Oh, Toy Fair, I love you so! There are tons of new releases coming out this year, but here are a few that I am particularly excited about introducing to my students.
Also, please note that none of these games is designed for students with special needs. Each game below is a mainstream game that students with autism may find motivating, which opens up opportunities to practice essential skills and engage in age-appropriate social interactions.
Hucklebee Game by Mindware – Hucklebee is just too cute. The stuffed bee comes with 25 double-sided action cards that get young kids identifying colors, shapes, body parts, and more. Again, this is very easy to modify to meet the needs of your child, and it’s fun for group activities, too. Recommended for ages 1-4.
Juliette 2 Domino by Haba – I use dominoes a lot with my students and can’t wait to get a set of these double-sided dominoes! One side is an alphabet puzzle, while the other side are picture dominoes that help with matching and counting skills. Haha also has the Jef 2 Domino set for your learners who love dogs or are highly motivated by animals.
Lilliputiens Lotocolor by Haba – I love that this activity can be completed independently or with groups of two or more. It helps with puzzle skills, color identification, and shape identification. The design is gorgeous and I can’t wait to try this one out with some of my youngsters! Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Mystery-Dish Diner by Melissa and Doug – There are a lot of games on the market related to “playing diner” but this is by far my favorite. What I love about this game is that it has a wealth of materials, making it easy to modify to meet the skill level of your particular learner an providing a wide range of ways to play. It’s also a great way to practice basic skills related to shape identification, color identification, and category identification. This one is recommended for ages 4-8.
Jump! by Legendary Games, Inc. – This great math game was developed by a teacher. It’s basically rummy, but for skip-counting. It’s simple and easy-to-learn, while also practicing essential skills. I’ve already started using it with my students, so keep an eye out for a full review soon! Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Rally Up! by Blue Orange Games – This game provides a whole new way to practice category skills in a fun, fast-paced group. Players take turns placing cards face up, and if they see two cards from the same category, yell “Rally up!” and get to take the cards. I like that it provides lots and lots of pictures for each category. And it’s easy to modify, just remove the categories your learner isn’t familiar with yet! Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Thumbs Up by Blue Orange Games – This fantastic game works on several skills simultaneously: fine motor skills, sequencing, color recognition, and understanding of number order. Gameplay is very fast, so it’s a good choice for learners who don’t maintain attention to games for long periods. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Taco Takeover by Haywire Games – I spend a lot of time teaching young children with autism to use both hands to more effectively complete a task, so I was super-excited to find this game that requires the use of both hands. Taco Takeover is a speedy, fun game in which players work to build their tacos the fastest. It’s very easy to learn and is a fantastic game for social groups or family game night. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Frankenwords by Haywire Games – This matching game is an ELA teacher’s dream. Frankenwords focuses on compound words and has two levels of play. My favorite aspects of this game are that it motivates kids to speak, to create words, and be a little silly. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
Verbal Volley by Mindfull Games (distributed by Continuum Games) – This fantastic team game allows your students to practice synonyms and antonyms while building cooperation skills. It’s a fun game for the entire family or to play with a class. It will also be released as an app later this year. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Read My List! by Educational Insights – I absolutely love this game because it offers a fun way to continue progress on expressive language and categorization skills. One player reads a list, then all other players try to name something missing from the list or identify the category for the list. There are two levels of play, and 200 lists for each category, providing plenty of opportunity for novel language! Recommended for ages 8 and up.
I hope you get to try out some of these great games, and be sure to keep an eye out for full reviews on each of them in the coming months!