Teach Through Games: Pajaggle

Teach Through Games: Pajaggle

pajaggleAge level: Upper Elementary, Middle School

Description: Pajaggle is a game, brainteaser, and puzzle all rolled into one. The materials (pictured above) are deceptively simple, consisting of a wide range of “daisy” shapes and “starburst” shapes that must be placed in their appropriate spaces. It includes instructions  for eight different games that my students have found highly motivating. While this post is about the Pajaggle Board Game, you should check out Pajaggle’s site, take a look at Pajaggle Rings and Pajaggle Sport, then choose which of the three options are most beneficial for your learners.

Skills & Modifications: Because this game is designed to be played in multiple ways, it offers opportunities to practice a wide range of skills.

Manding – With two students, I split the pieces evenly and we raced to see who could place all his/her pieces first. Because some of the pieces are what Pajaggle calls “doubler” or pieces that fit inside each other, there was a unique opportunity to mand for puzzle pieces in a different way, such as “Can I have the piece that goes inside this one?”

Scanning – The presents an opportunity for higher order scanning skills, and also practices scanning in a developmentally appropriate way. One way to modify it for learners with autism is to fill in many of the pieces, then have them complete the final pieces. For one learner, I introduced this and had her fill in the last eight pieces. Over time, she became more independent and was eventually able to fill in the whole board on her own. 

Expressive Language – Pajaggle offers many opportunities for learners to discuss what’s happening, compare pieces, and explain why a piece might or might not fit.

Independent Play – One of my students enjoys this game so much that we’ve added it to his options on his activity schedule for free time. He has learned how to play the solo version and enjoys timing himself to see how fast he was at putting in all the pieces. I love that Pajaggle provides another option for age-appropriate independent play!

One of my student's plays the Pajaggle game Solo as part of his activity schedule.

One of my student’s plays the Pajaggle game Solo as part of his activity schedule.


Critical Thinking/Strategy 
– Two of the games (Triad and Block-N-Bridge) that you can play with the Pajaggle set require that learners use strategy in order to win the game. This is difficult for many learners with autism as it includes the skills of attending to the other player’s turns, planning ahead, and considering the entire game board when making decisions about one move. With one student, we use the Block-N-Bridge game to practice thinking ahead. As we play, if I see an error in her thinking, we’ll stop, remove the last piece she played, then talk through different choices she could make. It’s a lengthier process, but several times she has stated, “I like this game because it makes you think. It’s a grown up game.” 

Quick Responding/Playing with Speed – There are Pajaggle games that require players to race against one another. With two students who struggle greatly with playing with speed, Pajaggle was motivating enough that they were actually able to focus and play quickly without prompts. This has opened up a new avenue for peer play for these two particular students, as now they can race same-aged peers without modifications being made to the game.

Accepting Mistakes/Errors – Pajaggle has been a great tool for me in teaching learners to accept mistakes and move on. If a learner attempts to place a piece in the incorrect space, he/she can immediately try a new spot. This provides opportunities for introducing positive language around mistakes, such as “That didn’t work” and “I’m going to try it in a new place.”

Fine Motor Skills – The game requires that players be able to pick up the pieces using thumb and index finger and rotate each piece in order to place it appropriately. If your learner struggles greatly with these skills, he/she may not be ready yet for this game. However, if your learner is highly motivated by puzzles and visual performance skills, this may be a good tool for practicing fine motor skills.

Peer Play – If your learner is motivated by these materials, Pajaggle is a great game for peer play because it requires little to no modification for learners with autism to enjoy it. It’s also beneficial that it can be introduced as a solo game, then be introduced into peer play once the learner has mastered use of the materials.

Pros: The best thing about Pajaggle is that it can be used to practice so many different skills in a motivating way. All of the students I’ve introduced it to are motivated by the materials, and I always appreciate activities that learners can engage in independently or with peers. Finally, the materials are very high quality.

Cons: Perhaps the most challenging part of this game for a teacher or parent is keeping track of all the pieces. When possible, I try to put the game inside a tray or large box lid so that everything is contained within a smaller playing area.

Cost: $34.95 You should invest in this game if: you are working with a learner who is highly motivated by puzzles or visual activities, you are seeking independent activities for your learner, or you want more games to play with multiple players of varying ability levels.

ABLLS: A10, H33, K15

VB-MAPP:  VP-MTS 2, Independent Play 6, Mand 14, Independent Play 14

**Note: Pajaggle was featured here on the blog back in January. The first post has been replaced with this updated post because the company has made changes to the product. The new version of the game was provided to me for free from Pajaggle for the purposes of updating my review. This did not influence the opinions expressed in this review.

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