Age level: Upper Elementary
Description: The Tower is a simple game that gets kids competing to be the fastest to match a color sequence. This two player game is speedy and fun.
Skills & Modifications: While The Tower is a simple game, it provides opportunities to work on a broad range of skills. I’ve included some modifications that pertain to specific skills below.
Scanning – The Tower requires players to engage in higher order scanning skills because they must not only look at the face-up side of the blocks, but turn them over to find specific colors. For learners who have mastered basic scanning skills, this is a great way to take those skills to a higher level.
Sequencing – At its root, this game is all about sequencing. Once The Tower is turned over and all 8 balls are visible, both players are quickly trying to replicate the sequence in the Tower. Some children with autism may struggle with sequencing skills. You may want to cover part of the tower so they have less visual information to attend to. One way you can do this is by simply placing an index card in front of the tower so that only the bottom ball is visible, then moving it up as the child finds corresponding blocks. You can quickly fade this by making two balls visible after the child has shown success, then three balls, etc. until the child is playing the game as designed.
Color Recognition/Identification – A child doesn’t have to be able to identify colors in order to play this game, but they must be able to match. If the child enjoys the game but struggles with naming the colors, you can model the skill for them. For one student, we just used the tower. I would flip it upside down so one ball would drop, then have the student name the color. He loved the tower and it as a simple way to randomize the response required.
Prepositions – In playing the game, there are a lot of prepositions that are used naturally in talking about what is happening, such as “blue goes ON TOP of red,” or “yellow is UNDER purple.” It’s great practice with basic prepositions.
Motor Skills – The game does require that players can pick up the blocks and stack them neatly. This may be especially challenging as the tower being built gets taller. If your learner is motivated to win the game, this can be a great way to practice careful stacking.
Peer Play – The primary reasons I like this game for peer play is that it is quick and easy to learn. There’s also potential increased motivation for observing what your opponent is doing, which is often challenging for learners with autism.
Accepting Mistakes/Errors – You may get to the end of creating your sequence only to discover that your final block doesn’t have the color you need to complete the task. If your learner is motivated by this activity but struggles with accepting mistakes, this may be an excellent game to practice that skill. Though they are in a race with the other players, there is an opportunity to quickly take apart the tower and try again and the faster you do it, the better the outcome. It has the potential to shorten the duration of frustration and tantrums, especially if you create clearly defined steps for your learner about what to do if they discover they can’t complete the tower.
Pros: Many of my students are motivated by the tower and the blocks. I like that you can practice a range of skills with the game, and most of my students with autism are quickly able to understand the purpose of the game and play it as designed.
Cons: The only con I see is that only two players can play at a time, unless you want to buy more than one set.
ABLLS: A10, B3, B13, G13, G35, K15, Z13
VB-MAPP: VP-MTS 2, VP-MTS 4