Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: Imagine a game of hide and seek played as a board game. Now imagine that the board game is simple to play and helps young learners gain and maintain multiple skills. Tibbar’s Big N Little is that game!
The game includes 25 “Big Mommy” tiles with the capital letters A-Z (such as a big alligator with a letter “A” on it,) 25 “Little Baby” tiles with small letters A-Z (such as a baby alligator with a letter “a” on it,) 24 Slider Tiles, 25 Scoring Tokens, and 1 Plastic Punchout Overlay. To set up the game, place either the Mommy tiles or the Baby tiles face up on the playing surface, then cover them with the Plasitic Punchout Overlay. Below, I’ve placed the Mommy tiles on the playing surface.
Next, place the Slider Tiles over the pictures as pictured below. Then give each player three Baby tiles. On a turn, a player has up to 5 slides to find one of the Mommy tiles that match his/her Baby tiles. When they find a match, they collect a Scoring Token, then draw another Baby tile so they always have three animals to search for. When all the tiles are gone, the player with the most “matches” wins.
Every single student I’ve introduced the game to was motivated by the simple mechanics of gameplay!
Skills & Modifications: When I’m first introducing the game, I let the learner(s) explore the simple mechanics of moving the sliding tiles to reveal a new picture. Occasionally, when a student was first introduced to the game, they would try to pick up the tiles, so spending a little time introducing the concept of sliding tiles is worth it. Then I’ll name an animal for them to find, such as “Let’s see if we can find the kangaroo!” The learner then slides tiles until they find the kangaroo. Once they’ve mastered these basic skills associated with the game, they’re ready to play it as designed.
A final modification I frequently make is to change the length of the game. This is fairly simple to do just by limiting the number of tiles each player draws in a game. For example, when I first introduce the game, I give each player three tiles and the first person to find matches for all three tiles wins.
Matching/Letter Recognition Memory – Kids can practice matching non-identical pictures of animals as well as letters. For my learners who love animals, they’re motivated to play a game that helps with letter recognition. And for my learners who love letters, they’re motivated to play a game that helps with matching non-identical pictures. It’s a win-win!
Memory – The game provides great motivation for remembering where they’ve seen animals on the gameboard. I love this aspect of the game for getting learners with autism and other developmental delays to attend to other players’ turns throughout the game.
Comparisons/Big & Small/Adjectives – The game naturally provides practice and opportunities for conversation about comparing size, discussing the big and small animals, and tacting (labeling) the animals using multiple adjectives.
Peer Play/Turn-Taking – As aforementioned, this is a great game for encouraging learners to attend to other players’ turns. Also, each turn is relatively quick, and gameplay is quick as well.
Listening – Occasionally, I’ll name one animal and challenge players to find it. Each player has three slides per turn. It’s a great modification for the materials to practice listening and auditory memory skills.
Pros: The game is fantastic, and it’s easy to modify it to create individualized versions of matching. With my students, I’ve created my own sets of matching cards to practice such skills as matching words to pictures, and matching pictures to categories. I’ve definitely gotten more than one game out of these materials, and my students are highly motivated by the simple function of the game. While it’s a little pricier than most of the games I recommend, it’s well-worth the cost because ALL materials are high-quality and it’s so easy to modify the game to meet the needs of a wide range of learners.
Cons: The set up takes a little longer than most games, so I typically set it up while my students are engaged in an independent activity or eating a snack. Many learners with autism or other developmental disabilities struggle with waiting, and I don’t want them to associate the game with waiting. This is the only con, and a pretty small one at that!
ABLLS: A10, B5, G2, G13, G22, K15, L26, Q1, Q2
VB-MAPP: Tact 5, Tact 10, VP-MTS 9, Tact 13
Tibbar’s Big N Little 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.