Age level: Upper Elementary, Middle School
Description: Many of my students with autism have learning goals related to identifying categories, features, and functions of different items. Word Bits is a great way to practice these skills in a fun way. The game includes 80 category cards and 4 letter dice.
Gameplay is simple. A player turn overs the top card in the deck, reads the category aloud, then rolls the number of dice indicated on the card. The first person to name an item from that category that contains the letters on the dice keeps the card.
Skills & Modifications: Before I get into the modifications, I want to share the awesome resources Simply Fun makes available for playing their games with children with autism, and identifying the best games for those learners. (You can see more about their approach here.) For Word Bits, they have identified the areas of strengths and interests your learner should have to be more likely to enjoy Word Bits, as well as any skills required to play the game. This is a great resource if you’re trying to choose appropriate games for your learner(s) with autism!
The simplest modification is to do what I call “stacking the deck.” Just take a look at the cards in the deck, and pull out the ones you know your learner is not quite ready to do. (For instance, I might start with only the cards that require the use of 1 or 2 dice.) This way, the first time you play the game, your learner has lots of success and is more likely to play the game again in the future. Over time, you reintroduce the more challenging cards to the deck until your learner is playing the game as designed.
Another modification I frequently make to this game is to shorten it. The instructions state that you play until the deck is depleted. With my learners, I frequently set a time limit or select a number of collected cards to win (i.e. First person to collect 5 cards wins the game.)
Categories/Class/Feature – I love the range of categories featured on these cards. You’ll find simple categories such as “vegetable” to more complex categories such as “Non-Food Item in the Kitchen.”
Listening – In order to experience success with this game, every player must listen when the category is read aloud. If you have a learner that is strong with word skills, phonics, and categories, but struggles with listening to a direction the first time, this may be an ideal way to practice this skill.
Quick Responding – The primary goal for this game is to respond faster than the other players, which is a challenge for many learners with autism. For one learner, I modified the game the first time we played by removing the dice. We just practiced the categories, and when he named an appropriate item from that category before his brother, he got to keep the card. The second time we played, he understand the basic format of how to answer with speed; I then introduced the dice.
Pros: Beyond the basics, such as ease of play, options for modifications, and attractive materials, I love that Simply Fun doesn’t just support children with autism during Autism Awareness Month. They have materials available for many of their products and place tremendous focus on making their games accessible for everyone. If Word Bits is not for your learner, you should still go to the website and look at the wealth of games they have for all sorts of skill areas.
Cons: No cons for this game!
Cost: $22.50 You should invest in this game if: your learner loves playing with words, you are seeking interactive games for working on categories, or you are looking for fun games that kids of different ages can enjoy.
VB-MAPP: LRFFC 15
Word Bits was provided to me for free by the company Simply Fun to write about here. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.