Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: In The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game, players work hard to gather acorns for their squirrels to stow away for winter. Players take turns spinning the spinner, matching colors, and placing acorns on their log. The first person to gather one acorn of each color wins the game.
Skills & Modifications: I love that this game addresses so many preschool skills in a unique way! I make very few modifications, but each is described below based on the skill you are addressing.
Scanning – The game requires some basic scanning skills. The learner must scan the tree to find the color of acorn they need. For some learners, it is difficult to find the acorns against the multicolored background of the tree, so I sometimes modify the game by placing the acorns in the top of the game-box because it has a solid white background.
Matching – Each time a player gets the chance to pick up an acorn, they have to match the color of the acorn to the appropriate spot on their log. It’s great practice for matching basic colors in a fun way.
Tacting/Labeling – There are lots of opportunities to tact colors, as well as to tact adjective-noun combinations. If your learner loves the game and is just learning adjective-noun combinations, this is a great way to practice the skill.
Motor Skills – This is a fantastic game for working on motor skills. The Squirrel Squeezer requires your learner to hold it with one hand and squeeze it to pick up and place acorns. One reason I love this game so much is that it’s an entertaining activity that many of my learners enjoy, but it also includes a motor skill task that many of my learners struggle with. For many of my students, it provides a lot of motor skill practice without becoming too frustrating.
Strategy – There is a little bit of strategy included in this game. If a player spins and the wheel stops on the Sneaky Squirrel, then that player gets to choose an acorn form another player’s log and place it on their own log. This is basic strategy on a preschool level, such as finding a color that you need or preventing another player from having more acorns than everyone else.
Accepting Losing Your Turn – During the course of the game, your learner may lose a turn, have an acorn stolen from them, or have all their acorns blown away by the “Squirrel Storm.” Many learners with autism struggle with losing a turn or having unpredictable actions occur during a game. For some learners, I modify the game by introducing only one of these actions at a time. Once the student has mastered continuing gameplay with the possibility of losing a turn, I then introduce the possibility of having acorns stolen.
Pros: The game is simple to learn but provides opportunities to practice a wide range of skills. It’s one of my favorites and a big hit with many of my young learners. Also, if your learner is not motivated by the squirrel, Educational Insights has other games with the same type of materials for practicing motor skills, such as Shelby’s Snack Shack (same concept, but works on numbers instead of colors) and Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco (which works on shapes.)
Cons: If your learner is unable to use the Squirrel Squeezer, this may not be the game for them. You can have learners play with their hands instead of the Squirrel Squeezer if you think the materials may still be motivating.
ABLLS: A10, A19, C6, D1, G13, G22, K15, Z9
VB-MAPP: VP-MTS 7, Tact 11, Tact 13