Age level: Preschool
Description: Hucklebee is hands-down one of the best-designed games on the market. It’s been a big hit with my young students with autism and allows me to help them practice all sorts of essential skills. Hucklebee is a soft plush toy that is designed in a way to help young learner practice identifying shapes, colors, body parts, and more.
Hucklebee comes with 25 double-sided cards that you can use as prompts to help your learner engage in a wide range of early skills.
Skills & Modifications: One of the best aspects of Hucklebee is that you can easily modify the activity to meet the learning needs of your child. You can remove cards that your learner is not quite ready for. For example, you might only use the cards that have one-step directions and remove those that have two-step directions. Or, you may remove cards that require your learner to count higher than three if they’re not yet ready to work on that skill. You can also remove the cards entirely or create your own set of cards for an individual learner. The design of Hucklebee allows you to easily focus on the skill sets your unique learner is acquiring.
Listening/One-Step Directions & Two-Step Directions – At its core, Hucklebee is a listening game. The adult (or an older sibling or peer) reads the card and the learner follows the instruction. If your learner is motivated by the Hucklebee plush toy, they may be more likely to engage in the listening activities provided with the game.
Scanning – Almost all of the cards require basic scanning skills. For example, a card might say “Find something that is white on Hucklebee.” The learner must scan all parts of Hucklebee to find a part that is white. What is unique about the Hucklebee game when compared to other scanning activities is that the learner must turn Hucklebee over and around, exploring all parts of him, rather than looking at an image on a flat surface. This is an excellent activity for all learner, but especially for learners with autism who may struggle with scanning skills and/or generalization of scanning skills. (Click on the link below to see a 5-second video related to scanning with Hucklebee.)
Motor Skills – Hucklebee also incorporates motor skills, many of which are likely novel for your learner. The motor skills involve manipulating Hucklebee, imitating actions you’ve just done with Hucklebee, or interacting with Hucklebee in different ways.
Counting – Many of the cards require the learner to count different parts of Hucklebee (such as all the purple parts or Hucklebee’s stripes.) There is a broad range of numbers the child must count to, so you may want to pull out the cards that are appropriate for your learner’s current goals.
Shape Identification – One of the brilliant parts of Hucklebee’s design is that each set of hands is a different shape. There are also other shapes included on his body, (such as a round nose.) This allows for practice with identifying shapes through a range of instructions.
Body Parts Identification – This game does a beautiful job of incorporating generalization into identifying body parts. For example, as pictured below, the game frequently has the learner do something with Hucklebee, then complete the same action on their own.
Color Recognition/Identification – Color is incorporated into a wide range of instructions with Hucklebee. You may want to modify it to just pointing at colors if your learner is not quite ready to complete more complex instructions involving color.
Peer Play – If your young learner with autism is motivated by Hucklebee, then this may be a great option for peer play or sibling play, especially if the peer or sibling is slightly older and able to read the cards to your learner.
Pros: I can’t get over how well-designed this game is. It incorporates many of the methods I use in direct instruction, allows me to practice a wide range of early skills with materials that are motivating for my students, and embeds generalization of those skills into the activity. I loved this game when I saw it at Toy Fair back in February (as I wrote about here,) and my love for it has grown since I’ve introduced it to students.
Cons: No cons! I absolutely love this game for young learners.
Cost: $20.00 You should invest in this game if: you have a preschool learner, you are looking for unique ways for older siblings/peers to engage in play with your young learner with autism, or you are seeking motivating ways to teach basic skills.
ABLLS: A10, C6, C9, C23, C33, C34, G5, G9, G13, K14, R3, R5
VB-MAPP: Listener Responding 4, Listener Responding 5, Listener Responding 8
Hucklebee was provided to me for free by the company MindWare to write about here. This did not influence my opinions on the game. The thoughts and ideas above are all my own.