Teach Through Games: Ooga Booga

Teach Through Games: Ooga Booga

Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description: I frequently write about embracing silliness here on the blog. Ooga Boogs is a perfect example of a game that embraces silliness while managing to practice a range of skills. The premise of the game is simple: each card as a one- or two-syllable nonsense word. Players continue to stack cards in the center, and must recite the series of nonsense syllables previously placed. If you make an error, the other players can call you out, you have to draw three cards, and a new chain begins. The goal is to be the first one to run out of your cards.

Skills & Modifications: There are a few modifications I made when working with learners with autism which are details below based on the target skill. The game also includes two modifications for making the game more challenging. 

Memory – The main focus of the game is remembering longer and longer chains of nonsense words. As pictured below, there are visual cues to help prompt the learner to remember each word. One variation suggested to increase difficulty is to hide the visual cues. 

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For learners who struggled with reading, I focused on action cards to introduce the game (pictured below.) Once they mastered the concept of the game, I would slowly introduce some of the simpler, single-syllable nonsense words.

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Decoding – For some learners, I wanted to work on fluency in reading, so I would turn it into a group activity in which we were chanting in unison with all the words visible. This removed the memory aspect of the game, but supported speed with decoding. 

Listening – An essential element of the game is listening to other players as they recite the chain of syllables, and calling them out if they make an error. The instructions state that “If you forget a word, misremember, stutter or hesitate too long, the other players can call you out by banging both fists on the table and chanting in unison, ‘Pabo! Pabo! Pabo!’” Again, this adds a silliness that is highly motivating for many children, and can add impetus for learners to attend to the turns of other players. 

Accepting Mistakes/Errors – It’s inevitable that mistakes will be made by all players. Fortunately, the game is fast-paced, so learners are able to quickly move on to the next round after making an error.  

Peer play – I like this game for peer play because the motivation is high to attend to peers’ turns. 

Pros: I love this game, and so do my students. It’s great for families as well as for classroom activities. And it’s a huge plus that it’s such a wonderful support for decoding skills.

Cons: I love this game and highly recommend it, but I do wish there were a few more action cards to support non-readers and increase opportunities to play the game with learners of varied skill levels.

Cost: $12.99  You should invest in this game if: you have a learner who is highly motivating by remembering details/sequences, you are seeking fun ways to work on decoding skills, or you are looking for fun and quick family games.



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