Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: Koala Capers is a simple and fun game that was an immediate hit with many of my young learners. The goal of the game is to match patterns to collect outfit cards. Each player gets a koala card, then rolls the dice and takes turn finding matches to dress their koala. The first player to collect 5 outfits wins the game.
Skills & Modifications: There are several possible modifications for this game. The easiest one to implement is simply to remove the “winner” and let kids take turns matching outfits. Finding the outfits is motivating for many of my learners, and making a match feels like a “win.”
The second modification I make is to remove the clothing die and use only the pattern die. This helps my learners practice identifying the patterns and makes the game a little easier because they’re only matching along one characteristic. (For example, they only have to find an outfit with stripes instead of an outfit with striped pants.) This is beneficial for learners who struggle with scanning, matching, and/or identifying two-component descriptions.
The final modification you can make is to decrease the number of outfit cards in the field of play. Many learners with autism struggle to find a specified item when the field of view contains too many items. There are twenty cards available, but you can view what your learner rolled, then place 3-4 cards in their field of play and let them choose the correct match. Then you can systematically increase the number of cards visible until your learner is playing the game as designed.
Scanning/Seek & Find – After rolling the dice (or the pattern die if you’ve modified the game) the learner must find an outfit card that matches what they’ve rolled. This is a higher order skill than the matching we typically introduce to young learners, so your learner should already be able to match many colors, identical pictures, and non-identical pictures (such as two cars that look different) before you introduce this game.
Wh- questions – The outfit cards have lots of detail providing you with many opportunities to ask questions, such as “Where is the koala?” or “What is the koala doing?” Many of my students are highly motivated by the cards, which makes it more likely that they’ll engage with wh- questions.
Adjectives – Many of my students learn adjectives such as colors and size early on. This game provides a motivating opportunity to teach unique adjectives related to patterns, such as “striped”or “checkered.”
Matching – At it’s heart, this is a simple matching game, but it’s much more entertaining than traditional matching games. Many students I work with love dice games, and the pictures are fun to look at.
Memory – The game includes instructions for a memory game that your learners may also enjoy.
Accepting Mistakes/Errors – Sometimes the learner will not be able to make a match because they’ve rolled a pattern that is no longer available. Because gameplay is relatively fast, it’s helpful to use this game to practice responding appropriately to such situations.
Peer Play/Taking Turns – This game is meant for 2-4 players. As aforementioned, gameplay is pretty quick, so there isn’t a long wait time between turns, making it more likely that your learner will maintain attention even when it isn’t their turn.
Cost: $14.99 You should invest in this game if: you are seeking fun matching games for young learners, simple games for peer play and/or sibling play, or unique activities for maintaining matching skills once they’ve been mastered.
VB-MAPP: VP-MTS 5, VP-MTS 10, Tact 13, Tact 15
Koala Capers was provided to me for free by the company Educational Insights to write about here. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.