Teach Through Games: Walk the Dogs

Teach Through Games: Walk the Dogs

WALKDOGS-largeAge level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description: Walk the Dogs is a simple game that gets kids counting and strategizing while having a blast. After you line up all the dogs in the center of the playing area, players build their own row of dogs and receive extra points if they can group similar breeds together throughout their row. I’ve used this with two students with autism who are motivated by animals, and have found that it’s successful when working with learners of varying ages and skill levels. 

Skills & Modifications: This game requires few modificaitons. The one modificaiton I made when introducing it to both of my students was to remove the special action cards (3 leash cards, 5 bone cards, and 3 dog catcher cards.) As the student gained mastery of the game, I introduced each special action card one at a time. 

Counting – This game provides lots of practice in counting up to three. With one family, we played this game with the learner with autism and two siblings. One sibling was four years old, and served as a helper with counting, then also helped pick up the dogs. She loved being the helper, even though she was not yet ready to play the game as designed.

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Position – Identifying front and back, and using the concepts to play the game accurately. This skill can be challenging for many learners with autism, so I love that this game requires players to apply the skill of using positional words in an engaging way.

Strategy – One way that players can win is by having five of the same breed in his/her line. You can help players figure out strategy to get five in a row by considering which dogs to take from the line, or by taking specific dogs to prevent other players from getting five of the same breed in a row. 

Early Multiplication/Skip Counting – To determine the score at the end of the game, players utilize the scorecard pictured below. This is a great opportunity for practicing skip-counting. For example, if the learner is counting up points for all sets of three of the same breed in their line, they can see that each of those dogs are worth three points, then skip count by three. You can also practice multiplication. For example, if the learner sees that he/she has two sets of three of the same breed, then he/she can multiply 2×9. 

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Pros: I love that this game uses objects to practice simple math skills in a fun and engaging way. Two of my students in particular love dogs, so they were immediately motivated by the game. Another aspect of this game that I love is that it’s easy to organize information and questions to meet the individual needs of each learner. This is fantastic for working with siblings of different ages, because you can practice multiplication skills with one sibling and counting skills with the other. Finally, SimplyFun does great work in providing information about playing their games with learners with autism. Take a look at this link  for more information. 

Cons: Set up takes a little longer than most games I use with students. However, it’s worth it! Build in time to set up the game while the learner is engaged with another activity if you think this may be a problem for your students. Another potential con is that there are A LOT of pieces (as in 63 dogs!) If your learner struggles with engaging in activities and scanning a large array of materials, this may not be a good fit.

Ideas for extending the lesson: Again, SimplyFun provides so much information for parents and educators about how to best use their games! Take a look at three suggestions they have for expanding the game. 

Cost: $34.00 You should invest in this game if: you are seeking games to reach a group of children with multiple skill levels, you teach elementary math, or you have a learner who is highly motivated by animals. 

ABLLS: A10, B18, C38, C39, C46, K15, R3, R8

VB-MAPP: VP-MTS 6, VP-MTS 8, Math 13

**Walk the Dogs 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.

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