Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: About Face is a set of 160 images that can be used to create an endless number of faces. The images are clear and creative, and each is set on a white background, (a feature that is helpful for many learners with autism.) All of the cards are double-sided, which was highly motivating for many of my learners, who loved to turn over a card and then talk about the change it made to the face. The concept of the game is simple, allowing kids to enjoy exploring the materials on their own, as well as providing lots of opportunities to work on basic skills in a fun way.
Skills & Modifications: I was truly surprised by how many skills I could practice with my learners using this motivating activity. About Face lends itself nicely to modifications to meet the needs of your particular learner. See below for modifications I made to focus on each skill.
Alike and Different – To work on this skill, I will have the learner create two faces, or I will create one while he/she creates one. Then I ask how the two faces are alike or different. There are such a huge range of objects that this allows for tons of practice with tacting (or naming) objects and using adjectives.
Identifying Emotions – It’s incredible how much emotion shows on each face created using the object images in About Face. Sometimes I will pull out specific object images to focus on identifying certain emotions. It’s helpful for children with autism or other developmental disabilities who are struggling with identifying emotions, because you can select images that portray exaggerated emotion (such as eyes that are very wide) or images that are more subtle in the emotion portrayed.
Scanning – For some learners, I will provide only 2-3 cards, then place several images in a messy array near them. They put together the cards they have, then have to scan the array for the missing part. For example, I might give the learner hair and eyes, then they have to scan the array to find a nose and a mouth. You can vary the number of cards in the array based on your learner’s current skill level in scanning.
Body Parts Identification – This is a great tool for helping to identify body parts such as eyes, nose, mouth, and hair. If your learner is highly motivated by the game, then you can extend it to have the learner find other objects in his/her environment to create ears or a neck. With one learner, I pulled out butcher paper, we traced her body on the paper, then used the cards in About Face to create different heads on the body. She loved this activity, and we were able to practice all the body parts in a unique and motivating way.
Expressive Language – As kids are making faces using the object images included in About Face, they typically want to talk about them. It encourages lots of language, specifically with tacting (or naming) objects, describing colors and shapes, and talking about emotions.
Flexibility – Many learners with autism struggle with being flexible. This presents itself in a variety of ways, depending upon your learner. One of my students is incredibly particular about the words he uses to describe objects. This was a great way to encourage some flexibility for him since those objects took on new meaning when placed on a face. For example, instead of saying “Those are leaves,” he might say, “Look, it’s hair!” I started by encourage him to say basic statements such as, “On this face the leaves look like hair.” This worked well because he was highly motivated by About Face.
Humor – Many of my students get a kick out of creating silly faces with these images. I appreciate that the pieces of the game are simple to manipulate and put together, allowing for kids to really focus on the humorous aspect, as well as on the skills listed above.
Extending the Lesson: One simple way to extend the lesson is by setting several objects on a table and having your learner create faces out of them in the same style as About Face. A second way to extend the lesson is by sharing the Play With Your Food books created by Saxton Freymann (the same artist who created the photographs for About Face) and Joost Elffers.
Pros: I’ve said it before, but one of my favorite things to do with my students is to laugh together. About Face has an element of silliness that is appealing to many of my students, and it provides an impetus to seek out faces in other unexpected places. I would also like to note that I have tried out iPad apps that have similar set up, but none have been as successful as these cards. There’s something about manipulating the cards that was more appealing to my students than any of the apps I’ve tried. I also have a couple of other sets of cards that are a little similar, but again, this was much more entertaining for my students, due not only to the clean design but also to the sheer number of faces they could create.
Cons: None! I love that About Face contains so many images. It allows for plenty of opportunity to maintain interest and keep kids giggling.
Cost: $14.99 You should invest in this game if: you work with young learners, are seeking materials that are humorous, or are looking for unique ways to practice basic language skills with learners with developmental disabilities or language delays.
ABLLS: A10, C21, C54, C55, G5, G13, G28
VB-MAPP: Tact 6, Tact 13
**About Face was provided to me for free by the company eeBoo to write about here at the blog. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.