playing this game with my students who enjoy wordplay. It has been a great choice for my learners with autism ages 10 and up who have the prerequisite skills in language.

– Problem Solving – One of the great aspects of the game is that each player must rotate cards to find the best options for creating a sentence. Some learners struggle with this, so I may “stack the deck” to be sure that they receive ten cards that can create a sentence. Then the focus is solely on solving the problem of placing the cards correctly. For some learners I may reduce the number of cards in play, then systematically increase the number of cards until they are playing the game as designed.

– Playing with Speed – A timer is included with the game. When played as designed, all players must complete a sentence before the sand timer runs out. For many learners, I remove the timer or set a different timer for a longer period of time.

– Parts of Speech – When working on specific parts of speech, I’ll use the You’ve Been Sentenced cards almost as if they were Mad Libs. For example, if I’m working on verbs I’ll create a sentence that is missing a verb, then give “verb” cards to each player. Everyone tries to come up with the best verb for the sentence.

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In the example above, a sentence is created with the verb missing, then each player contributes a verb to complete the sentence.

– Flexibility – This game is great for helping learners with autism engage in play that does not allow for stereotypy or repetitive play. Each learner must create sentences with the limited selection of words within their hand. The game also includes well over 500 cards so it’s highly unlikely that learners will ever have the opportunity to repeat sentences.

– Peer Play – For learners who enjoy wordplay, this is a great option for engaging them in peer play. The potential for silly and funny sentences increases the likelihood of appropriate joint attention and shared humor.

Pros: I love that the instructions include ELEVEN variations for the game! The add-on decks have also been fantastic. One of my learners frequently request that we play with the Gourmet Cuisine Add-on Deck.

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One student creating sentences using the Gourmet Cuisine Add-On Deck.

Cons: For some learners, the amount of information on each card can be overwhelming. While the game is still valuable, preparing materials in advance to modify it to meet their unique needs can be quite time-consuming.

Ideas for extending the lesson: I think Mad Libs are a nice follow-up for this game. With some learners, you can have them create new cards based on one theme. It’s a fun way to consider the variations of a single word, such as “paging, pager, page, pages, and paged.”

Cost: $24.95, with add-on decks at $7.95. You should invest in this game if: you teach English Language Arts, if you work with a learner who is highly motivated by wordplay, or if you are seeking interesting materials for older learners.

ABLLS: H49, K15, Q14


You’ve Been Sentenced Add-On Decks were provided to me for free by the company McNeill Designs to write about here. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own. 

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